Volunteer Spotlight: Andy Ooms, Errand Volunteer
Tuesday, October 23, 2018
Written by Christina Parisi, Photo by Bill Van Den Hoek

Within moments of meeting Andy Ooms, his kind nature shines through while his patient touch exudes a strong human spirit.

Though born and raised in South Dakota, Andy’s employment in union labor relations sent him traveling and living throughout America. Once retired, Andy made Arizona his home before heading to Torrance, California, where he’s been for the past seven years. He saw a Beach Cities Health District (BCHD) flyer in the mail one day after moving to the area, and his interest was peaked. As a retiree, he was looking to get involved in volunteering, so he filled out an application and checked off several interests. When BCHD learned he had experience with the blind, they knew his personality and expertise would be helpful as an Errand Volunteer.

From 2002 – 2004, Andy volunteered to teach in Vietnam, where he worked with the blind, setting up training programs to help them build resumes and train for employment. Because of this experience, BCHD thought Andy would do great working with vision-impaired clients. Though he started with one client in 2012, Andy’s skills and expertise became an asset to BCHD and before long, Andy took on an additional two clients. “I do this because I have the resources and don’t mind using them to help others,” explained Andy.

As an Errand Volunteer, Andy assists clients with their errands, either by taking them with him or picking up items from their list for them. Growing up in a family grocery business, Andy felt at home helping people shop and decide on purchases. And it’s his efforts are appreciated, as Frank, one of Andy’s clients, described how thankful he is “for Andy’s consistency, dependability and availability.” The close relationship they have formed with one another is evident. “We have a great relationship and both admire each other’s intellect and life experience,” said Frank, when describing the bond that’s formed between he and Andy.

To others thinking about volunteering, Andy has these words to share: “You’ll be glad you did, and you are thanked. The rewards from being able to earn the gratitude of people with a helping hand are tremendous.” When Andy is not running errands for his three clients, one will likely find him reading or working on old radios, as he is an avid collector.

There are many older adults in the beach cities who would like help with errands. If you are interested in exploring becoming an Errand Volunteer, please fill out an application at www.bchd.org/volunteer or contact Kate Ekman kate.ekman@bchd.org 310-374-3426 x199 for more information. If you know someone who may benefit from having an Errand Volunteer, please contact our Community Services department at 310-374-3426 x 256.