Barlow High School student uses his talents to pay kindness forward

Sixteen year-old Everett Davis has a big heart.

The trouble is he can’t decide where it belongs.

“I don’t think people care enough about each other,” Everett said. “We could all do so much more. Every little thing I do makes me want to do more.”

Everett is a tall drink of water, with soulful eyes that hint at the depth of his compassion for others. He recognizes that the ability to inspire people travels many different roads and doesn’t necessarily need to be done in grand measures. Humble and unassuming, Everett gets it that simply listening, mentoring or stepping up when others walk away can make a lasting impact on someone’s life.

The Barlow High School junior possesses a varied toolbox of talents. He teaches music to special-needs kids, instructs youngsters in tae kwon do at the Martial Arts Fitness Center in Gresham and recently coordinated a summer camp at the Springwater Church of the Nazarene. He is a 4.0 student, a member of the National Honor Society, Barlow’s Key Club, choir and theater group, and hopes to run track in the spring.

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Everett Davis uses music to help children with learning disabilities find a sense of pride and accomplishment in a skill. Nine-year old Ryan Woodward is learning the fundamentals of the piano.

Born in Portland and raised in Gresham, Everett is the son of Gordon and Judy Davis. His awareness of the needs in the world around him developed at an early age, according to his mom, after a trip to the zoo as a kindergartner.

“On the bus coming home, all the other kids were wound up and making animal noises, but the animal’s needs really bothered Everett,” Judy said. “He came home and looked around and said, ‘We could buy a bunch of land and let the animals live here.’ He is always looking for a purpose.”

Everett may have been unsuccessful in transplanting an elephant or rhino to his family’s backyard in rural Gresham, but he does share quarters with two cats, a dog and a goat — all rescue animals.

As an active member in the Springwater Church of the Nazarene’s youth group, Everett started helping with Sunday school classes while in the eighth grade. He wasn’t old enough to teach, he said, but felt compelled to get involved anyway. He counts the church’s former youth pastor, Robby Green, as one of the more influential people in his life.

“(Robby) could talk to anyone and make them feel like they mattered,” Everett said. “He worked with a lot of people who did drugs or alcohol and helped them work through their problems. I saw the difference that made and thought I wanted to do that too.”

In the summer of 2012, Everett volunteered at his church’s summer camp for kids. He helped with games and activities, designed for the kindergarten through fifth-grade crowd.

But news the church would cancel the annual event this summer didn’t sit well with him.

“There weren’t any funds, the youth director had left and everybody said, ‘Oh that’s too much work,’” Everett said. “The church elders weren’t interested at first, but I decided I had do something.”

Everett put the word out that camp would be held the week of Aug. 19-23. He asked for donations and, despite initial opposition from church elders, forged ahead recruiting friends as volunteers and planning activities.

“I asked for donations of food, and somehow everybody thought that meant cookies,” he said, laughing. “We had a lot of cookies! One church member is a teacher. She donated a lot of craft supplies and taught craft classes. In the end, the church elders supported us, so camp wouldn’t have happened without them.”

The venture was so successful that expanding the event to two weeks next summer is already under discussion. Everett admits that managing all the details, from volunteers to programming, for a weeklong event was a bigger bite than he anticipated.

“I’m good at making things happen, but I’d rather be involved with the kids,” he said.

Everett is a self-taught musician whose proficiency extends from the piano to the trumpet and ukulele. Currently, he tutors two children on the piano, both of whom have learning disabilities. He holds a second-degree black belt in tae kwon do and has been helping younger students earn their belts for two years. But Everett admits that sometimes his enthusiasm to do everything gets the better of him. He credits his tae kwon do training for helping him make peace with the inevitable limitations in life.

“If I could ignore the rules and do whatever I wanted to do, everything would be a lot more fun,” he said. “But tae kwon do has taught me to respect boundaries and rules.” by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Everett considers Walt Disney an inspiration because the iconic imagineer never subscribed to naysayers when it came to his dreams.

Everett’s future career path is undefined at the moment — he vacillates between teaching and movie production — but he wants his life’s work to have meaning. In a perfect world, he said, community members would take care of each other. But for now, he’s intent on being the pebble in the pond, making a difference one ripple at a time.

“It’s just a feeling — like when your life has been touched by something someone has done for you,” Everett said. “I want to give back what I’ve gotten from my role models. I want to pay it forward and inspire other people.”

Recognize a local student

Shining Star is a monthly feature that recognizes local students quietly doing great things in the community. Outlook readers, parents and teachers are encouraged to tell us about a student of any age whose talents outside the academic arena are making our world a better place. Do they volunteer regularly at a retirement center? Have they taught an artistic practice to a youth group? What are they doing in the community that makes us proud to call them our neighbor?

Tell us about a Shining Star you know by contacting Anne Endicott at 503-492-5118 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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