As the Affordable Care Act Outreach Coordinator for Charm City Clinic, Toney Dixon is helping connect underserved and low-income Baltimore city residents with healthcare options and information.
Hey friends, good day! My name is Toney and I have lived in Baltimore for about 14 years or so—I was born in Alleghany County, MD but also lived in Chicago, IL for 2-3 years as well. Both of my parents are from Baltimore and I have sisters that live here as well.
Concerning my AmeriCorps *VISTA experience, I was more of a realist when it came down to choosing to serve: I was 24-years of age and about to graduate from baccalaureate studies—from Morgan State University—and needed to obtain gainful employment. I was not sure, at the time, of what I wanted to do, but I was absolutely certain of what I did not want to do! Prior to AmeriCorps service, I worked as a tutor in the Baltimore City Public School system, as a law intern at an entertainment law firm, and as an intern at the Democratic Party Headquarters in Annapolis, MD. These experiences provided great skills and mostly positive experiences, but did not fulfill me. Therefore as graduation was approaching, I made sure to target only opportunities that would nurture the seed in my heart for passionate work—work that would bring me closer to the heart of humanity and their deepest struggles.
I actually did not intend to volunteer for *VISTA: in the catalog of the job fair that I attended, it was an AmeriCorps NCCC representative that was to be present. They were not, but my carefully prepared cover letter and 100% cotton, natural royal fiber #28 resume` paper did not go to waste! I met a former *VISTA and a RPCV who introduced me to his former program. I was excited about the work that *VISTAs performed because I wanted to serve my country, I wanted to be part of a coterie of heart-first people, and I also saw *VISTA as an opportunity to leave the potential career path that I was heading towards.
In July 2013 I was placed at Charm City Clinic, a healthcare access clinic located in East Baltimore. My prior knowledge base of government and politics were practical advantages for the clinic. But more central was my ability to connect with the heart of a person, and to provide compassion and health-related solutions to the East Baltimore residents’ respective situations.
During my *VISTA year, I have been challenged beyond the limits that I thought previously existed. I manage the cases of 50+ clients in the clinic, and also serve as team leader for around 5 case managers who also manage clients. Through this, I developed a system to sustain the entire cadre of case managers and provided a medium to meet, discuss and sustain/increase volunteer motivation. I have had wonderful experiences meeting folks from all walks of life, and have had my perspective—my personal horizons—extended. I am so grateful to the program through the work and the struggle, and I am beyond amazed by the transformation that has occurred in me and my community served. The capacity that I helped to build will provide the infrastructure for Charm City Clinic to exist in years to come. I am so thankful for this experience.