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July 22, 2020

Andrew Blazo helps feed front-line doctors and nurses, and he nourishes patients who are healing. He's an apprentice in the Lawrence Memorial Hospital kitchen and he wears several hats.

“One day I could be the cook on the patient side, and another day I could be working in the café,” Blazo said. “Because of this whole situation (pandemic), my hours went down a little bit, but I am still very thankful to be working. We lost a lot of our business when no visitors were allowed in the hospital.”

Blazo just finished his first year in the JCCC culinary arts program after taking two years of culinary classes at Eudora High School.

“I was on the competition team both years,” he said. “During my last year I had really proven myself to my teacher, Chef Jack Low, and he gave me a lot more responsibility, such as organizing and being the leader of many events. I also got some really good experience with barbecue since we had a smoker. I would come in at 6 a.m. to start when we needed it. I have been working in many different parts of restaurants since I was 15, so I've learned a lot of different things."

Blazo said he loves working at the hospital because of the people he gets to know.

“All of the other cooks and managers are super nice, and they make the job worth it,” he said. “We try to have late-night meals once or twice a month for the staff that works overnight. They are thankful because they do not get the option every day.”

The hardest part of living through the pandemic, Blazo said, is how much he can’t do anymore. He is a fan of going to eat at different restaurants and having conversations with new people.

“With everything closing and people sheltering in place, I’ve had to find other things to fill my time,” he said. “I have been more active outside, and I started to try my hand at gardening. Before, I would hike and go on trails with my girlfriend and dog Gracie, but now we go even more! At work, it has really allowed me to have closer relationships with the nurses and other staff who come down to eat.”