March 31, 2023

Volunteer Spotlight: Cici Gazder (Lab Clinic Volunteer of the Year in 2022)

CommunityHealth shines the Volunteer Spotlight on Cici Gazder during March.

Cici began volunteering with CommunityHealth in August of 2021. She served 195 hours as a lab technician, conducting blood draws for testing and comforting patients during lab work. For her compassion, patience, and thoroughness, Cici was promoted to a lab shift leader.

Cici won Lab Clinic Volunteer of the Year in 2022. We sat down with Cici to learn more about how she practices Quality Health Care for All…

In a few sentences, tell us more about yourself and your background.

“I grew up in Aurora, IL. From a young age I was very involved in sports and being a competitive athlete, I experienced and witnessed many sports related injuries. I became fascinated with medicine and its ability to help heal people. I went to college at Illinois Wesleyan and majored in Biology on their pre-med track. But after conducting research for two years, I fell in love with life in the lab and decided to make a career change and pursue a masters degree in medical lab science at Loyola. From there, I’ve had the privilege of being able to work at some of the biggest hospitals in Chicago! But one thing was always missing in my career – patient interaction. That’s when I found community health. Community health was the perfect culmination of lab life and patient communication.”

How has working with Community Health influenced your perception of healthcare?

“Volunteering at Community Health has given me the understanding that healthcare is not just about treating illnesses and injuries, but also about promoting overall well-being and preventing health problems from occurring in the first place. There is such a huge emphasis on health education, and preventative care taught and practiced at community health.”

Why is volunteering important to you? What do you get out of it?

“It’s important to me because it has a positive impact on both me and the community that I’m serving. When I am able to give back to the community, I experience personal growth and development, it improves my mental health and mood, and I build social connections by meeting other volunteers from different walks of life. Being able to volunteer is a privilege, and if I have the time and resources to help my community, I’m going to take that opportunity.”

What advice would you give to a new volunteer at Community Health?

“To any new volunteers joining the lab at Community Health, don’t be nervous about phlebotomy. You’re better than you think you are and if you instill confidence in your patient they will place a lot more faith and trust in you.”

Outside of volunteering with CH, how do you like to spend your free time?

“I really like reading, going for long scenic runs, traveling and spending time with my family and friends.”

What is your favorite book or movie?

“My favorite book is ‘When Death Becomes Life’ by Joshua D. Mezrich.”

What does being a healthcare professional mean to you?

“Being a healthcare professional means being selfless, empathetic, strong and detail oriented. We put others needs before our own because the ability to help others brings us happiness and peace.”

Do you have any special talents/skills you’d like to share?

“I’m really good at playing soccer and I’m not sure that too many people know that. If anyone wants to play in a quick game of soccer over the summer, let me know!”

What has kept you volunteering all this time?

“It doesn’t matter the kind of day that I have had at work, or at home… when I arrive at Community Health my mood immediately shifts. It’s true what people say about how the experience and the patients end up changing the volunteer more than the volunteer changes them. I always walk out of CommunityHealth feeling fulfilled and happier than when I came in. It’s for those reasons that I continue to volunteer at CommunityHealth.”

Health care providers like Cici that assess patients’ wellness beyond the lab are what makes CommunityHealth more than a free clinic. Apply to join our network of volunteers expanding access to free and quality health care!