Alice Iwai worked as an operating room nurse for more than 25 years at the former Lompoc Hospital site. Though she retired in 1993, Alice is still at Lompoc Valley Medical Center.

Now she’s a valued Blue Coat volunteer. For four hours each week, Alice staffs the medical-surgical waiting room, helping people check-in for operations and procedures, giving out visitor badges and doing a myriad of other helpful tasks.

“I just felt like I should give back to this hospital I was with,” says the native of Oahu, Hawaii.

When she started volunteering about five years ago, she didn’t know very many of the current staff members. But that quickly changed.

“I enjoy visiting with people,” says Alice, who moved to Lompoc in 1963. “I like being helpful – I try to be.”

During her nursing career, Alice said she always worked in the surgery departments – finding during her nursing school rotations that it’s where she enjoyed working. She liked handing out instruments to surgeons, she said.

Though her mother didn’t want her to be a nurse, her brother was living in Illinois and offered to pay for her schooling. She took him up on it.

“I always wanted to be a nurse,” she says. “I wanted to be helpful. They always need nurses, even now.”