Volunteer leaves with lasting impression


A dedicated employee is always a great find and one who works for free -- priceless. Mary Jo Martin's cheery disposition and willingness to tackle any project has made her invaluable to Adams State College Community Partnerships. Her last day on campus is Monday, August 2.

Originally from Wakarusa, Ind., Martin started her volunteer service with ASC Community Partnerships in August 2008. She works through the Mennonite Volunteer Service and Americorp Programs. She had a choice of five different locations and chose the San Luis Valley because "the job was the most business focused and it was located in a rural area." Martin completed a bachelor's degree in business from Goshen College in Indiana.

Photo by Linda Relyea

Her main duties included coordinating monthly art exhibits for the ASC Community Partnerships Gallery. The job provided opportunities to meet local artists, coordinate all the details of an art gallery, including sending out call-for-artists, invitations to the exhibit, assisting in hanging of the exhibits, collecting registrations, submissions and scheduling artists' receptions. "I've learned art is an important part of life."

Mary Hoffman, executive director of ASC Community Partnerships, "Mary Jo found her niche spearheading the community art exhibits." The gallery is an opportunity for local artists, and art organizations, to gain exposure and sell their work.

After completing her obligation to the volunteer organizations, Martin decided to stay an extra year. "Being away from the familiar helped me grow." Her faith is a "core part" of who she is. She was raised attending a Mennonite Church in Wakarusa, Ind. Mennonite beliefs and doctrines can vary from church to church. "Many living in this area assume all Mennonites share same beliefs, I am often asked, 'why aren't you wearing a dress.' I laugh and answer, 'I dress just like you.'"

Martin and five other volunteers shared a house in La Jara. "It was the best part of being here." Living with her peers, running a house, carpooling, and dividing chores, the group became her second family. "It was not always easy, but it was a lot of fun."

She appreciated meeting the extended community and working on campus. "I learned it is okay to not always know what you are doing, to jump in and hope people accept you."

Hoffman said: "Mary Jo has definitely made a positive impact in the valley and on campus."

Martin is ready to return to her close knit family, a friend and her sister are getting married this fall. "It will be good to spend time on the family farm-- and get a job."

By Linda Relyea