She saved my life with cupcakes… AND she gives back to the community!

The My Little Flower cupcake, available through May.

The My Little Flower cupcake, available through May.

I don’t want to get into the endorsement business, but I have to share a story about a great experience I had with a local small business: Hill Country Cupcake.

In early February, my son Sam, 5,  volunteered with me at Marathon Kids. He woke up way too early for a Saturday morning so that we could get to the Burger Center, and in the strong winds and light drizzle, he helped me hand out medals and cheer the bigger kids on.  Afterwards, I had to hustle him to a playdate, but before that, as a treat, we walked to the Sunset Valley Farmer’s Market in the Burger Center parking lot, and I bought him four of the loveliest cupcakes we’d ever seen. A couple were vegetarian and vegan (Hill Country Cupcakes make plain old regular non-veg cupcakes, too), which worked out great because the little brother of his playdate was allergic to eggs. So that was our volunteering/cupcake story for the week…

But then…

The next week, I wanted to celebrate my daughter’s  1-year-old birthday at her daycare with her friends. So my first thought is, of course, cupcakes. But the teachers in her class informed me that morning that one of the babies is a vegan. “Is this his personal choice?” I ask. “I mean, has the infant been given the opportunity to taste butter?”

Who am I to judge? Except now I need six vegan cupcakes by that afternoon. I like baking and all, but I don’t even know where to begin with a vegan cupcake. Then I remember: Those cupcakes in the parking lot…

After a little Googling, I find her: Hill Country Cupcake. She delivers the cupcakes just in time for the baby girl’s party, babies are stuffing their tiny little mouths with frosting and strawberries and cake… everyone’s happy.

I go ahead and gush to this woman, Katie Bycura, that she is a cupcake angel. I come to find out that, of course, she actually is an angel, having donated cupcakes or proceeds from cupcakes to a few really great causes.

“I know I’m a young business, and donating my time and cupcakes at this point is often a much larger cost than most in my position would take on, but Austin’s women, animal rescue, education, and health care causes are very much important to me,” she says. “I am truly a blessed person and I am passionate about trying to do good for others not so fortunate.  Do what you love, love what you do.”

Here’s what Katie told me about the causes and projects she’s supported through her cupcakes.

1) Girls on the Run, an organization that caters to encouraging healthy behaviors (like exercise and smart food choices) and self esteem in elementary and middle school girls.  It is a cause especially close to my heart, as my older sister is on the board and an assistant running coach.  The girls are wonderful and I’ve served as a substitute assistant coach several times.  The program runs for the length of the semester and culminates in a 5K race the girls complete.  The girls last ran the Jingle Bell 5K – and I donated low fat cupcakes as a special treat after all participants successfully finished the course!  It was wonderful, and I’ll continue to donate cupcakes and volunteer as a sub when I can.
2) Zooma Womens Race Series, a womens-only half marathan and 5K scheduled for April 9, 2009. I will be donating 2500 cupcakes to this event – quite a challenge for my small, one-woman and volunteer help only business! I look forward to it, however, because, like Girls on the Run, it encourages women (young and old) to pursue a confident and healthy lifestyle.
3) Austin Pets Alive, a no-kill rescue group that takes animals off the euthanasia list at local shelters. I helped them with their Sweet Barks Honky Tonk fundraiser this past Valentine’s Day. It was a day-long event at Jo’s on S. Congress – I sold my cupcakes, and all proceeds went directly back to the cause.  The event raised a total of over $1,200 that day! 

4) Eanes Education Foundation, which helps fund additional educational opportunities for Eanes schools. As I grew up in Westlake, I know a lot of who I am today stems from the great education I received. I donated cupcakes to their annual silent auction and gala event this past February – it was a great success. Last year the EEF granted $995,000 to various causes, like more teacher positions and foreign language opportunities in grade schools throughout the district.
5) The Seton Fund, aimed at helping fund medical care at the area’s Seton hospitals. I’ve donated cupcakes to their silent auction fundraiser scheduled for this spring. As someone with a nursing and health care background, I realize the inadequacies of our national health care system. Our local health care system is no different. I became a volunteer at Sweet Charity, Seton’s volunteer-run gift shop at 26 Doors shopping center.  All proceeds from the shop go the Seton Fund.  Ever since learning about this cause, I have wanted to contribute however I can.
See? Isn’t she an angel? Sure, you could buy your cupcakes at HEB and call it good. But when you buy cupcakes from Hill Country Cupcakes, you’re not just supporting a local businesswoman, you’re helping her support our community.

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