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Young Ukrainian woman enjoys new life in Union

June 20, 2006, 0:00 3597 Author: Marty Minchin Charlotte Observer

After rough childhood, Diana Quinn is given opportunity to succeed

Metrolina Christian Academy's graduating class will include one senior who has worked hard just to be a normal girl.

Diana Quinn's life story, even at 19, is far from ordinary, however. I talked this week with Diana, whose story is as close to miraculous as they come.

Diana is from Kiev, the capitol of Ukraine. She spent her early years in an abusive background and ran away when she was 10.

"I began living on the streets by myself," she said. "Every once in a while I would see my mother from a distance, and I would just run in the other direction."

Diana says she begged for food and money, eventually joining a gang where the leader spent the group's earnings on drugs and alcohol.

Her life changed one night when she and a girlfriend were hanging out on a bridge in Kiev.

"We were hungry and pretty cold," Diana said. "This lady came up and gave us a business card that had an address and a phone number. She said if you come to this place we will clothe and feed you."

Diana and her friend liked the offer and went to the two-bedroom apartment listed on the card. That place evolved into a Christian orphanage for Ukrainian street children.

At one point, a man from Springfield, Mo., visited the orphanage and took Diana back to the U.S. to have surgery to correct her scars.

Diana eventually returned to the orphanage in Ukraine, and four years ago she ran into Tara Quinn there.

Tara was on a mission trip with Metrolina Christian Academy as a chaperone, a position she accepted at the last minute when another team member had to step out.

"(I had) started praying, `God, I'm ready to have a family and go back to the United States,' " Diana said. "It seemed like forever I was praying for that."

Diana ran into Tara at the bottom of the stairs in the orphanage. "I just hugged her, and she hugged me back," Diana said. "I remember it was just a wonderful moment."

Diana and Tara spent more time together during Tara's stay, and Diana told Tara her life story.

"When she left that day, I said, `God, it would be so nice if she could be my mom,' " Diana said.

Fast forward to May 2006. Diana is now Diana Quinn and lives in Monroe as the adoptive daughter of Tara and Larry Quinn.

"I have a mom, a dad and three great brothers," Diana said. "I have a very wonderful family just like I've been praying for. God answers our prayers, even when we think he's quiet. He did mine."

Rick Calloway, administrator of Metrolina Christian Academy, said Diana, who didn't start school until she was 12, was about two grade levels behind when she entered Metrolina three years ago.

"Diana has turned into an outstanding student," he said. "She has worked overtime to catch up and more than succeed in her studies."

Diana said Metrolina Christian Academy has been a great experience.

"It's just been wonderful," she said. "I've made lots of new friends, and this weekend I had my prom, and me and all my friends went to prom and went bowling. Those precious memories I will always treasure and remember."

As for her future, Diana said she's now working in the preschool at Metrolina Christian Academy and hopes to attend school to learn massage therapy.

And maybe someday, she says, she'll try to find her biological mother, whom she hasn't seen or spoken to in eight years. Diana says she still loves her.

"That's just one of those things I'm just praying to God that he will reveal to me," Diana said about finding her birth mother. "And maybe someday I can travel back and find out."

Drop Me a Line

If you have something for Our Towns from Stallings, Indian Trail, Lake Park or the surrounding area, I'd love to hear from you. Marty Minchin Union Observer "Our Towns" 132 S. Main St.

Monroe, NC 28112 Fax to (704) 289-4669.

E-mail to himarty@charlotte observer.com.

I welcome photos (make sure everyone is clearly identified left to right). Drop them in the mail or e-mail them as a JPEG file. Be sure to include a daytime phone number. For more information, call (704) 289-6576, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays. Marty

Minchin

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