Defne Yuksel Nominated for Statewide Junior Volunteer of the Year Award
Defne Yuksel has grown up volunteering at Gritman Medical Center.
The Moscow teen signed up to help out around the hospital almost as soon she qualified—as a Moscow Middle School eighth-grader.
“It’s really given me the tools, in a job setting,” she said. “I’ve really learned a lot from coming here.”
Yuksel, 17, graduated this spring from Moscow High School and her dedication to the hospital continues to earn high marks. She was recently nominated locally for the Idaho Hospital Association’s Junior Volunteer of the Year Award. A statewide winner will be honored in the fall.
“Defne’s commitment to helping our community and hospital always put her at the forefront of events and her leadership played a pivotal role in leading many successful events,” Gritman Volunteer Coordinator Kim Malm wrote in a nomination letter. “She has been an outstanding leader of this program, and Defne’s involvement in volunteerism goes far beyond the walls in Gritman.”
Even the smallest time crunch proved to be a good opportunity for work at Gritman. Early on, she’d stop by the hospital during 45-minute gaps between classes to help out wherever she could.
“Gritman has really become a home community for me,” she said.
Yuksel leads the Gritman Junior Volunteers, having held every officer position in the organization since joining as an eight-grader. Her five years of volunteerism amounting to hundreds of hours per quarter has never waivered, not even in the early days of COVID-19.
How Yuksel first got into volunteering remains a bit of a blur, but she’s driven to keep at it to continue to help the patients, physicians and staff here at Gritman. She plans to continue helping after graduating from high school.
“I just want to do something I’m passionate about,” she said.
Industrious in every aspect, Yuksel also works at One World Cafe and volunteers for other organizations including United Way of Moscow and the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council. She has even taken in-person classes at the University of Idaho while earning her high school diploma and volunteering for the hospital. Prior to the pandemic, she’d occasionally perform the cello for patients awaiting care in the Emergency Department.
While honored to be nominated for the Junior Volunteer of the Year Award, Yuksel is pure in her mission for the hospital and wants her actions to be their own reward.
“Knowing that I can positively impact my community, and then also finding my community in these kinds of spaces, that’s what has brought me back over the years.”