About Us

Since 2006

Community health care for those most in need.

Our History

The Grace Centre, a nonprofit organization, was co-founded in 2006 by Padre Mario Ochoa, a member of the Missionary Fraternity of Mary, along with a group of concerned Minnesotans who wanted to help provide basic necessities such as clean water, basic nutrition and adequate health care to the people in the communities of Guatemala.


Helping hands

In 2010, in collaboration with the people of La Leyenda, Guatemala and Our Lady of Rosary parish, Grace Centre  funded the construction of a water filtration plant which provides clean drinking water for the people in the surrounding community.

From there, Grace Centre, once again partnering with the people of San Pedro Ayampuc area and the Sangre de Cristo Health Care Project, built a one-story medical clinic near the site of the water treatment plant in La Leyenda, which features a larger waiting area, a pre-consult room and two consultation rooms, and pharmacy. The community celebrated the opening and dedication of the La Leyenda Clinic in November 2011.

Grace Centre was an integral raising the funding the building of another clinic as well as supporting a health and nutrition program in San Jose Nacahuil, an indigenousness, Mayan Kachiquel community. The clinic now run by Project AK’ASLEN (Our Life) is helping to feed children and provide milk with a regular nutritional program as well as run clinic and pharmacy.

Then in 2015 Grace Centre’s latest partnership with Sangre de Cristo Health Care Project opened its doors to serve the community of La Laguenta. This new clinic is a sign of commitment to the community and surrounding areas that access to that Sangre de Cristo is there to stay and offer support and the care they need.

What Drives Us

Our Mission

Grace Centre is a Christian faith-based organization that strengthens impoverished communities in Guatemala partnering with local organizations to improve the quality of life among people through health initiatives. We support building projects and ongoing programs in response to the expressed needs of the communities

Why Health Care?

HEAlth & Sanitation

Diseases from unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. Children are especially vulnerable, as their bodies aren’t strong enough to fight diarrhea, dysentery and other illnesses. 90% of the 30,000 deaths that occur every week from unsafe water and unhygienic living conditions are children under five years old. Many of these diseases are preventable. The Worldwide Health Organization reports that over 3.6% of the global disease burden can be prevented simply by improving water supply, sanitation, and hygiene. (sourceA WHO study in 2012, calculated that for every $ 1.00 invested in sanitation, there was a return of $ 5.50 in lower health costs, more productivity, and fewer premature deaths.


Chronic malnutrition results in disease, infections, brain stunting, and in the most tragic cases, death. Eighty-five percent of Guatemalan children who die of malnutrition are five years of age or younger. Our programs serve this vulnerable group who suffer the most from lack of food and clean water.

The reasons for chronic malnutrition in Guatemala are based on several factors:

  • Poverty and income inequality
  • Increased price of food like beans and eggs
  • Poor access or non-existent electricity
  • Lack of clean or running water


2018 GuideStar
Silver Seal

Grace Centre has earned a 2018 Silver Seal of Transparency on from GuideStar! Now our community, potential donors, and funders can tangibly see our commitment to financial accountability.


Our Board

Jim McDonald

Board President

Jim has been active with the Grace Centre since 2007. The founder of McDonald Remodeling, Jim has contributed his skills and expertise in construction and design to the work of Grace Centre. Jim has many ties to Guatemala and has traveled to the country dozens of times over the last several decades to volunteer and contribute his skills. Jim is also a member of the honorary board of Common Hope, another NGO working in Guatemala, and formerly served on Common Hope’s executive board, including four years as board chair. Jim lives in Inver Grove Heights, MN with his wife Peggy.

Gerry Thomas


Gerry joined the board of Grace Centre June 2014 as Treasurer.  He has been the CFO of a franchise company and distribution company for the last 10 years.  He earned his BS degree in Accounting from St Cloud State University and a Masters degree in Finance from the University of St Thomas.  He is a Certified Management Accountant and has earned a Certificate in Strategy and Competitive Analysis.  Gerry is married with 3 adult children.  He and his family have lived in Inver Grove Heights for over 20 years.

Dr. Mary Bretzman

Board Member

As a family physician, Mary sees the urgent need for health care. She has been on the board of Grace Centre since 2007. Since then, she has traveled twice to Guatemala and has developed a keen interest in supporting the medical programs in the communities that partner with Grace Centre.

Chris Gosswiller

Board Member

Chris Gosswiller became a member of The Grace Centre board December 2015 as Recording Secretary. She currently works part-time as an independent contractor where she works with small business owners with marketing and administrative projects.  Chris is held previous leadership and board positions with Emanuel Lutheran Church, ECFE of South St. Paul/Inver Grove Hts, and MOMS Club of Inver Grove Hts.  She has a passion for helping others and enjoys sharing her God-given talents of planning and organization with The Grace Centre. In her spare time, Chris loves spending time with her husband, Dan, of 26 years, her two children and their dog Zeus, crafting, traveling and reading.  

Linda Anderson

Board Member

My interest in health care began while volunteering at my local hospital in high school. Now a Registered Nurse, I earned my B.S.N. from Winona State University and have hospital, clinical, and home heath experience serving Endocrinology, Geriatric, Pediatric and Neurology patients. I believe that quality health care is the essential first step in elevating and improving the lives of people in developing countries like Guatemala.