Schools and Libraries
March 7, 2017From: Northern Virginia Community College - Alexandria Campus
Growing up in Managua, Nicaragua, there were days when Elvira Nevarez and her four siblings went without food. Living in a single-parent household, there were many days she attended school hungry. When members within the community assisted her family with various acts of kindness, Nevarez appreciated their generosity and knew one day she would be able to pay it forward. Now, years later, as an administrative assistant in the Allied Health Division at NOVA's Medical Education Campus (MEC), Nevarez has been instrumental in developing a feeding center in her home country for children in need of proper nutrition.
Comedor Infantil Getsemani Nicaragua, translated Children's Dining Room of Gethsemane Nicaragua, provides meals to over 250 children twice a week, making it one of the most productive feeding centers in Managua. With the help of donations from her church, family and friends, Nevarez assisted in raising $7,000 to help build the Comedor in only one year.
Nicaragua is considered one of the poorest countries in Latin America, with extremely impoverished neighborhoods in its capital of Managua. At 15, Nevarez moved to the United States to live in Woodbridge with her father, yet she still maintained close ties with family and friends in her home country. Once a year, Nevarez travels to Managua to volunteer at the Comedor and visit family. In addition to offering meals to those in need, the feeding facility also hosts various community engagement programs such as toy, clothing and school supply drives.
"The continuous feedback we receive from parents and people within the community is simply amazing," Nevarez said. "They are so grateful. So many of them did not realize the positive impact something like this would have in their lives. In Managua, there are so many children who go without food, clothes and even shoes. Although we mainly assist children, we never turn anyone away who is in need. I realized how blessed I am and I wanted to do something to help."
Nevarez began her career at NOVA in 2003 at the Woodbridge Campus prior to moving to MEC to work in NOVA Workforce and now as the administrative assistant in the Allied Health Division. She is a 1998 graduate of Gar-Field High School in Woodbridge. Her humanitarian efforts in Managua has transitioned into developing a non-profit foundation in Prince William County in effort to end homelessness within her local community. Nevarez and her husband, a general contractor, plan to officially start the foundation, Oasis en el Desierto, in July 2017. She encourages others to adapt the mentality, "if you can make a difference in the lives of others, why not?"