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Archive for Monday, July 27, 1998

RETIREE ENJOYS HELPING VISITORS FIND WAY AROUND LAWRENCE

July 27, 1998

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Jo Byers continues to help others as a volunteer with the Lawrence Visitor Information Center.

Jo Byers has spent most of her 72 years helping make life better for other people. She served as director of the Douglas County Chapter of the American Red Cross for 32 years before retiring two years ago. She also volunteered with the Red Cross while living in Wichita.

Byers continues to help others as a volunteer with the Lawrence Visitor Information Center. Byers has volunteered two days a week at the center for more than a year. With a sweet smile and warm heart, she greets tourists, answers questions, and helps show them various brochures, pamphlets, and maps about Lawrence and other area cities.

``It's pretty much a people-to-people job,'' she said. ``There's lots of people around. We have them from all over the world. The University of Kansas attracts a lot of foreign students and visitors. We have a lot of interesting people that come through here, and I like to be around people.''

Friendly volunteers and staff

Byers elaborates on her motivation to volunteer.

``I really needed to do something that got me out in the community,'' she said, ``because I had a job that was very busy. I really began to feel lost as far as my sense of community was concerned.''

Byers said it is a joy to be around friendly volunteers and staff. She said managers Debbie White and Sonia Reetz are especially helpful. They plan a potluck dinner and tour each month for the volunteers, which educates them about different aspects of Lawrence. The group has visited such historic places as Reuter Pipe Organ Company and Oak Hill Cemetery, as well as toured all of Lawrence's museums and hotels.

``They (the staff) do a really good job of orienting the volunteers and keeping the volunteers very happy,'' Byers said. ``The staff is very thoughtful. The staff at the visitor center could do volunteer training for any organization. They are very concerned, and they see that you are informed. I really feel that they do an outstanding job of recruiting and handling volunteers.''

Byers said she feels good about her volunteer work when she sees ``excited'' travelers leave the center with their questions answered.

``Most people are really very grateful when they leave,'' Byers said. ``Some people find that maybe we can find more for them than they expected when they came in.''

Byers has received many thank-yous this Saturday afternoon at the visitor center, which is the first weekend of the Sunflower State Games. More than 90 people have come through the center's doors today, consisting of Kansas area tourists, as well as others traveling to Lawrence from such places as Rhode Island, Virginia, Costa Rica and Israel.

ing for places,'' Byers said. ``I always learn something new each time I come in here.''

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