May 26, 2023

Volunteer Spotlight: Isa Alvarez (Clinic Volunteer of the Year – Spanish Interpreter in 2022)

CommunityHealth shines the volunteer spotlight on Isa Alvarez during May. 

Isa began volunteering with CommunityHealth in 2020, serving over 270 hours as a Spanish interpreter.

As both a role-play facilitator and trainer, she stepped up to train other volunteers in interpreting. Isa also taught yoga to patients living with Diabetes for our free Health Education workshops.

For her compassionate yet fearless leadership, Isa was awarded Clinic Volunteer of the Year for Spanish Interpreting in 2022. 

Watch Isa win her award at the 2022 Volunteer of the Year Awards ceremony!

CommunityHealth talked to Isa about her devotion to Quality Health Care for All

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

“My family is originally from Guatemala and we moved to the U.S. when I was around 7 years old. I have since lived in Chicago, went to high school in the Garfield Park Area and attended college at the University of Chicago, majoring in the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine (HIPS) and minoring in Human Rights. Shortly after graduating in 2019, I started volunteering at Community Health as a Spanish interpreter and have been loving it ever since!”

What is your favorite memory from your time with CommunityHealth?

“My favorite memory is teaching yoga to patients in the Belmont Cragin area on Saturday mornings. It was really fun and I loved seeing how everyone relaxed a little and just allowed their bodies to breathe. It was so nice chatting with the patients afterwards and hearing how meaningful it was for them to take a yoga class in Spanish.”

What has been your biggest takeaway from your time with CommunityHealth, and how does this impact your other life or career goals?

“The importance of community. Community health is such an integral part of my community. It truly makes a difference to have a clinic that understand patients, both culturally and linguistically. As a future provider, I was to ensure the same level of awareness, respect, and representation in the work that I do with patients and their families.”

What does being a healthcare professional mean to you?

“It means being understanding and committed to making your patient’s navigation of the healthcare system as easy and accessible as possible.”

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

“Volunteering is important to me because with every patient interaction I see my family in their shoes. I see my mom, grandmother, aunt, uncle, etc. It is very important for me to give back to my community because I know how hard it is for individuals that are new to this country or don’t know English too well to navigate the complexities associated with our healthcare system. I want these patients to feel truly supported and welcomed into the clinical space.”

What’s your favorite book or movie?

“Definitely La casa de Los Espíritus by Isabel Allende.”

 Culturally competent volunteers that relate to the communities we serve like Isa are what make CommunityHealth more than a free clinic. As the largest volunteer-based clinic in the nation, CommunityHealth could not provide free treatments, assessments, and medications at no cost to patients without the passionate work of our volunteers.

We welcome all health care providers to apply to volunteer.