Get to know: Andrea Chavez

Andrea Chavez poses with boxed produce in a corn field

Andrea Chavez serves as a board member and is on the board’s fundraising committees at the Arroyo Grande Community Hospital Foundation. She has been on the board for three years. She is the creator and manager of the Talley Farms Box Program at Talley Farms in Arroyo Grande. The Talley Family has been farming in Arroyo Grande for over 70 years and is a long-time supporter of the Arroyo Grande foundation. With over 40 years of experience in the produce industry, Talley Family hired Andrea in 2012 to start a direct-to-consumer farm box program. Through the last nine years, the program has grown significantly and during 2020-21 they have been able to donate boxes to “hospital employee heroes” at both Arroyo Grande and Santa Maria CommonSpirit hospitals. She says she is also proud to serve on the board of the San Luis Obispo Food Bank, and is a graduate and previous board member of LeadershipSLO, a SLO Chamber leadership program.

She and her husband, Randy, are celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary this October. Randy was one of her customers when she was a sales manager for Dole Fresh Vegetables in the 1980s. They have two sons, ages 30 and 31. She is a 30 year breast cancer survivor, who found stage 3 breast cancer with her baseline mammogram at age 35. Her boys were both in diapers when she underwent 10 months of chemotherapy and five weeks of radiation. She is passionate about the October pink bow campaign and encourages all women to get their baseline mammograms on schedule.

What was your first connection to the hospital and the foundation?
My first experience with Arroyo Grande Community Hospital was in 2016 when my husband visited the ER with a bleeding ulcer. He stayed 2 nights and was well taken care of. I was so impressed with the nurses, doctors and staff and we wanted to contribute to the foundation. I had been communicating with the foundation staff through the years as the Talley Farms representative plus we deliver our farm boxes to the foundation office for employees that order them.

How did you come to serve on the foundation’s board?
Montisa Lopez and Kathy Tompkins met me for coffee one morning and ask me to join.

What have you learned as a result of your board service and connection to the hospital?
I have learned so much about the hospital, its facilities and services. I am able to help our employees and others to find the medical services they need for various ailments. We currently have an employee who is starting cancer treatment and I have been explaining to him about our new cancer services. I’m relieved that he can get treatment so close to home. I have also made some good friends on the board and we have fun working together to raise money.

What role does gratitude play in your philanthropy and service?
I am grateful that my doctor encouraged me to get my baseline mammogram at age 35, otherwise I would not have found my cancer until too late. I’m grateful to all the hospital staff for their dedication and hard work, especially during the last 1 ½ years. Arroyo Grande Community Hospital is MY hospital, MY neighborhood angel and I’m grateful that it exists both for my family and friends and for all who live in our San Luis Obispo South County. We want our hospital to be vibrant, modern and healthy.

What excites you most about the next five years for the foundation and hospital?
What excites me most is participating in helping our hospital purchase the tools they need to excel in caring for and treating our local community.