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Published Thursday September 24th, 2009 at 7:16pm

Original Article by Jill Thomas

Ray Martinez, Mayor of Fort Collins, CO
Apr 99 - Apr 05

Last year, when the StoryCorps MobileBooth stopped in Fort Collins Colorado,Ray Martinez sat in front of one of its microphones with some longtimefriends and talked about the phases of his early life: the five yearshe spent at a Denver-area orphanage, and his subsequent adoption. Therecording aired last summer not only on the local public radio station,but also on National Public Radio and the StoryCorps Web site.

What followed "stunned" Martinez.

"I got e-mails and calls from people from New Jersey to Hawaii," hesays. "Literally across the United States."

He shares a few lines from one of the e-mails, written by a man inCalifornia who says he and his wife heard his story and became inspiredto become foster or adoptive parents: "I've listened to the interviewover and over on the Internet and I'm choked up each time I hear it ...I'm not sure where this will take us, but I can't shake the image ofyour mother and father taking you home."

"Isn't that powerful?" asks Martinez, who grew into an adult lifethat includes serving 24 years as a police officer and three terms asFort Collins' mayor.

Martinez has shared his experience in hopes that others will becomepart of the StoryCorps project. The national nonprofit initiative,which has recorded interviews with more than 26,000 ordinary people inall 50 states, is sending its mobile recording studio to the Pikes Peakregion for four weeks starting Thursday, Sept. 24.

The MobileBooth will park in front of Penrose Library, where localscan come to be interviewed by friends or family, about any aspect oftheir lives, with the help of trained facilitators. Recordings of eachinterview will be given to participants and archived at the AmericanFolklife Center at the Library of Congress. Some of the stories willair on local partner station KRCC-FM and possibly on NPR.

"You know, we already capture the history of famous people, notablepeople," Martinez says, "but when can you capture the history ofeveryday people like this?"

Martinez's story, with its poignant detail of would-be parentschecking him out "like a library book," was something of a provenwinner; he has told it in meeting rooms and classrooms, and has evenwritten a book about his childhood and his search for his birth mother.("It's called Baby Boy-R, because that's how they made notesabout me in the orphanage," he says.) But the StoryCorps archives arefull of tales that people had never told outside their families -- or, sometimes, even within their families.

"Every time I tell this story, people come up to me and have similarlife stories," Martinez says. "They walk up, maybe in tears, telling meabout their lives. I always say to them, 'Make sure you share yourstory; tell people about it.'"

Martinez encourages everyone to think about the tales they may haveto tell about themselves and the local community, and to take theplunge by signing up for a StoryCorps interview.

"Everybody's got a different story, and I think hearing them helpsus grow a greater fondness and respect for each other," he explains."Now, when I look at the faces of people, I just kind of sit back andthink, 'I wonder what their story is?'"