The birdseed never falls far from the tree. Or is it the apple? For Nicolas and his mom, Cheryl, it’s both.
Nicolas is a Vaya Health member with severe Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities, but that doesn’t stop him from earning his own money. Nicolas has a microenterprise, Nick’s Bodacious Bird Bites, that sells handmade bird seed ornaments in Ashe County. In fact, they are for sale at the same store in West Jefferson as some of Cheryl’s yarn. Cheryl is a fiber artist and teacher and agrees that Nick gets his crafty side from her.
“It’s fun for us because we can make things and not have to keep it all,” said Cheryl.
With a little help to heat up some of the ingredients on the stove, Nick mixes up the ingredients, spoons them into various shaped molds, adds a ribbon for hanging and finishes by packaging and adding a label. Cheryl says they’ve been popular around town and a great way to attract birds if you want to watch them, though bears have been known to enjoy them, too. They also give Nick something constructive to do. He enjoys using his hands to create things, and Cheryl says he likes to keep busy.
It all started several years ago. Nick attends Summit Support Services in Ashe County where they make various arts and do other activities. They noticed that attendees each gravitated towards certain crafts that they really enjoyed doing and decided to help them make a little extra money by selling their crafts at the office, including Nick’s Bodacious Bird Bites. Cheryl said it gives them a sense of accomplishment and pride.
“Money doesn’t really mean anything to Nick,” said Cheryl. “I think he gets contentment and happiness from it.”
It also gets him out and in the community. Whether it was selling at local farmer’s markets or buying supplies, he was meeting and greeting everyone he met before the COVID-19 pandemic put things on hold. Cheryl said everyone there knows who Nick is because of how active he is around town. They also like supporting him and the other members who have their crafts for sale at Summit Support Services. There’s everything from potholders and art to cards and dog treats.
“It makes people feel really good to buy the products from Nick and the others because they have a sense that they’re supporting the community,” said Cheryl. “Plus, they get something they can use.”
To buy one of Nick’s Bodacious Bird Bites, you can visit the Quilt Square Girls store in West Jefferson. You can also visit Summit Support Services or make a request or get additional information from their administration office at 336-846-4491.
View other Vaya member businesses and read their stories on our Microenterprise Directory.