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Columbia Missourian

FROM READERS: Lauren Cameron of the Red Cross retires

May 30, 2012 | 3:16 p.m. CDT
Lauren Cameron, who has been with the American Red Cross Heart of Missouri chapter for 17 years, retired May 24.

Mike Flanagan is the Communications Manager for the American Red Cross Heart of Missouri Chapter.

Variety on the job made every day a new adventure for Lauren Cameron, but her 17 years of being the chapter's jack-of-all-trades came to an end May 24 when she retired.

"Every day was different," Cameron said in a recent interview. "No two days were alike. The job was varied and I still helped everybody in the office.

"If a disaster call came and there was no one from disaster services, I took care of that. I worked military cases. I never taught a CPR class. That's about the only program I haven’t worked in that the Red Cross has."

Cameron, who is married to Dr. Roger Cameron, started with the chapter in 1995 working two days a week.

"I wanted part-time employment because I still had a child at home and a husband with a very demanding work schedule," she said. "I went back to work initially through a temp agency. I worked one day a week at the Secretary of State's office and two days a week for the American Red Cross."

When the job at the Secretary of State's office ended, Susan Green, then the chapter executive, hired Cameron away from the temp agency.

Cameron's Red Cross workload increased to three days and eventually went to four days a week. In the weeks leading up to her retirement, she had been on the clock five days a week.

During the time she worked three days a week, she became the chapter's fiscal program manager. She held that position until the summer of 2011.

"Most of my tenure here has been as the finance person," said Cameron, whose last job title was office manager.

She may have been the chapter's financial officer, but she gathered knowledge on every aspect of the chapter and became the go-to person for virtually everything in the chapter.

Couldn't get a computer to work? Ask Lauren. Where is the key to the file cabinet? Where's Lauren? The lights are flickering. Find Lauren. What can the Red Cross do for this person? We need Lauren.

“That’s why I liked it,” she said. “You never knew what was going to come in the door. You just took care of it. There was not a lot of routine.

"The financial stuff was always there and was always constant and always needed to be done, but you could work it around what the Red Cross does, which is to help people with their immediate emergency needs. If it’s disaster and if it’s communicating messages to military personnel because of a birth or death, we took care of it. Deaths, unfortunately, were the most common messages we sent through.”

She wasdeployed twice on disaster assignments — once in finance and once in client case work.

"I enjoyed both of those, but, by far, client case work was the toughest because you get emotionally involved with the people and it's a long day," she said. "That one was in Kansas City."

Occasionally, she helped military personnel or their families in an unforeseen situation secure a loan through the Military Emergency Relief.

"It was challenging and definitely a worthwhile experience," she said of her tenure. "I have no regrets."

Cameron said she has no immediate plans for her newfound spare time.

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's howSupervising editor is Joy Mayer.