Martir Salmeron is a Marie Reed lifelong friend. When his mother was pregnant with him, she sought out the clinic which is now home to our Marie Reed Medical Center for her OB/GYN care. It was not a Community of Hope site at the time; it was a city-run center with a similar mission to offer affordable health services to the neighborhood. She was living nearby in Columbia Heights and had recently immigrated to the U.S. from El Salvador. After Martir was born, he’d go there for check-ups. Fast forward about 30 years, and Martir is back as a volunteer.
After seven years in the Navy and a few years in government accounting, Martir realized that “being in a cubicle wasn’t doing much” for his life and he was ready to pursue his passion for medicine. He enrolled in a medical assistant associate degree program at Medtech College, where he now takes classes every morning. He sought out a volunteer opportunity at Marie Reed to supplement his education, gain experience in the field and prepare himself for the job market.
As our front desk volunteer, Martir is a friendly face who welcomes patients to the center. Four afternoons per week, he checks patients in, answers the phone and schedules appointments. He also translates for Spanish-speaking clients, registers new patients and fields questions about insurance.
Martir started volunteering with us in May, and reports that he has been learning a lot. He has explored the ins and outs of health insurance and the difference between a PPO and an HMO, and is also learning about how to work with people, a fun change from his cubicle days. “So far it’s been lovely,” he reported. “I feel productive at the end of the day by helping patients.”
Martir feels that he has come full circle by returning to Marie Reed. Once he was a toddler getting his check-ups there; now he welcomes parents and children as they come in for theirs. He knows how vital it was for his family to have convenient, accessible primary care in the neighborhood, and he is proud to be working towards a career offering that same care to families today.