PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- It's a job that puts Melissa Irizarry's health at risk, but that's not stopping this Valley mom from showing up with a smile every day, determined to help as many people as possible.
"We do have some patients that are nervous or struggle with the possibility of being positive," said Irizarry. "But we try to reassure them we're here for you, and you're doing the right thing by getting tested."
Irizarry is an on-site supervisor at one of ASU's Covid-19 saliva testing sites.
She's working in the parking lot at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, which averages a thousand patients a day. One-by one, people drive-up and get tested, but it's Irizarry's car-side manner that sets her apart.
Co-workers said she is always putting patients at ease with her positive attitude, sense of humor, and caring nature.
"I feel this is one of the most important jobs I've ever had in my life," said Irizarry. "Just a great feeling, a great team, just happy to be part of a great team."
Arizona State University student Cameron Decker has worked with Irizarry since July and has seen first hand how hard she works protecting the public. He reached out to CBS 5 to Pay it Forward to Irizarry, whose family has overcome Covid struggles, as well.
"I want to send a message to her that yes, her hard work is recognized," said Decker. "Her loving spirit and her service to others is recognized, and she is wonderful at her job."
A CBS 5 news crew showed up at the testing site to surprise Irizarry and give her a $500 gift card.
"I reached out to CBS 5 Pay it Forward because we here at this testing site just wanted to thank you so much for your hard-working spirit," said Decker. "Everything that you do for the community, everything you do for us, bringing joy here and making sure these community members are taken care of, even in the wake of your own adversity."
"On behalf of CBS 5 and all of us, we want to give you a $500 Visa gift card," said Decker.
"It's a great feeling to just take care of people and make sure they feel secure and safe," said Irizarry.