Established by retired glass industry executive Donald Friese, the Friese Foundation supports a variety of organizations dedicated to the needs of children, youth, and other important groups in need. The foundation also donates to range of nonprofits dedicated to military veterans, first responders, and animal welfare, as well as community partners such as hospitals and schools.
Combatting COVID with the USO
When the COVID-19 pandemic was in its early and most frightening stages in the United States, the Friese Foundation made notable contributions to organizations working to provide essential services to people in need. Among these was a donation to the USO (United Service Organizations) and its Combat COVID-19 campaign, which has provided support and comfort to members of the United States armed forces and their loved ones during the pandemic.
Just as in previous times of crisis, the USO has been a major presence in the lives of the nation’s military personnel during the pandemic, whether they are stationed at home or around the world. The USO remains a leading service group dedicated to this purpose, and has continued its close ties with the leadership of the military command structure over the course of the pandemic.
Serving those who serve us
The USO has been putting its own boots on the ground since the beginning of the Second World War. It was created in 1941 to strengthen the connections between the American military personnel who were risking their lives in service and their families and communities back home.
Today, the USO continues its focus on constant wraparound services. The organization makes sure that, from the moment each military service member puts on his or her uniform, they will be provided with the essentials they need to care for themselves, stay resilient, and keep their spirits up. Its longevity and the scope and strength of its logistical expertise have given the USO the resources to meet service members’ needs from first assignment, through deployment, to the process of coming home. The USO can truly go the extra mile and reach service members in locations where other nonprofit groups cannot, including in combat zones.
A history of partnership-building that spans the globe
On the eve of the U.S.’s entrance into WWII, President Franklin Roosevelt was already working on a project to bring several morale-boosting service organizations together to help military service members abroad while also fostering patriotism at home. The USO was born out of this collaboration that initially included the National Travelers Aid Association, YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association), National Jewish Welfare Board, Salvation Army, and others.
Today, the USO operates more than 250 service centers on every continent in the world. Its worldwide team works to provide the highest level of responsiveness to military personnel’s needs. The organization also maintains the USO Congressional Caucus. Begun in 2003, the caucus reinforces ties between service members’ families and their elected representatives in Washington, DC. The caucus also helps keep the sacrifices and needs of service members front and center at the federal government level.
Hope and laughter in times of peril
Bob Hope, the legendary entertainer, comedian, and movie star, was the most memorable face and voice of the USO for decades. Best known as Bing Crosby’s co-star in the many popular “Road to…” movie comedies, Hope also helmed a massive effort that brought Hollywood stars, singers, and comedians together to perform all over the world. Their shows were designed solely to bring warmth, laughter, and a sense of home to troops fighting far away. These shows continue today with some of the most popular actors and entertainers.
Hope and his performers frequently performed right up on the front lines. His personal bravery in doing this work remains legendary among the USO team. Hope was never known to be deterred by rough seas or even enemy fire—he was steadfast in his mission to bring some respite and happiness into soldiers’ lives.
“Laughter up at the front lines is a very precious thing,” he once said, noting how dangerous and uncertain the troops’ lives were, and how much they were prepared to sacrifice for the sake of their country and its values. “Imagine those guys thanking me,” he went on. “Look what they’re doin’ for me. And for you.”
The USO, true to its commitment to always be by service members’ sides, continues to honor and support a new generation of military men and women today.