Story By Beth Donze, Clarion Herald
Photos By Beth Donze; others courtesy of the Quintana family
While reading up on Haiti a few years ago, Lucy Quintana was saddened to learn that most homes had one room, no electricity and were made of flimsy materials; schools were poorly equipped; and many families struggled to feed themselves.
But what shocked Lucy even more was how relatively little it would take to make life better in the earthquake-ravaged country:
• Just 15 cents could feed a child for a day.
• $80 could buy one year of school tuition.
• $1,200 covered a full year’s salary for a teacher.
Wanting to make a difference, Lucy began making handmade soaps – complete with deliciously scented essential oils and whimsical shapes – and donating 20 percent of the sale proceeds to St. Dominic Parish’s Haiti Partnership with Mont Carmel, a Catholic church and school located in Haiti’s mountainous southern peninsula.
“I just felt like something wasn’t right about how things are over there – how they have to work so hard to get some things that are easy for us to get,” said Lucy, now 11 and a St. Dominic sixth grader.
To date, Lucy’s home-based business, called “Lucy Love” in honor of her mother’s pet name for her, has generated about $800 for the Haiti Partnership.
Lucy said her passion for soap-making began when she spotted a soap kit in Hobby Lobby.
“It looked really cool, so my mom bought it for me,” Lucy said. “I kept on making soaps, I looked up videos, I kept on improving my soaps.
“I’m very crafty – just the way that I get to use my creativity to form the soaps. There are so many ways (to make them). I’m not just pouring them. I really take time to make them look good.”
Lucy’s soaps are so well made, they often look good enough to eat. Her designs include popsicles, cupcakes, doughnuts and slices of pastel-colored cake. There are soaps created as party favors – packaged in a plastic cup and accompanied by a wash puff – as well as fun rainbow soaps, butterflies, fish, turtles, shells and fleurs-de-lis.
Lucy also crafts soaps for every holiday, including the ones she is stockpiling now: soaps shaped like Christmas trees, peppermint candy and king cakes.
Her egg-shaped soaps with a plastic dinosaur “trapped” inside are geared toward boys.
“The dinosaur is not (made of) soap, so they really want to wash their hands with it so they can get to the dinosaur,” Lucy said, smiling.
Hard pressed to name her favorite soap, Lucy confessed that her lifelike watermelon slices are especially fun to create.
First, she places cubes of clear, gelatinous soap base into the microwave and mixes the resulting liquid with a powdery pink dye made of mica. Melon-scented oil is then added, as are sesame seeds to mimic the watermelon pits.
Lucy pours the mixture into a circular mold and lets it dry for several hours before adding her next two soap colors: white for the inner rind and green (with blue swirls) for the outer rind.
“The way I do the rind makes it look so real,” Lucy said.
The sixth grader said she hopes to visit St. Dominic’s “twin parish” in Haiti when she turns the minimum age of 18.
“I really want to go! I was begging my mom, “Can you tell them to change the age?’” said Lucy, whose career plans include becoming a foreign-based missionary and teacher.
Meanwhile, Lucy enjoys altar serving, cross country, tennis, tumbling, dancing, Library Club and art. She also recently started a girls’ prayer group that meets every Tuesday during recess. Lucy and her peers read an excerpt from Scripture, discuss how they will try to live it out and journal about it.
As a “home missionary,” Lucy also finds inspiration in the example of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, who did “small things with great love.” Another St. Teresa – St. Teresa of Calcutta – also animates Lucy’s outreach to Haiti’s poor.
“She’s kind of on my side saying, ‘You’re doing great, Lucy! Keep it up!’” Lucy said. “I kind of feel like I want to be like her when I grow up.”
To learn more about “Lucy Love” soaps, call Rachel Quintana, Lucy’s mother, at 908-9586 or email Rachel.Quintana504@gmail.com.