Photo courtesy of Marissa Powell.

As Miss Utah USA 2013, Marissa Powell's striking beauty, countless ambitions and talents go without saying. But this singer, model and actress is extremely active in the community and has volunteered at Primary Children's Hospital for years. Her most recent service project was a trip to Port Au Prince, Haiti as an ambassador for the organization Healing Hands for Haiti from April 1–8.

Here's our exclusive interview with her about the experience:

Tell us a little about Healing Hands for Haiti.

Healing Hands for Haiti is dedicated to fostering the expansion and quality of rehabilitation services for the benefit of physically disabled adults and children in Haiti. It is operated on the principle that the best way to serve the people of Haiti is to enable them to serve themselves.  

So, what did you do to help them in that effort?


While in Haiti, we were able to visit orphanages that care for disabled children. Prior to our trip, each member of our team filled their suitcase with 50 pounds of toys and crafts to hand out to the children at the orphanages, so when we arrived we were able to personally give our items that we brought to them. My 9-year-old little brother packed up a couple of big plastic bags full of his favorite Hot Wheels cars for my sister and I to hand out to the children. To our surprise, it was the hit of the orphanage! Seeing them so overjoyed by such a simple thing as a small little toy car was very touching. 

What other parts of your service trip stand out the most?
 
While in Haiti, we were able to spend time in orphanages with disabled children. This experience was on of the most life-altering events that I have ever experienced. The first couple of days for me were spent trying to get over the initial shock of realizing these beautiful little kids live in such heartbreaking conditions, but by the end of the trip I had grown so attached to the children and they taught me that they were happy and full of love. Even though they didn't have much, they were overjoyed to have food to eat and a roof over their head and someone to care for them. 

Why is service important to you, and how would you encourage others to get involved?
 
Service has always been the thing that brings joy into my life. Service is a great way to get outside of yourself and really make an impact on others. I have mostly served children. I have been a volunteer at Primary Children's Hospital each week since I was in high school, which has given me some of my closest friends and happiest memories. The great thing about service is the potential to serve others anywhere and everywhere you are. There are always opportunities to serve in our communities in whatever you are able and willing to give your time and energy to. I have learned that the best way to serve is to find something I'm passionate about and then get involved to help make a difference.   

Are there any plans for future trips to Haiti?
 
As I was leaving, I was already planning my trip back. I would love to go again sometime next year. I left a little part of my heart with the children in Haiti. 
 
Marissa will compete for the title of Miss USA on June 16. To learn more about the Miss Utah USA pagaent or to view Marissa's profile, click here.