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Family dedicates program to a young life serving others

Family dedicates program to a young life serving others

She was a young woman full of promise and purpose with a passion to be of service to others.

In a very special way, her family is helping to fulfill the mission that Ashley Offerdahl started out to do.

"I adopted both of my girls. Ashley and Aubrey - Ashley was the oldest, just a beautiful soul," said mother Abbie Offerdahl.

That beautiful soul, Ashley Offerdahl, was born with a heart for serving others. From her earliest years, she supported charitable causes, went on mission trips abroad, and mentored her peers who were struggling.

"She said, 'Mom and dad, I just want to make a difference and touch people's lives,'" Abbie said.

Ironically, one place Ashley chose to volunteer was at one of Florida's oldest adoption services and family counseling agencies.

"She also mentored a little girl here through Children's Home Society, whose mother was incarcerated and father had passed away," Abbie said.

Then tragically, just as her star was shining brightest and Ashley was preparing for a medical career, she died suddenly from an aneurysm in 2013, at age 25. Her family knew that Ashley would want them to keep her work going.

They did by establishing the Ashley Offerdahl Counseling Program at Children's Home Society. A unique part of the program is the online face-to-face counseling, which breaks down barriers to services for many families.

"This program really helps children and families that have been abused, neglected - have mental issues that are going on," Abbie explained.

"It allows them to hook up from their home computer, their smartphone , their tablet, with a counselor at a time that's most convenient for them. The Offerdahl family wants to honor her and it was a beautiful marriage of that opportunity to work together to not only honor Ashley, but to support some of those desires Ashley would have had if she was still with us," said Children's Home Society Executive Director Lindsey Cannon.

It's a program as unique and special as Ashley and, in some ways, brings her far-too-short life full circle.

"The history that Ashley's biological mother experienced. There was a lot of trauma history, drug abuse. All some of those really significant factors that led to Ashley being available for adoption," Lindsey said.

Angels In Our Midst is sponsored by Nemours Children's Specialty Care.

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