15 year-old Joe Vitale has his sights set on an Eagle Scout ranking, but more importantly, he has a goal to globalize his volunteerism and bring education to those less fortunate.
Vitale is currently fundraising so he can build a school in Laguna Seca, Guatemala. The idea formed from a trip he took with his family in 2007 to Guatemala, where he said he was inspired meeting local children. Their school, he said, was more like a shack.
"They had no seats or surfaces to write on, only the dirt floor. Later, during the tour, we were able to hand out school supplies, clothing and shoes," Vitale said. "We didn’t have enough for all of the children and it broke my heart. The look on the children’s faces when we were giving things out made me realize how lucky we are in the United States and how we take things for granted here."
Vitale's mother lived in Guatemala until age 12, and his great grandmother was a teacher for indigenous Mayans in the area. For Vitale, the roots are deep, and his Eagle Scout project would strive to help an impoverished area while honoring his family.
"I can implement something that would not only change the lives of hundreds of children in Guatemala, but also mine, and hopefully the lives of those who support me in this mission."
"The rainy season is coming and the school is in jeopardy of being washed away. The fourth, fifth and sixth graders in Laguna Seca have to go to work at 2 a.m. at a poultry farm cleaning chickens, which pay them .07 cents per chicken. Each child has to do 30 chickens before they can attend school. Yet, they are eager to attend school on time," Vitale said.
The scout is looking to raise $10,000 for the project, which he said he will complete through teamwork with his troop and with leaders near and far. The scout has set a deadline of 2013, when he hopes to dedicate the school on his great grandmother's centennial.
To supplement fundraising, Vitale has partnered with The Giving Project, who has built other schools globally for around $22,000.
"My commitment to the project is $10,000 and The Giving Project will raise the remaining funds and handle the municipalities in Guatemala."
To donate to the fund, please visit Vitale's fundraising website.