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

Group of nursing students in front of newly built school in Guatemala

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

MARCH 10 - 17

Chaperones (Max Pitt, Cindy Pitt, Ethan Pitt and Jordan Byrd) accompanied 10 Graceland students to San Martin Jilotepeque to celebrate with the communities of Palo Blanco and La Majada as they took the next steps in building their schools. The two NGOs, People for Guatemala and Hombres y Mujeres en Accion, are the bridge and the support to the communities. Graceland students worked and celebrated with the community members.

APRIL 28 - MAY 26

Sharon Little-Stoetzel brought nursing students to work in clinics, take Spanish lessons and collaborate with nurse practitioner students from Florida Atlantic University. They also conducted school screenings in La Majada and Palo Blanco. The nursing students spent one week in Panajachel (a transitional week) where they lived in homes, volunteered in clinics and went to Spanish school. The second week they worked in clinics and conducted well child checkups in the villages surrounding San Martin. Nursing students have the opportunity to differentiate between how nursing care is delivered in the United States and Guatemala. The experience is invaluable to see firsthand how poverty affects health in a third world country.

Students in Guatemala on stage dancingStudents around building supplies in GuatemalaFemale student interacts with Guatemalan childrenTwo female nursing students look over notes in GuatemalaTwo female nursing students interact with Guatemalan children in a clinic setting.