After months of planning and construction, Marlboro teenager Joe Vitale saw his dream come alive as the doors opened to a new school for students in Guatemala.
The dream began in 2007, during a trip Vitale 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."
So Vitale took action, and now he has an entire school to show for it.
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."
To supplement his own fundraising, Vitale partnered with The Giving Project, who has built other schools globally for around $22,000.
Now, in a partnership with School of the World, the school will also receive a brand new and stocked library.
With the completion of this project, Vitale hopes to receive his Eagle Scout rank in 2013.
"This journey has enlightened and given me compassion that I have never imagined," Vitale said. "I will always be connected to each child and hope to help them further throughout my life."