Fort Mill native Alex Quinn already knows her passion in life is helping orphaned children in Haiti.
Quinn, 13, realized this two years ago when she took a trip to the village of Cambry in Haiti with her parents. Cambry is home to an orphanage that houses 143 children. A resident of Fort Mill’s Baxter Village and a student at Walnut Grove Christian School, Quinn, the reigning Junior Teen America, said she fell in love with the children in Haiti and was given the opportunity to help.
“It was a life-changing experience,” she said.
Quinn said the Cambry children weren’t getting enough to eat due to a lack of money.
“It was awful and heartbreaking,” she said. “I wanted so badly to help.”
On her first trip, Quinn also had the opportunity to help the medical team in Haiti. It was then that it became her her dream to be a surgeon and work in third world countries.
Quinn has been to Haiti five times and is going back Oct. 4-11 and Feb. 14-21 with Give Hope Global, a nonprofit organization based in Fort Mill and founded by Quinn’s parents Angela Quinn and Roger Braswell in 2012. Give Hope began its work in February 2013 and received nonprofit status soon after.
Give Hope works to improve the lives of disadvantaged young people living in Southwest Haiti, Angela Quinn said. It provides orphan care, medical care, education and entrepreneurship opportunities for the young people it serves, the Quinns said. Teams of Americans also visit Haiti every February, June and October.
Alex Quinn, who is the student director of Give Hope, said she looks forward to the trips each year.
“I love being in Haiti,” she said.
As student director for the group, Alex “advises the Give Hope Board in matters related to student interest and development both in regard to plans for the students in Haiti and for involving students in the U.S. to support the work of Give Hope,” her mom explained.
For two-and-a-half years, Alex Quinn has been supporting a young orphan named Nickson with $50 a month through the Give Hope Global Orphan Support Program.
“Our relationship has grown,” she said.
The recent Miss Teen America Scholarship Pageant winner makes and sells homemade bread and babysits to raise the $50. Her mom said she enjoys bringing her daughter on Give Hope trips.
“It’s such a blessing to see her go there and serve,” she said. “Alex can relate to those children in a way the adults can’t. She’s my hero.”
Alex Quinn has taken her passion for the orphaned children of Haiti to the pageant stage. Voted Miss Congeniality at the Miss Jr. Teen America pageant, held Aug. 2 at the Sandler Center for The Performing Arts in Virginia Beach, Va., Quinn represented the children of Cambry as her platform.
Pageant are another passion for Alex Quinn, who has been competing since age 9, including the Little Miss and Teen Miss Fort Mill and Tega Cay Pageant.
“I absolutely love it,” she said. “It helps build my self-esteem and confidence.”
The teen said pageants have also helped provide scholarships for school and helped hone her interview skills. Quinn said she feels a great responsibility as the reigning title holder.
“I was so blessed and honored to be a role model to girls all over the country,” she said.
After winning Miss Jr. Teen America, Quinn traveled to the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, N.J.
“It was something to remember,” she said. “It was such a great experience.”