2020 Caring Heart Awards

Thirteen Northwest academy students received the $500 Caring Heart Award scholarship made possible through three-way funding from the North Pacific Union Conference, local conferences and academies. Students were selected by their schools for exemplifying the spirit of the Caring Heart — a willingness to serve others. The North American Division provided each student with a plaque and an engraved Bible. The scholarships may be used toward tuition at an Adventist school or on a short-term mission trip.

Bethel Ieremia

Auburn Adventist Academy, Auburn, Washington

Bethel Ieremia is a junior at Auburn Adventist Academy and has participated in the following areas: Honor Society, campus ministries prayer and Bible coordinator, orchestra, Student Faculty Council and Anonymous Acts of Random Kindness.

Anyone who comes in contact with Bethel immediately feels God's love and compassion when they are in her presence. Zuzana Rachal, AAA’s food service director who supervises Bethel, says, “I never met a young person who cares so deeply for others. Her genuine willingness to help is inspiring.” Her walk with Christ is so very obvious and contagious that someone said, “You make angels want to be better beings.”

In the business office where Bethel works her second job, Sherry Hyde says, “Bethel goes above and beyond her duties. She is dependable, observes the nonobvious and performs an excellent job while completing the task. Above all, she goes about her work with a smile on her face and always with a good attitude.”

Bethel is completing the aviation program at AAA and has chosen this field as her career, with hopes of being involved in medical mission work.

Delightful, friendly, caring, compassionate, responsible and always thinking of the other person — these are the qualities Bethel brings to AAA as our  Caring Heart Award representative.


Damaris Vargas

Columbia Adventist Academy, Battle Ground, Washington

The Caring Heart Award winner representing Columbia Adventist Academy is Damaris Vargas, an amazing young person who began her high school career at CAA as a quiet young lady. Quiet has dropped away for the most part. Caring, talkative, helpful, laughing, innovative, smiling and maybe even mischievous are words that would be used to describe her today. Her love for organization and planning activities and events was evident from the beginning, and her gifts and leadership skills have continued to be used and developed for greater use at CAA.

Always with a smile, and sometimes with a correlated twinkle in her eye that makes you wonder what she’s planning next, is the way you will be met in the halls and classrooms by Damaris. Her leadership has been evident in her senior class and the National Honor Society, where she has taken a leading role with blood drives, food drives and collecting large stuffed animals for the young clients at the Vancouver Children’s Center.

While opinionated, Damaris' love for God and people is often quite influential in convincing others her way may indeed be the best way to accomplish things. Her crowning event to date has been the culmination of her senior project, which was a cultural fundraiser dinner. In organizing every detail including decorations, public relations, entertainment, dinner menu and meticulous cleanup, she brought more awareness to the needs of the children and families of the International Children’s Care El Oasis orphanage in Mexico. Although travel to deliver the funds raised during the planned mission trip was impossible this year, her amazing work will leave a powerful positive effect on the people there.

CAA is proud of our Caring Heart recipient and friend. We wish her God’s blessings as she leaves our halls, increases her sphere of influence and blesses the lives of many other people.


Calvin McCauley 

Cascade Christian Academy, Wenatchee, Washington

Calvin McCauley just finished his junior year and has attended Cascade Christian Academy for a total of five years. Although he left for a brief time, he was welcomed with open arms on his return to CCA his freshman year.

Calvin has proved to be a one-of-kind Christian teenager. His kindness, support and concern for others has made him a favorite among the teachers and his classmates. His positive Christian character and attitude are such a blessing.

When CCA went on its Belize mission trip in 2018, Calvin was a participant and demonstrated his excellent work ethic and his ability to be a team player. Although Calvin chose not to attend the 2020 mission trip, he has selflessly helped with fundraising efforts for the trip.

Calvin works hard in everything he does. Two of Calvin’s most favorite things are playing the guitar and running the 2-mile for the CCA track team.

Calvin is not sure what path he will take for his future career, but we are all confident Calvin will be successful in whatever he does and will continue to serve the Lord with great fervor.  


Gabriella Liebelt

Gem State Adventist Academy, Nampa, Idaho

Gabriella “Gaby” Liebelt, a junior at Gem State Adventist Academy, is well-known for her friendly smile and can-do attitude. “She is one of the most positive people I have ever met. She never lets anything stand in her way, and I find her very brave and inspiring,” says Kim Mitchell, English teacher.

GSAA is blessed to have Gaby as part of the school family. Her friendly and positive spirit is inspiring and appreciated by all. She is a good friend and a hard worker.

Gaby’s attitude of “why not!” and her kind spirit have often focused on service. For four summers she has volunteered at Camp Attitude, a camp for children with special needs and their families. As a “Buddy,” she has put aside her own physical challenges and basic comforts to give children opportunities they might not otherwise have.

This same adventurous spirit took Gaby to Thailand on last year’s mission trip. Mark Waterhouse, math teacher, says, “When we traveled to Thailand, she was so happy to be there, even though 99.9% of Thailand is not ADA-compliant. The orphans were always fighting over who got to push Gaby around. When I think of Gaby, happiness and joy (no matter the circumstances) are the things that come to mind.”

Gaby plans to attend college, hoping to study early childhood education. God has already shown He will use her to touch lives. There is no doubt He will continue to use her to leave a deep and lasting impact on the world in her own unique way.


Aspen Forshee

Livingstone Adventist Academy, Salem, Oregon

Aspen brightens the lives of those around her. In the classroom, on the court or at a school social event, she is always reaching out to people. She is a friend to more than just her own class and reaches out to students younger and older than herself. She can often be seen in the halls talking with other students, inquiring about their lives.

Livingstone Adventist Academy has been blessed to have Aspen since eighth grade. She has enthusiastically participated in handbells, sports, yearbook and student government. In every organization she is a part of, she encourages others. She organizes social events and maximizes opportunities for students to connect, and she leads by example.

At her home church, she has served on the nominating committee and has been involved in helping the primary/junior Sabbath School teacher on a rotating basis with other youth. She is also supportive of church youth activities and church even while doing so much at school.

Aspen has a heart for people, and it brings joy to others. She has shown a depth of understanding and caring that shows a wisdom beyond her years.


Brandon Kokinos

Milo Adventist Academy, Days Creek, Oregon

Brandon Kokinos, a senior at Milo Adventist Academy, is the son of Thomas and Sheena Kokinos of Newberg, Oregon, and Jennifer Kokinos of Dayton, Oregon. He has attended Milo the last three years of his high school experience and plans to attend Walla Walla University next school year to pursue a degree in theology or psychology.

Brandon was selected by the Milo staff to receive the Caring Heart Award because his life exemplifies the heart of Jesus as has been best modeled through his gift of intuitive compassion and empathy for others, his willing passion to serve, and his selfless acts of kindness. Whether he is spontaneously praying with a staff member in their work area or cooking a vegan meal for them in their home, Brandon’s insight into the school’s mental wellness was instrumental in his pursuit to get Delena Meyer as a workshop speaker for Milo this spring.

Prior to coming to Milo, Brandon served as a freshman representative on the student council at C.S. Lewis Academy in Newberg and was involved in Pathfinders, Vacation Bible School and a videography club. While at Milo, he participated in mission trips to Fiji and Puerto Rico; was active in Apostles’ Outreach; and served as junior class president, sophomore class executive vice president and senator, Student Association secretary, and a mentor in the boys’ dorm. Brandon led various Bible studies and small groups; gave sermons at Milo, Newberg and Rivers Edge churches; and helped organize community suppers in Newberg and McMinnville, outreach opportunities to the homeless, and the Awake Worship Conference at Rivers Edge Church.

As a student chaplain this year, Brandon’s leadership amplified his recurring theme and passion in life to help people live a vital life. He wants to live by God’s command, inspire people and not be a complacent Christian. He also challenges and encourages friends and family to follow Jesus.


Kaleb Jones

Mount Ellis Academy, Bozeman, Montana

It was random. I forget the reason why I was in the dorm lobby at 8:30 at night but I was. And who do I see sitting right in the middle of it but Kaleb Jones. Kaleb does not live in the dorm. Moreover, Kaleb is the kind of kid who likes to get his assignments done early, and I knew that he had a lot of assignments due. But there he sat next to a freshman helping him with his math homework at 8:30 at night even though he still had plenty of things to check off on his own to-do list.

This year Kaleb served the Mount Ellis Academy student body as Associated Student Body chaplain. He took the role seriously. Although an integral part of Mount Ellis Academy's basketball team, he didn't play this year so he could focus on developing the spiritual program at our school. At the end of his first chapel, he put his phone number on the screen and told his audience to call him for anything. Kids did. Those who needed help with homework got personal tutorial sessions in the dorm lobby at 8:30 at night. Those who had run out of shampoo got it delivered to them in their dorm. And then those just needing to talk got an empathetic ear and words of counsel.

Although Kaleb personifies the kind of student Mount Ellis Academy hopes to develop and inspire throughout our four-year program, he's not the kind of kid who's so good that sometimes you feel the need to pinch him. Kaleb Jones just does his thing, and if lifting up his classmates and school faculty and staff fits in with his jive then so be it.

For us at Mount Ellis Academy, students like Kaleb Jones make this school what it is. To recognize his contributions not only this year but for the four years he has attended, the faculty and staff of MEA have nominated Kaleb Jones for the Caring Heart Award 2020. 


Ashley Gray

Portland Adventist Academy, Portland, Oregon

Ashley Gray's abundant spirit of belonging overflows into the lives of those around her. During her four years at Portland Adventist Academy her 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 wholeheartedly 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 Christ alone can fill. When Jesus calls us to be His hands and feet, Ashley hears Him. Sharing His life-giving peace with others is a purpose Ashley lives out daily through her Caring Heart.


Jonathas Pavani

Puget Sound Adventist Academy, Kirkland, Washington

Jonathas was selected by the Puget Sound Adventist Academy staff because of his eagerness to serve others on our campus and for his servant-style leadership. As a senior, Jonathas often takes initiative to help other students with homework and challenges that they are facing. Teachers working on school events will often be asked by Jonathas if they need help. His desire and dependability to take initiative like this was a key reason that our staff nominated him.

Jonathas is not the first to speak in a group but engages as a listener mostly. He is not shy but rather chooses to say less. When he offers his thoughts on a particular topic of discussion, he will demonstrate a clear affirmation of what others have shared as he explains his opinions or thoughts.

A Brazilian citizen, Jonathas primarily speaks Portuguese. With English as a second language, it can be unnerving to speak. However, Jonathas exercises courage to share with others, even speaking up front at times, though he is unsure how well he is being understood. Because of this courage, his English pronunciation has improved remarkably.

Jonathas has been an active member of the campus ministries team for a couple years, working well with his peers on various projects and events to foster the Holy Spirit’s work on campus. He is creative and often shares fresh ideas on how to improve events like week of prayer, chapels, community outreach and other acts of love. These traits set him apart as a student who truly cares about his school and community.

Jonathas has made a noticeable impact on our school, and we know he will continue to do so wherever he goes. For these reasons, we are pleased to recognize Jonathas Pavani as this year’s Caring Heart Award recipient. Jonathas' parents are André and Angela Pavani.


Paris Quave

Rogue Valley Adventist Academy, Medford, Oregon

Paris Quave is a senior at Rogue Valley Adventist Academy. She is the daughter of Brett and Jodie Quave of Medford.

Paris has a keen interest in helping others. She has participated in many mission trips during her time in high school and is always willing to be part of the monthly local community service activities. She has a kindness about her that others gravitate to, mostly recognized by the younger students on campus. Music is something she excels at and is already teaching young students to love music as she does.

She currently plans to attend Walla Walla University and continue to help where needed because, even when others see the outreach as done, Paris thinks there are still more ways to assist those in need.


Karilyn Heinrich

Skagit Adventist Academy, Burlington, Washington

Skagit Adventist Academy is pleased to nominate one of its seniors, Karilyn Heinrich, as this year’s Caring Heart Award recipient. Karilyn possesses a sparkling, inclusive personality and has been an integral part of the Associated Student Body both her junior and senior years as well as senior spiritual vice president. Karilyn’s caring and thoughtful spirit has her involved in feeding the homeless through the Friendship House as well as other youth outreach activities.

SAA has been blessed with Karilyn’s passion for Jesus during weeks of worship. Her love for Jesus shines through as she shares His love with her classmates. In addition to witnessing, Karilyn has a passion for music and leading out in a variety of singing groups both at school and church. 

Karilyn had the opportunity to demonstrate her missionary spirit as a sophomore when she traveled to Puerto Rico for a school-sponsored mission trip. Arriving soon after Hurricane Maria devastated the island, Karilyn and her classmates helped with the recovery by painting new houses, repairing battered buildings, cleaning up debris and repainting the local Adventist church.

Her plans for next year are to pursue a career in physical therapy, but she hasn’t finalized on a college yet. Her parents are Kevin and Rebecca Heinrich. 


Tawni Lloyd

Upper Columbia Academy, Spangle, Washington

"I have not known Tawni Lloyd for very long. Since this is my first year as food service director at UCA, I tried to get to know a lot of students this year. This I can say though: Tawni stands out in my mind.  She worked on the evening crew at the cafeteria. I led the morning crew. When our paths would cross though, I always knew that I would see her beautiful smile and her positive work attitude would shine through. 

"I wish this year had not been cut short. Tawni told me that she came to UCA because of the positive social atmosphere. She wanted to spend time getting to know the other students and the staff. I know she didn’t want to see the year end so soon.

"I am so thankful that I had the chance to meet Tawni. Her caring heart is very evident in all she does, from mission trips to washing dishes. Thank you Tawni. We miss you!" — Sheila Allison


Jia Willard

Walla Walla Valley Academy, College Place, Washington

Jia Willard graduated from Walla Walla Valley Academy in June after four years of expressing God’s love and leadership to her school and community. Her efforts serve as a model of sacrifice and kindness to all those around her.

Jia has worked to improve her school through traditional means by holding class and student body office several times. She excelled at organizing events like girls-only vespers and encouraging students to get involved in a welcoming environment. She courageously shared her faith and challenges with students individually and as a speaker in assembly.

What sets Jia apart are the ways she has sought to improve her community outside of WWVA. She volunteers at the Christian Aid Center. Last year she volunteered to share her experiences as an Asian student in a mostly white school with the students of Rogers Adventist School. That initiative led to the creation of a Diversity Matters Committee of parents, teachers and students, in which Jia is an active member.

Jia also volunteers as a one-on-one student mentor for at-risk kids at Davis Elementary School. She helps sponsor a mentorship group for fifth through sixth grade girls that teaches them positive relationships.

During her final isolated quarter, Jia produced a video of interviews for her fellow seniors to fill the void left by our separation. Jia has inspired all of us by selfless efforts and by speaking up for what is right, all while showing God’s love and patience.

Jia plans to study education or sociology next year at Western Washington or the University of Portland. Her parents are Kirk and Susan Willard of College Place.

Featured in: July/August 2020