COVID volunteers key ingredient to vaccine's success in Valley

Posted at 4:05 PM, Jan 26, 2021

PHOENIX — The HonorHealth drive-up vaccination site near Interstate 17 and Loop 101 has delivered more than 20,000 COVID-19 vaccine shots so far, but none of it would've been possible without the dozens of volunteers stepping up in our country's time of need.

“I think it’s in your soul, you have a calling when you want to care for others and it just doesn’t go away when you retire,” said Shirley Righi.

Righi is a retired nurse who spent decades inside Valley hospitals. She says she’s making sure her golden years are put to good use, living by the Winston Churchill quote, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”

“I will never forget seeing people come through with tears in their eyes as we were giving their vaccine,” said Righi.

When the state called, she answered. Righi is one of the hundreds of volunteers across Arizona, putting their experience to work.

“Being a retiree, I had the opportunity to come back so that the nurses and physicians could stay at the bedside,” said Righi.

After three years on the sidelines, 70-year-old retired nurse Tom Gordy has now vaccinated dozens of his former colleagues, friends and those battling to save lives inside the state ICU’s.

“It’s tough as a registered nurse to see your co-workers out there in the trenches dealing with this day after day, and you’re sitting at home," said Gordy.

Gordy has joined a growing force of people determined to be part of the solution.

In fact, more help is on the way.

State health officials tell ABC15 they’ve put in a request to the federal government for vaccinators and non-clinical support staff for vaccination sites.

Officials say dozens of FEMA workers arrived here Sunday to be deployed to counties around the state.

“The amount of relief that you could see on individuals' faces when they received the vaccine was pretty incredible,” said Gordy.