Ad Spot

June 24, 2021

Spirit of Rowan: Sarceno gives back to Guatemalan children, pays tribute to immigrant women in book

Author, activist and nonprofit founder Maria Elena Sarceno said she felt led by God to help others in need.

The Guatemalan native, 36, graduated from Colegio San Martín de Porres, which is located in Dolores, El Petén, Guatemala. There, she obtained a degree to become an auxiliary nurse. Through the connection of friends, Sarceno said, she moved to Salisbury in 2006.

And though no easy feat, since then, she has written a book paying tribute to immigrant women like herself, and has put Salisbury on the map in Guatemala with the establishment of a nonprofit organization.

In 2012, Sarceno established a nonprofit organization aimed at helping underprivileged children in Guatemala. “El Ángel que viene del cielo,” which translates to “The angel that came from heaven,” aims to provide school supplies, health services and training sessions to the impoverished.

The organization, she said, allows generous people who care about the welfare of others to offer opportunities in areas of extreme poverty, like Guatemala. To date, she estimates, the nonprofit has touched 400 children and 100 adults.

Though Guatemala has the richest economy in Central America, more than 60% of its population lives in poverty and nearly half of the children there face malnutrition, according to the World Bank.

“(My nonprofit) means a lot. It is my mission here on Earth,” Sarceno said. “I am very happy when I see the angelic faces of children.”

Most importantly, she said, is “working with the heart and humility.”

In 2018, Sarceno published a book titled, “Una mujer moldeando su destino,” which translates in English to “A woman shaping her destiny.”

Sarceno said the book draws its inspiration from Latin women who, “with effort and great courage, bring dreams that at first seemed unattainable to reality.”

“Through this book, you will meet a brave woman full of faith, who trusts in her abilities and in the tools that God has made available to me throughout my life,” she said. “This work is also a tribute to immigrant women. I have the greatest respect for them because, like them, I too had to fight a thousand adversities to build a decent life for myself in the United States and offer my children a better future.”

It’s an easy read with just 10 chapters and 106 pages. The book has four editions, and Sarceno plans to release an English version one day. Proceeds from book sales are put into Sarceno’s nonprofit organization. The book costs $20 and can be purchased online at

Sarceno credits Salisbury with being a “quiet community full of opportunities,” with many generous people. Looking ahead, she aspires for both public and private institutions to improve their Spanish communication channels, particularly with information about COVID-19, education, health and business creation.

“The Latino community is very entrepreneurial, and we just want one chance,” she said. “Salisbury could achieve even more growth if it allows the Spanish-speaking community to have access to information in their language.”

In Sarceno’s spare time, she enjoys posing for the camera, reading, going to the gym and dancing at home. She also has two children,  Helen Melany, 16, and Raymond Steve, 11.

Her message to her children? “Never say you can’t.”

“God placed in my heart, even in dreams, the need to help those most in need,” Sarceno said. “At first, I didn’t know how to do it, but with the help of God and a lot of effort, little-by-little the doors were opened.”



Rowan-Cabarrus Community College unveils tenants, training partners at Advanced Technology Center


Blotter: Salisbury man charged with drug, assault crimes


City of Salisbury to resume normal operations, return to in-person council meetings


Dreams of flight become reality at ASCEND summer camp


Base salary for SPD officers increases to nearly $42,000 next week


‘He loved people:’ Larry Ford leaves behind legacy of legal achievement, community service


Statewide pickleball tournament at Catawba College in September expected to draw hundreds of visitors


Resources still available for those dealing with lingering impacts of pandemic


Shoutouts: Misenheimer completes master’s degree in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College


State expands Principal of the Year to charter schools

High School

All-county baseball team: Norris Award winner Honeycutt made the most of a dozen games


Partners in learning raises $3.2 million for new facility


Tar Heel Boys State creates miniature government at Catawba College


NC medical marijuana legalization gets hearing in Senate


N. Carolina bill ending extra $300 benefits heads to Cooper


New COVID-19 positives in Rowan at lowest point since start of pandemic


Rowan Wild’s animal camp makes a comeback at Dan Nicholas Park


Health officials say financial incentives helped vaccination rates; lottery drawing today

Granite Quarry

Granite Quarry adopts budget that keeps tax rate flat


Airport Advisory committee endorses plans for expansion at Mid-Carolina Regional

China Grove

China Grove will celebrate 40th Farmers Day with week full of festivities


Pistons win in NBA draft lottery; Hornets will get 11th pick


Officers in Locust arrest drivers who tried to flee; one was on motorcycle reported stolen from Rowan


Panel OKs NC Senate budget bill; Dems pan policy provisions