Originally created 03/08/06

Ex-hostage rebuilding life admirably



Kudos to Chronicle reporter Johnny Edwards and photographer Michael Snyder for highlighting Ashley Smith's humble outlook and fun-loving personality with your readers ("Mother tells of year spent healing after being hostage," March 5).

There's been so much unfair speculation in the regional and national media about what happened a year ago during the hostage situation and how her healing has gone since then.

It's refreshing to see a positive account of someone who's in the middle of a long personal journey to overcome tragedy while helping so many others "keep the faith" or start their own journey with God.

Last fall, I was invited to her home church at Greenbrier High School to hear her testimony. She spoke from the heart and stayed around to sign autographed copies of her book. There was no charge to anyone who wanted a book.

I've been back every week since and have seen many examples of her quiet kindness. She routinely signs personal messages on her book that goes to friends of church members who are suffering. I've never heard of her charging money.

She also routinely speaks to area groups, and is doing so March 16 at 4:30 p.m. She will speak to any young lady, ages 12 to 15, who wants to attend the Smart Girls Club meeting at Tubman Middle School on Walton Way.

Until reading your article I didn't realize it was right in the middle of the national press hoopla surrounding the hostage anniversary, her move to a new home and a few days before the start of the trial over her murdered husband.

The mission statement for www.smartgirlsclub.org indicates that the goal is for the girls to "apply lessons learned."

I'm not sure there is a better person to teach life lessons than Ashley Smith.

Neil Gordon, Augusta