I’M A BENNIE
Nancy Fitzimons Alvarado ’88 visits with Laura and Cristina, the recipients of the first Bricks to Bread oven in Costa Rica.
NANCY FITZIMONS ALVARADO ’88 BRICKS TO BREAD From a plane to an SUV to a motorized canoe to a bus … it’s not easy to get to Barrio Escalante, Costa Rica. The indigenous Bribri people kind of like it that way. But in March, a group of volunteers made the trek in order to help build a brick oven in the community. The project is the third community brick oven built in Costa Rica by Bricks to Bread, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit co-founded by Nancy Fitzimons Alvarado ’88. “We are an emerging ministry that began with a group of friends in 2012 building an oven for a family in need,” says Nancy. Bricks to Bread works with partners like the Peace Corps in Costa Rica to help identify and vet the recipients of their ovens. For this most recent build, Nancy’s daughter Ana Grace Alvarado ’20 (who serves on the Bricks to Bread board of directors)
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was able to serve as an in-country liaison while studying abroad in Costa Rica. Bricks to Bread is a family passion for the Alvarados.
Currently, Nancy’s full-time career is as the finance and operations director for a community-based nonprofit in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis.
First-year residence hall
“After our first in-country oven, my husband and I personally built one at our house (in St. Louis Park, Minnesota) to use as a way to demonstrate to our local supporters the functionality of the oven with the idea of baking just as they do in Costa Rica and selling to our communities just as they do in Costa Rica,” Nancy explains. “The oven has become an icon in our community just as the ovens become icons in Costa Rican communities. We bake bread every other week as long as it is above 40 degrees. All proceeds go toward building our future ovens. We’ve had pizza party fundraisers, we bake flat breads during our spring fundraiser and pretzels during our Oktoberfiesta.”
“It is my dream and passion to someday focus 100 percent of my efforts on serving Bricks to Bread and the amazing Costa Rican women and families we work with,” says Nancy. “Until then, we will continue to refine our mission and our programs and build local global citizens by providing mission trip experiences to our friends and families here at home.”
You can learn more about Bricks to Bread and how you can contribute or take part at brickstobread.org.
Major at CSB Spanish and what was at that time called international business
First-floor Corona (Just down the hall from Ana’s first-year room!)
Any class with Jack Farley
Favorite Bennie memory It’s actually the more recent ones that are the most vibrant in my memory. My Bennie friends are still my very best friends. We see each other often and have always supported each other during life’s ups and downs. To this day, my son (at age 15) thinks my college roommate Jeanne Cavanagh’s sons Ben and Nico are his cousins! He says, “We must be cousins because we don’t see each other very often, but when we do, it’s as if it was just yesterday, and we’re best friends all over again.”
Saint Benedict’s Magazine is published three times a year by the Office of Institutional Advancement.