For those who know Lora Trujillo, it was a “no-brainer” that the full-time volunteer who dedicates her time to the Poore Medical Clinic and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul deserved the honor of 2017 Arizona Daily Sun Citizen of the Year.
For Trujillo, accepting the honor meant being rewarded for something she feels gives her so many rewards already, and being singled out when she feels that many people at the organizations deserve the same honor.
Trujillo divides her time between the clinic, where she is the front office coordinator and does the intake process and eligibility screening for new patients, and the traveler’s aid department of St. Vincent de Paul, where she and other volunteers help stranded travelers with money for gas, car repairs and other travel related expenses to help them get home. Trujillo previously served as the President and Vice President of Flagstaff’s St. Vincent de Paul conference.
“I grew up with parents who were very much volunteer-minded,” Trujillo said. “My family values volunteer work and the commitment that it takes, even as much as a paying job.”
Trujillo is trained as a nurse but has not been a practicing nurse since she moved to Flagstaff, about 18 years ago. However, she said her training and background as a nurse helps her at the clinic when doing intake and processing for patients.
“It’s nice to be in a position to help somebody in a difficult spot,” she said.
Renee DeVere, one of several people who nominated Trujillo for the award, said she nominated her because “I see someone being so selfless of their time, and it’s a thread in everything she does.”
DeVere said Trujillo always considers how much she can help others, even in simple instances, like buying gifts that also benefit a cause, so more people gain from her purchase than just the recipient of the gift.
“She tries to drive home how much you receive when you volunteer,” DeVere said of Trujillo, who encourages her children to volunteer their time.
But Trujillo is quick to deflect the spotlight onto other people in the organizations where she works, who she said are equally deserving of the honor.
“I get to do what I get to do because of other people,” she said.
DeVere said Trujillo is “very much under the radar” about her volunteer work, and gets her joy from giving back to the community.
“Her heart wells up when she helps others,” DeVere said.
Trujillo has been involved with St. Vincent de Paul for about 18 years, and got involved with the clinic when Bill and Barbara Packard, who were also involved with St. Vincent de Paul, helped start the Poore Clinic with Henry and Nina Poore.
“It just grew,” Trujillo said of her volunteer work.
Flagstaff has diverse opportunities for volunteering, with several organizations available for those who are interested in trying volunteer work, she said.
“It starts small,” she said. “You hear about something that you might want to try.”
Volunteering at the various organizations lets her meet interesting people and be around people who like to help the community.
“It’s inspiring,” Trujillo said.
People who find themselves in unfortunate situations are really no different than anyone else, she said.
“People aren’t very different,” she said. “When you have support, family support is a huge buffer from situations people find themselves in who don’t have that support. When you sit down with someone, listening is very important. You can learn a lot from it. We all have a lot to teach each other.”