Graceland University Horizons Alumni Magazine. Summer 2018 Issue
A group of students in Guatemala poses n front of the new school they built bearing a plaque recognizing Graceland's contribution.

Graceland's Guatemala C-o-n-n-e-c-t-i-o-n

Over the past two years, members of the Graceland community have teamed up with the Kansas City Chiefs to raise funds to build a middle school in the village of Palo Blanco, Guatemala, and another in La Majada, Guatemala.

As part of their efforts to help, students from the Graceland School of Nursing, Community Development Club and Enactus worked each of the Kansas City Chiefs’ home games offering wheel chair assistance.

This year, students worked a total of 10 home games along with a concert and have raised over $21,000. People for Guatemala, a nonprofit U.S.-based organization that raises money for Guatemala, helped the Graceland groups find a donor who matched what was raised for a total of over $40,000.

This will be the second school built in Guatemala since Associate Dean and Professor of Nursing Dr. Sharon Little-Stoetzel and her family began an initial fundraising effort in 2016. Little-Stoetzel explains that she and her husband were in the village of La Majada building stoves when it was casually mentioned by Lois Werner, the president of People for Guatemala, that the land “over there” was where the village wanted a school to be built. They just needed $20,000.

Upon returning to the U.S., Little-Stoetzel proposed the project to her daughter, Abbey, who was a Graceland student and a leader in the Community Development Club. Abbey brought the proposal to Max Pitt, faculty advisor to the club, and fundraising for the first school (La Majada) started in the fall of 2016. That year, the Graceland community worked six home Chiefs games as a joint effort between the School of Nursing and the Community Development Club.   

“The work we do with the Chiefs has provided one school in 2017 in the village of Las Majada where there was no school previously,” commented Little-Stoetzel. “A middle school is being built in the village of Palo Blanco this summer. The previous school was overcrowded and had a combination of elementary and middle school students.”

The people involved may have raised the money, but the planning and leadership of the school is in the hands of the community members surrounding where the school is to be built. Pitt says of the people in Guatemala, “Their investment and leadership ensures that our efforts do not create dependency or toxicity. We are only doing a small part. They are leading and giving their all for the benefit of their children and their community.”

"The Chiefs appreciate the dependable efforts that have come from the 20+ volunteers at each of the games. With enough Gracelanders working together, it is very possible that we can do our small part again next year as people in Guatemala
give all they have for their children."

- Max Pitt, MBA, '86
Associate Professor of Business