Lauderdale an active Red Cross volunteer since 1964
RED CROSS VOLUNTEER n Lee Lauderdale has been a Red Cross volunteer since 1964. As Key Chapter president Jim Potuk said, Lauderdale is always there when you need her, either answering the phone at the local office, or working a disaster in another state. Photo by Steve Swogetinsky/The Meridian Star
By Steve Swogetinsky/The Meridian Star
Aug. 26, 2001
If the American Red Cross had to pay Lee Lauderdale for the hours she has put in as a volunteer since 1964, it would probably hit the agency's budget like a hurricane.
Lauderdale is an active member of the Red Cross' Key Chapter. But she and her husband, Leslie, also work on disaster relief teams for the chapter and on the state, national and international levels. As volunteers, they have been a part of 138 national Red Cross disaster teams. This work can take them away from home weeks at a time.
Being a member of a disaster relief team means a commitment of no less than three weeks. Following a disaster, the Red Cross brings in trained volunteers from across the nation to form a team that helps the victims.
The services vary. Some volunteers will help run Red Cross shelters or provide meals. Others will help victims receive monetary aid from the Red Cross to help them get back on their feet. Anything provided by the Red Cross is considered a gift from the American people who fund the agency with their contributions.
Lauderdale is a Level 5 officer in the Red Cross. Usually when she goes out on a disaster, she works in the office doing records and reports.
Lauderdale pointed out that because a disaster isn't news any more doesn't mean that the hurt it caused has gone away.
Storms and disasters can become expensive in a hurry. Hurricane Georges, for example, was a relatively small storm last year. However, "we spent more than $1 million in disaster relief," said Lauderdale.
Lauderdale got her start in Red Cross work in 1964 when she agreed to fill in for the Red Cross director in Van Buren, Ark., who was out on medical leave.
During that time, she received a call for help for an area that had been hit by a tornado.
This can keep her busy. One year, she worked Hurricane Hugo which hit Florida, and the next week was in California working the San Francisco earthquake. She has been all over the country and even overseas. One time, she and her husband spent more than six weeks in Saipan. They helped the victims of a typhoon.
She still remembers the first assignment she received.
Watching the home front
Lauderdale has played an active role in running the Key Chapter office while it has been without an executive director. She answers the phone and deals with problems and issues as they arise. And when bad weather is headed this way, she's tuned in to the different weather and emergency broadcast channels.
Born and raised in Palm Springs, Calif., Lauderdale's husband, Leslie was in the military and their family lived in different locations around the country.
They had traveled through Mississippi a few times but had spent time here until they were transferred to the Meridian Naval Air Station in 1972. East Mississippi became home and this is where they chose to retired.
They have three children, Leslie, Landry and Linda, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Steve Swogetinsky is regional editor of The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3217, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.