This past summer WorkWell was fortunate to have the services of Joseph Mitchell “JM” Dixon, a self-motivated, highly reliable intern. He collected critical data from earlier training sessions, seamlessly integrated into the WorkWell family, and helped motivate the youngest trainee of cohort 7 to stay the course. This fall, he continues to volunteer in the program.

For JM, the experience was both sad and uplifting. “Some WorkWell participants felt their lives would never change because of the lasting stigma of one mistake,” he reflected. “Others found new purpose in life as the program offered them resources to aid in their endeavors. They were reminded of their natural talents and rediscovered their pride. If we truly wish to transform our communities we need a new approach, one that builds people up instead of beating them down. WorkWell represents such mercy in action.”

JM majored in philosophy at Wake Forest and is now in his third year at Princeton Theological Seminary. Halfway through seminary, he realized that his path was not the ministry but instead the life of a public defender. After finishing up his Master of Divinity degree, JM will head off to law school. This makes sense in light of his background.

From a young age JM was called to a life of service. He spent a summer working in a children’s home and has held impressive volunteer positions, including as a teacher with Rotary International in Uganda and as a medical scribe at a free clinic in his home town of Mount Airy, North Carolina. Before setting off for law school JM will serve as a worship leader at the Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville, making use of his skills on the guitar, mandolin and banjo. He developed those skills as well as a love of bluegrass during his youth in Mount Airy, situated at the edge of Appalachia.

When JM left home for college, a lot of folks remarked that he was “escaping” his small town and would never come back. It was an understandable assumption about a natural leader and renaissance type who would end up versed in philosophy, theology, music and the law. But the truth is, JM plans to return home after finishing his education, and we are confident that someday Mount Airy will come to benefit from his prodigious gifts.