Vai is a senior at Fayetteville High School. He is a member of the FHS wrestling team and works hard in school! He loves to hang out with his friends and wants to make a big difference for the hurting and broken in his community.
If you were one of Santa’s reindeer, which would you be?
I would definitely want to be Rudolph. Because one, that’s the only reindeer I know. And because he is different; he’s an exception in the group of reindeer. Everyone made fun of him, but he is the difference maker!
Does your family have a traditional holiday food that is unique?
We cook duck instead of turkey. Duck to me is like a finer chicken- it’s amazing! Once I ate it, I was hooked. We roast it, just like a turkey, but it’s a duck.
How would you describe yourself in three adjectives?
Compassionate: It’s how I was raised. I have a lot of sympathy for people- my heart really goes out to them. I really do enjoy helping others.
Reckless: Cause I am young! I don’t really make dumb decisions but I think [being reckless] is a part of being a teenager.
Funny: Not to be cliché, but I think I’m funny!
Who is your role model and why?
Definitely my mother, because she perseveres through everything. She motivates me every day. Even though she drives me crazy sometimes, I still love her to death. She’s made it through it all, really. Through impossible [situations], she made it possible. I really look up to her for what she has come through, what she is doing for our family, and for raising me to be the man I am today.
How did you get involved with The Salvation Army?
During the summer, I always drive past it going to my friend’s house. I’ve always had a calling to go help the homeless and get involved in the community. I got my friend Kelson and asked him if he wanted to embark on a new adventure with me. So we went out and signed up to do volunteer work at The Salvation Army.
My heart brought me to The Salvation Army: I got a call and I can feel it in my soul. This is what I want to do in life. This is an avenue that I want to pursue. I want to get into helping the community and then I want to be a voice for the people.
I would love to go to school to be a Human Right’s Attorney and a Psychologist. Put that together and I can help folks and defend them. I want to be someone they can go to.
The first time I served there we worked for a little bit alongside a staff member and then took a break. During that break, he told me his life story: how he was an alcoholic, how bad his childhood and family were, and how the program worked for him. He gave me a fresh perspective. He had it rough, and he makes me want to help. Every time I serve, we end up talking about our life stories, and every time it’s like a new light bulb in my head. It’s a humbling experience. It changes my perspective because I always talk to someone new.
What is your #redkettlereason?
I want to make a difference in a corrupt society. I want to help give people a hand up, give them a hand that no one ever gives them. I have a call, and I want to be the hand that picks them up.
I love helping others! Giving someone hope they’ve never had before is great, because you know you helped that person feel better that day. You make a difference in people’s lives; that’s why I do it.
What advice would you give to another student who wants to make a difference in NWA?
Step out of yourself and consider [taking on] a fresh perspective. It’s hard in high school because the notion is that everyone is trying to jump-start their lives. They are wrapped up in themselves and are wrapped up in their lives. My advice is to really think about how you can help someone else. You can donate money. Or think about your skills: what can you do, build, or create to help another person? You can give people hope and purpose.
My role is to influence others, not force, but influence them.
You can create a spark in someone’s mind. The best way is to [serve] together with someone. It’s not about ‘you’ or ‘I’, it’s about us. It’s hard to get a revolution going, but my role is to demonstrate [service] so that they can join. I know a lot of kids that do want to help. It’s not conventional, but we want to make a change.