ALUMNUS OF THE MONTH
This month’s Alumnus of the Month spotlight belongs to
Colleen (Bennett) Flinn, Class of 2005.
Colleen Flinn is an entrepreneur who currently lives near Pleasant Plains, IL with her husband, Tim, and their three children: Cashin – aged 5, Robyn – aged 3, and Leo – aged 18 months.
After graduating from Routt Catholic High School in 2005, Colleen went on to Southern Illinois University-Carbondale where she studied and received a degree in Social Work. After her time at Carbondale, she just wasn’t done studying the subject and decided to pursue a Masters of Social Work (MSW) from the University of Illinois-Champaign. “I believe it is my upbringing and Catholic education that propelled me into the field of social work,” says Colleen. “During my time at Routt I learned the importance of taking a stance and giving the voiceless, a voice. I had several influential teachers at Routt that taught me two important values that help define my work as an adult: finding an issue that you wholeheartedly believe in, and doing everything in your power to make a difference.” Colleen believes that the small class size at Routt gave the staff time to familiarize themselves with the students, allowing them to give her in particular the room she needed to “flex the activism muscle I needed to grow but also the structure that all teens need.”
After Colleen and Tim had their first child, Colleen decided to stay at home to raise their growing family. Even while staying at home, a passion that was growing inside of her was learning more about how we, as humans, impact the environment. Through research she learned better ways to live that created less waste – her methods were quickly changing their household’s overall output. She was making a difference. She got the courage to start a Facebook page to share with others how these small things were making such a positive change in her household and quickly grew a following of others interested in the same subject.
One of the ideas to which Colleen was particularly drawn was beeswax food wraps, an all natural alternative to plastic wrap and baggies. She began manufacturing her own beeswax food wraps and the rest is history – Colleen’s company, “Nothing Fancy Supply Co” was born. Colleen has put countless hours into this subject that she was so curious. “I have worked markets, asked lots of questions, and educated countless individuals on the importance of using less plastic and how beeswax food wraps can be a good starting point for their households.” Since its inception less than one year ago, Nothing Fancy Supply Co has grown from her kitchen into a studio and is sold at stores in 4 different states. To learn more about her products, please visit www.nothingfancysupply.com.
When asked about her time at Routt Catholic, Colleen was exceptionally frank. “I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t address the fact that 20 years ago, I never would’ve believed that Routt would be highlighting me as an Alumnus of the Month,” says Colleen. “My time at Routt was bittersweet. I was eager to leave and thought I’d never look back, but as God often does he has brought me back full circle. My biggest supporters with my business have been Routt graduates.” Two graduates in particular that Colleen is especially thankful for are Rachel (Kindred ‘05) Kesler, and Wendy (Bergschneider ‘01) Smith, both having provided mass encouragement to Colleen in her business endeavor. Another Routt alum who has been a vital part of Colleen’s growing business, and someone who she is also very thankful for, is Trevor Lahey (‘92). “When I called him at Lahey Machine and explained what I needed, he didn’t hesitate once to hop on board with my crazy idea of building a machine to put beeswax on fabric.” It’s been an unexpected journey from her time at Routt to owning a business, but Colleen is incredibly grateful for the experiences that she’s had. “I believe it’s the family-like community that Routt creates that allows these unlikely connections to be made. I am forever grateful for the community Routt has given me.”
If you know of a Routt graduate who you would like to nominate as a future Alumnus of the Month, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.