Pieces together

By on February 25, 2011

Photo: Cortland resident Alma Counihan stands behind a display case full of her hand-crafted jewelry items. Counihan launched a new line of her jewelry, the Hummingbird Collection, in support of Austin Cole, a 5-year-old child with autism whose family is seeking financial support to help defray continuing medical costs of treatment. Courtesy Photo

Cortland jeweler creates line to help family in need
by David Maas
Cortland—Alma Counihan, a local jeweler of the Hummingbird Collection, has been selling custom bridal jewelry for years. After meeting a child in need, she decided to expand her business to offer her help.

“After years of collecting precious gemstones, and just staring at them,” the Cortland resident said. “I had the idea that maybe it’s time to do something with them.”

Counihan was then hired on by a jewelry company to learn the basics, and then worked along side Master Jewelers.

“I learned a lot,” Counihan said, “When my son, Terry, and his fiance called me and asked if I’d make their bridal jewelry, I decided to make a business out of it.”

For three years, Counihan continued to make and sell bridal jewelry, but that all changed when she met Austin Cole.

“I met Austin, an adorable little 5-year-old boy with Autism,” Counihan said.

Counihan met Austin and his father, Dave Campos, through her neighbors. Later, she found out that Campos had received a letter stating that his company’s insurance would no longer be paying for Austin’s therapy, just six months into the benefit year.

“The little guy just melted my heart,” said Counihan, “I thought there had to be something I could do to help. I’ve made donations in the past to other causes, but I never really knew what became of it.”

Counihan decided to use her talents of making jewelry to help raise money for Austin.

“After doing some research, I found that the symbols for Autism Awareness are puzzle pieces,” said Counihan, “It was at that second I decided, we can put the pieces together one child at a time, one friend at a time.”

She then designed a series of bracelets that feature a puzzle piece to help raise awareness.

“My goal is to add more children in time,” said Counihan, “But for now, we have to keep Austin in school. Without the proper schooling, he will suffer a major setback.”

The bracelets are being sold for $15 to $30, with 100 percent of the net proceeds going to the Austin Cole Fund.

Counihan is also giving a bride-to-be the chance to win four pairs of custom bridal earrings for bridesmaids at the upcoming Bandaroke: Singing for Austin Charity Event at America’s Historic Roundhouse in Aurora on March 9.

“It’s karaoke with a live band,” said Counihan, “There will be many more items raffled off as well, including a dinner cruise and spa package.”

The bracelets are available for purchase at www.AustinCole.org, along with information about Austin and upcoming fundraisers.