By CASEY NICCOLI
Adam Gray doesn’t claim to be a therapist or even a professional counselor, but he’s on a mission to help those in need. He’s Amarillo College’s new corporate chaplain. What he brings to AC is a unique opportunity for employees
to have someone caring and compassionate to speak with during difficult times.
Gray is a native Texan who grew up in the Fort Worth area. He went to school in Abilene where he got his bachelor’s and master’s in Christian ministry. He was a fulltime pastor for 25 years, 17 of those years have been in Amarillo. He’s also the drumline instructor for Amarillo High School.
“I’d heard about this idea of corporate chaplaincy, where I’d heard of hospitals having chaplains, or police or military, right? But I’d never heard of a business hiring a chaplain, but I came across the idea and wasn’t even looking for it,” said Gray.
According to Gray, the idea clicked, and he felt a calling to pursue this next step in his lifelong career helping others. He formed a company called InnerWell, which offers life coaching, corporate chaplaincy and proactive soul care, as listed on his website.
Some AC employees say they think it’s a step in the right direction. “I hope it’s utilized. I think it could be an opportunity for a lot of us to overcome some of our self-imposed barriers that we’re experiencing right now. So, I think it’s positive overall,” said Jackie Llewelyn, a speech instructor and dual credit coordinator.
Llewelyn says she feels the pandemic, and the many challenges AC employees now face, has something to do with the onboarding of corporate chaplaincy, but there are many reasons why someone could use Gray’s services.
“I hope to honor whoever I’m in conversation with by just being wherever they’re at,” said Gray, “people have pain and people have loss and grief, and they need to know somebody is there and I’m trusting that when people feel comfortable, that’s when they can reach out.” Gray can be found on any one of AC’s five campuses throughout the week.
Gray said he feels the mission of AC aligns with the chaplaincy work that he is doing. “There are students of all different socio-economic means, a lot of the students that are first generation, maybe come from working poverty or even the culture of poverty. AC cares for their students in a holistic way. Even down to the need to feed them, clothe them. It’s remarkable work that they’re trying to fulfill.” Gray added, “how can the staff and faculty better be poured into as they’re pouring into their students? I want to be investing in those who are doing meaningful work. That’s the
vision of it.”
Some instructors say a focus on the well-being of faculty can impact the students in a positive way. “Well, you know, happy teacher, happy student. The less stressed we are in general, the more we can focus on being our best in the classroom,” said Llewelyn.
Gray said he will maintain strict confidentiality when counseling AC employees. “My sole agenda is just to care. And the way I do that is to listen and talk to others and to meet them right where they’re at,” Gray said.