By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published May 9, 2013
ROSWELL—Allee Smith had homeless women and children she’s served on her mind as she competed in beauty pageants.
Smith, 18, who was Miss Fulton County Outstanding Teen 2012, volunteered at the Drake House and spoke out about ending homelessness during her competitions.
The home is a residential crisis center for women and children in north Fulton County.
In her pageants, the senior at Blessed Trinity High School promoted Drake House as a way to help reduce the large number of homeless children in Georgia. The solution isn’t temporary housing to warehouse people, but offering classes and social services so that families can get “back on their feet, back out working, and a home,” she said.
Knowing there are so many people in need of help “motivates you to do more,” she said.
The Drake House was just one of the places where Smith spent her time. Her resume includes more than 575 service hours at 14 different charities with the National Charity League, a mother-daughter organization committed to community service. She’s worked at Habitat for Humanity, Meals on Wheels, and Drake House, volunteering also for the Order of Malta’s youth pilgrimage to Lourdes, France, where she helped the sick coming to the healing baths of the Marian shrine.
The oldest daughter of Dr. David and Michele Smith, her family lives in Roswell and attends St. Brigid Church, Johns Creek. Outside of her charity work, she can be seen dancing in Blessed Trinity’s performing arts program.
For her efforts, Smith received the 2012 “Charity in Action” Basilica Service Award from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
The famous motto by Ralph Waldo Emerson is fuel for Smith. The 19th-century writer said, “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
Spending time with children and families in need has shown her that “even the smallest action can make a difference,” she said.
A second lesson, Smith said, is “I have learned to never judge someone too quickly because you never know their story.”
For students just starting high school, Smith encourages them to “be true to yourself.”
“The ups and downs of high school help you discover yourself if you let them, but you cannot let yourself get caught up in it all or else you will lose sight of who you want to be and what you want to do,” she said.
On Blessed Trinity’s Roswell campus, Smith raised the profile of Habitat for Humanity.
As the chapter president, she took up the challenge from State Farm Insurance when it offered a $10,000 matching grant, which is within reach. The insurance company pushed the students to do more advocacy and education since the fundraising seemed to come easily, Smith said.
The student activists took it on. They papered the school with facts about housing needs, hosted a letter-writing campaign to Congress, and they built a “shantytown” on the large grassy lawn in front of the school where they could greet the car pool lines and hand out information
Kathy Hoffman is a religion teacher and the faculty advisor for BT’s Habitat for Humanity chapter. She’s seen Smith’s maturity and creativity at work.
Since her sophomore year, Smith has represented the Habitat chapter at annual leadership conferences. At the 2012 conference, she was the only high school student who participated in a panel that focused on the challenges of leadership in campus chapters.
“Her creativity and imagination has helped us develop ideas for new fundraising and advocacy projects, and her work ethic helped make those concepts a reality,” said Hoffman.
Smith is heading to Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, Tenn., in the fall, where she intends to study biology.