Magazine Feature / People

Alumna’s volunteer work has taken her around the world

Maydelle (Smith) Meier (MA ’53) knew she didn’t want a “regular” job after she graduated from the University of Denver’s theater program, but she wasn’t sure what that meant. So, she sought counsel from Katherine Kayser, a favorite instructor, who encouraged her to apply with the Red Cross.

Meier took the advice and joined the Red Cross program known as the supplemental recreational activities overseas, which provided morale-building activities for soldiers. She was assigned to Korea, and so began years of unforgettable adventures.

For 18 months, she and seven other “recreation specialists” traveled in a 3/4-ton “clubmobile”—a remodeled bus filled with equipment for dances, baseball games, cards and board games.

“The troops would expect us,” says Meier.

A year and a half later, Meier and her group took a troop ship to Stuttgart, Germany. After spending “a night on the town,” Meier took a midnight flight to Casablanca, where she served as director of a recreation center in Rabat, Morocco, for the next two years.

“We served those who served our country,” Meier says. “We count our blessings that we were included.”

From Morocco, Meier went to France for one year, where she again worked in a recreation center.

With worldly adventures under her belt, Meier returned to the states, where she taught kindergarten and early childhood music until retiring in 1992. Despite having three children, with husband Robert, and a full-time job, her volunteer work never suffered.

Today, in Albuquerque, N.M., she volunteers at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, as a temple worker, and with AARP’s tax-aide program, helping low-income and the elderly prepare their taxes.

But she also has continued to work with the Red Cross. In 1996, Meier became the contact for the American Red Cross Overseas Association (ARCOA) for New Mexico, which was started in 1949 to help those who had served overseas with the Red Cross stay connected. The job was a great fit for Meier, and she’s still at it today.

The 21 New Mexico ARCOA members’ experiences stretch from World War II to Vietnam. Meier stays in touch with them all and says that occasionally the group gets together for lunch.

“We’ve formed close friendships because of our unique experience,” says the grandmother of four. “We talk and show old scrapbooks. We have a warm feeling toward each other, a sisterhood.”


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