Bits 'n' Pieces: Bay grad sheds light on allergies

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Using her background in visual design, Heather Nicewonger embraced a weakness to create a nonprofit organization.

As part of her graduation from Cornish College of the Arts, Nicewonger created SafeCupboard, an organization that will promote awareness of food allergies and resources for the Art and Design BFA Show.

She first developed a business and mission plan, built off her own quest to better understand her allergies.

"My project was developed over the last two years, and indirectly over my entire life," the Hudson's Bay High School alumna wrote in an email. She began noticing adverse reactions to a growing number of foods but found her doctors weren't knowledgeable about food intolerances, allergies and sensitivities.

Nicewonger incorporated her personal research into a magazine project for school, which eventually expanded into her BFA project. "The number of things I wanted to do grew so rapidly, I decided to turn it into a cause for an organization," she said.

As the nonprofit took shape, Nicewonger designed a brand around her mission, complete with infographics, a website, smartphone app and promotional products.

At the BFA exhibition in May, her project's use of bold graphics to depict the number of Americans affected by the top eight food allergies drew a positive response from the attendees.

"We can't enjoy meals if we're constantly afraid of them, or worse, completely unaware that it's the food that makes us sick," wrote Nicewonger.

That is why she made sure her brand embraced the idea of a safe cupboard. After a well-deserved summer break, Nicewonger hopes to continue with the nonprofit to raise awareness and resources for food allergies.

"With any luck, five years from now you'll all be familiar with the whole concept," she added.--Ashley Swanson

Beer fest comes out ahead

photoArlene Nuñez at the Who's Your Daddy beerfest

Vancouver's first outdoor beerfest was a great success, despite a few minor glitches, said organizer Arlene Nuñez.

Nuñez, 50, of Hazel Dell owns By The Bottle, one of several sponsors of the June 16 event held downtown in Turtle Place.

The goal of Who's Your Daddy, named in honor of Father's Day, was to raise funds for local charity CDM Long Term Care Services.

About 1,300 people showed up and helped raise more than $10,600. Nuñez had hoped to raise $12,000, which would have doubled the proceeds from last year's indoor festival, but she said she's happy with the turnout and results.

"I'm OK with that -- it's all icing on the cake," she said.

One of the minor glitches came when organizers arrived in the morning to set up the space. There was no power at the site, Nuñez said.

"We had to bring a generator in, but the city event planner was there and she took care of it for us with such poise and grace," Nuñez said. "We also ran out of glasses. We had 1,000 of them and more than 1,000 people. But what a great snafu that was to have."

Several brewfestgoers brought their dads to the event, which she was happy to see, Nuñez added.

"For a first effort it went really smooth," she said.-- Sue Vorenberg

Bits 'n' Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you'd like to share, email bits@columbian.com.