Hurricane Hugo may have struck the East Coast and the Caribbean, but its impact has been felt in Lawrence.
Mary Thomas, a volunteer with the Lawrence chapter of the American Red Cross, was on call to help out where Hurricane Hugo hit hardest.
Called to Puerto Rico on Sept. 26 for a stay of at least three weeks, Mrs. Thomas is helping families get vouchers that will provide food, clothing and shelter. The aid these families receive is a gift based on need.
Mrs. Thomas has been a volunteer with the Red Cross for 11 years. She divides her time between the agency's 20-member board of directors, the blood center, aid to military personnel, Telecare and disaster relief.
MRS. THOMAS, who has a master's degree in social work from Kansas University, has worked in such areas as foster care, adoption and child abuse. After her retirement, she volunteered to work for the Red Cross.
``I try to help people where they are from the bottom up and the Red Cross is a great organization to work for,'' Mrs. Thomas said.
Most of her time is donated to the blood center in Lawrence. She helped establish the satellite blood center five years ago.
She spends at least one day a week at the blood center, working in the donor room and running errands. The center employs a charge nurse and an emergency medical technician and has about 20 volunteers.
The center collects approximately 20 pints a day. ``All the blood donated in Lawrence stays in Lawrence,'' Mrs. Thomas said.
THE LAWRENCE chapter of the American Red Cross was established in 1916.
Disaster relief and blood donor services are two of its well-known services. With three paid staff members and 750 volunteers, the Red Cross also provides classes in first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and swimming, and it offers aid to military personnel and services such as Telecare and AIDS education.
Jo Byers, manager of the Red Cross in Douglas County, said that Red Cross disaster services offer the most immediate satisfaction. When the Lone Star community received 12 inches of rain in one night in 1988, the Red Cross provided food, shelter, clothing and medical services for about 15 families. Assistance with home repairs also was provided.
A less well-known service offered by the Red Cross is aid to military personnel. The agency provides a link for civilians to servicemen around the world. Handling 300 to 400 cases a year, the Red Cross helps families notify servicemen of emergencies at home.
IN RECENT years, the Red Cross has added programs such as Telecare, a telephone reassurance program for people who were discharged from the hospital and were alone at home. Telecare comprises 25 to 30 volunteers.
The Red Cross also has set up an AIDS task force, offering educational material on AIDS to students at the junior high level and at Haskell Indian Junior College.
The 1989-90 United Way allocation for the Red Cross is $68,316. Ms. Byers said the funds will be used for new equipment and supplies, especially new mannequins for the CPR classes, and audiovisuals.
The Red Cross also works closely with the Salvation Army, the Christmas Bureau, Warm Hearts and the Special Olympics.
Red Cross services are not always easily recognized.
``Many people don't realize offhand that the Red Cross has served them," Ms. Byers said. "It could have been a swimming lesson when they were children.''