Visitors to the USO Northwest’s SeaTac Center in Seattle, US, are enjoying an improved experience thanks to Microsoft’s Tech Talent for Good programme.
The SeaTac Center is a non-profit organisation that gives soldiers, sailors and their families a place to relax and pass time between flights.
In a facility where people may feel anxious or want to speak to loved ones, helping to make the visitor experience as comfortable as possible can be hugely beneficial.
Microsoft has provided the communication and gaming tools to make the time visitors spend at the centre as comfortable and meaningful as possible.
The centre includes a ‘game pod’ area with two Xbox consoles and 50-inch screens. Users can also use Skype to speak with family members and make their journey as easy as they can.
Microsoft employees are currently preparing 20 Surface tablets for use at the centre later this month. This includes ensuring all tablets have up-to-date software, apps such as Skype, and anti-virus software.
“Microsoft employee volunteers take tremendous pride in bringing their technical talents to help serve the service men and women who serve our country every day,” said Lori Forte Harnick, Microsoft’s general manager for Citizenship and Public Affairs.
Shawn Du Lac is a military veteran who also worked for Microsoft for two years. Having served in the US Navy from 1990-1996, Du Lac knows the importance of facilities such as the SeaTac Center.
Du Lac was at the Seattle centre recently when a flight of soldiers and sailors that had been away from the US for between one and two years.
“Just the look of relief on their faces – I asked them, ‘Hey, what’s your final destination? Are you going to be home today or tomorrow?’ I told them, ‘All the food is complimentary, watch some TV or play some games or catch a nap – let us know if there’s anything we can do to help out,” Du Lac explained.
Bill Baker, manager of the SeaTac Center, explains how families are also benefiting from the centre’s facilities.
“We have a lot of Marine spouses coming through who are going over to Okinawa the next morning,” said Baker. “And they’ll come with maybe two or three children, because they’re going over to catch up with their loved one. So you’ll have mom or dad traveling all the way from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, get all the way up here to Seattle and they’re exhausted. They see a chance for the kids to play on the Kinect in the family room and burn some of that energy – oh my gosh, you’d just think we just gave them the keys to the bank. They’re over the moon. They’re able to sit down and relax, they can take a shower. They can just disconnect for a few minutes while the kids are in there playing.”
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