This year’s winner of Portland Adventist Academy’s North Pacific Union Conference Caring Heart Award goes to Ashley Gray! – class of 2020 –
Ashley’s abundant spirit of belonging overflows into the lives of those around her. During her four years at Portland Adventist Academy, hospitable kindness has made a real impact on the school community.
Ashley was just a young girl when she began volunteering for the International Student Summer Immersion program at PAA. Even as a child, Ashley whole-heartedly embraced the chance to welcome new students to PAA.
Years later, when Ashley enrolled at PAA, she jumped at the chance to be an International Student mentor. While being a friend to someone who barely speaks English isn’t something you might find on an average teen’s list of hobbies, Ashley is remarkably energized by it.
Ashley’s perseverance is exceptional. She and her younger sister spend more than three hours commuting to and from school each day. Despite this tiresome task, she spends the spare minutes of her day investing in others. She bakes sweet treats and favorite asian comfort food for international students so far from family. She plans fun events or games during lunch time and stays after school to help friends with homework.
Ashley’s four-years of leadership in the mentorship program has benefited all students, not just those from other countries. When someone needs to talk, she is fully present and listens with her heart. When she notices someone who needs a friend, she seeks them out and welcomes them to a study group or a board game during lunch.
When PAA students weren’t able to return to campus after spring break, Ashley doubled down on her efforts to build community. She hosted movie watching parties, built social media connections, and reached out to students who needed extra encouragement during isolation.
The human need for belonging is one that Christ alone can fill. When Jesus calls us to be His hands and feet, Ashely hears and answers Him. Sharing His life-giving peace with others is a purpose she lives out daily through her Caring Heart.