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Mary Jo Ayers – Neighbor of the Week

Mary Jo Ayers

Tell us about your volunteer activities.
Over the years I have enjoyed my volunteer work in schools, church and museums. The main focus of my volunteer work is with the Fralin Art Museum at University of Virginia. When I trained as a docent in 1976 we were a small group of volunteers excited about the University of Virginia recently re-opening Bayly Art Museum. Forty years later I continue in my volunteer capacity as a docent as well as Adjunct Curator of Native American Art at the Fralin Art Museum located in the Bayly Building on the grounds of the University of Virginia.

What inspires you to volunteer?
While I contribute my time and energy I receive so much. By participating in the museum Docent Program I have the opportunity to study and learn about important works of art.  More importantly, I have the privilege of sharing what I learn with museum visitors of all ages.

If your volunteer work could make one long-lasting change, what would you want it to be?
I would hope my volunteer work at any place and on any level excites people to be open to the exploration and discussion of new ideas and how they can meld with those we bring to the table. For me this is part of our humanity.

What is a little-known fact about you?
I am a lifelong student and teacher, guided along this path by my undergraduate education at the University of Virginia.

What brought you to Charlottesville/Albemarle County?
In the mid 1950’s my father’s work with the U.S. Dept. Health, Education & Welfare was relocated to Charlottesville as part of the Cold War de-centralization of government offices. This allowed me to live at home and attend UVA as a day student. Eventually I married a charming UVA graduate and we re-settled here as a couple in 1962.

What is special about Charlottesville?
Where else could I walk my dog though a UNESCO World Heritage Site like the grounds of the University of Virginia and have students ask if they can pet her? I have seen many changes as the area grows. I credit the beauty of the land and the people that keep Charlottesville-Albemarle area manageable in size, friendly and intellectually stimulating.