As the daughter and granddaughter of refugees, Ava Huyen Smith has learned from her role models to give everything a try. And it’s paid off. Today, this Roswell native runs a volunteer group with her family called Little Helpers. Since starting the organization with her family when she was three, Ava has helped match hundreds of organizations across several states with young, empowered philanthropists. She was crowned Teen Miss Georgia Earth and has even bigger plans to change the world…after graduating high school.
Tell us something you’ve learned in your experience that surprised you.
I am astounded by the number of people who have supported me on this journey. Family, friends, acquaintances and even strangers have cheered for me, asked how they can help and offered me encouragement. Their faith in me helps me believe in myself and I’ve realized I am stronger than I thought.
How do you use your platform to bring awareness to important issues?
I like working with community leaders, nonprofits and businesses to find relatable and creative ways to celebrate diversity and promote sustainability. It’s more fun when you get to work with others for a common goal. Next year my friend Lily and I want to start a club at Roswell High School to inspire teens to be easy on the earth with a sustainable lifestyle. I hope to keep showing people you’re never too young to be a positive influence.
What are some ways you stay motivated when things get tough?
I sing and play 11 musical instruments, so I find comfort, peace and motivation in music. When I need to reset or unwind, I pick up an instrument and learn a new song. One of my favorite artists has always been Billy Joel after my dad introduced me to his music and took me to a concert.
What are some of your favorite places in Atlanta?
My favorite places give me a chance to celebrate different cultures. I’m a bit obsessed with Vietnamese, Korean and Japanese food, so I love Tanaka Japanese Restaurant in my neighborhood or anything on Buford Highway.