Blue Coat volunteer Martin Kaper spent much of his working life in the medical field – employed for 30 years in the home medical equipment industry.
When it came time for retirement, you might think he’d steer clear of healthcare. But the U.S. Air Force veteran instead turned his time to volunteering at Lompoc Valley Medical Center.
Since March of 2015, Martin has contributed hundreds of hours as a Blue Coat volunteer at LVMC. The native of Holland can usually be found in the medical-surgical waiting room, where he has helped create patient flow-charts, room maps and waiting room seating charts and more. When Perioperative Services staff are busy with other duties and he is on duty, he is typically the volunteer tasked with wheeling patients to their cars.
Martin explains that he came to be a volunteer “to give back.” LVMC was a facility where his father and mother, Jack and Janny, were treated for various medical ailments before they passed away. His sister, Ingrid, was also treated at the hospital.
“They took great care of my family,” Martin says. “I just wanted to give back to the great staff they have here. It takes a special person to be a caregiving nurse like they have. There is no other way to thank them.”
Martin has also helped to expand LVMC’s toy program, which provides small stuffed toys, coloring books, toy cars or other items to children undergoing surgery, lab procedures, or even sometimes those just waiting for a family member to have surgery.
“There’s nothing like seeing the smile across their face when you hand them a toy,” he says. “With a $1 stuffed animal or car, they light up, even when they’re going into surgery. Your heart goes out to them when they’re in there. You want to do whatever you can for them.”
Martin says many people are tense and nervous when coming into the hospital, and he does what he can to lighten up the mood.
“I try to make them feel welcome and to let them know they’re in good hands,” Martin says.