For a number of years, Andy Staiano cared for his ailing wife, who suffered from numerous medical issues. He was her caregiver, and took her to Lompoc Valley Medical Center: Hospital for numerous surgeries.

When she passed away in 2016, he found himself with a lot of time on his hands. “I went from caregiver to unemployed,” he says. “I wanted to keep active.”

Because he’d spent a fair amount of time at LVMC with his wife, he applied to become a Blue Coat hospital volunteer. “This was a good change,” says the retired aerospace employee. “I like helping people, interfacing with people.”

Andy works a two-hour shift on Mondays, helping people in the medical surgical waiting room.

“Every shift is different. You learn to understand the human condition, and you have to adjust. To me, it’s really about getting a sense of satisfaction when someone comes in and I can help them, or when people say ‘Thank you’ and smile.”

He is pleased, he said, when a patient or family member walks in afraid or under tension before a surgery or procedure, but walks out happy because they’ve been taken care of by himself or staff.

“It’s a feeling of accomplishment,” notes Andy, who has lived locally for more than 30 years. “In a lot of ways, I wish I had started earlier.”