WASHINGTON — From their Etsy shop and baking business to supporting the LGBTQ+ community, this 19-year-old has created an impactful ripple effect in a short time.
Maggie Cappiello, who is currently a part-time resident of Washington City, came out as non-binary when they were 17 around the time COVID-19 quarantines started to become part of daily life.
“I wouldn’t have had that courage to show up for myself let alone anyone else without quarantine, so that’s one good thing I took away from that,” Cappiello said.
At the time, they talked with their parents about the lack of support for the LGBTQ+ community at their high school in Powell, Wyoming. The staff and students had never heard of the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA), an organization that offers a safe place with open dialogue for the LGBTQ+ community.
According to the GSA website, clubs are student-ran, typically in a high school or middle school, and provide a safe place for students to meet and talk about issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, with a goal to end homophobia and transphobia.
“I wanted everyone to have that safe place like I had at home,” Cappiello said. “I’m so thankful to have parents, siblings and friends who supported me. But many of my friends that were gay or transgender didn’t have that. They had to go home and make themselves small. I didn’t want anyone to feel like that.”
As a senior in high school with the intention to do something meaningful before they graduated, Cappiello said they got together with a friend and started their own GSA. Alongside their dad as a co-adviser and the band teacher, they worked with the school administrators to get the ball rolling.
“We fought tooth and nail to make sure that the kids have a safe place to go. Now there’s not only a GSA at the high school that’s flourishing but one in the middle school. It had this ripple effect,” Cappiello said.
Cappiello said they spent so much time in the dark not being themselves that becoming an active part of the LGBTQ+ community has been liberating. Becoming an advocate for others who may not have a voice is a mission they care deeply about.
Along with activism, Cappiello is a creative person with many artistic talents. Inspired by knit finger puppets they had when they were age 9, they learned how to knit from a family friend and went on to learn crochet from YouTube videos.
Cappiello started with knit hats, socks, scarves and purses, and they even added small animals to the list of handmade items.
“On a whim, I made my Etsy shop, and it just grew. I took suggestions from others and created all my own patterns. I just took it and ran with it,” Cappiello said.
As Cappiello’s business, Mag’s Craft Cabin, grew, they decided to take the online shop to the next level by donating to a cause that means a lot to them.
“I really wanted to do something with this, as cheesy as it sounds,” Cappiello said. “My dad always says, ‘Make your corner of the world a little better,’ and I wanted to do that.”
Cappiello is a supporter of the Trevor Project, an organization that helps youth in the LGBTQ+ community in need through a crisis hotline that is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and is 100% confidential and free.
According to its website, the Trevor Project is the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning youth.
“Sometimes different suicide hotlines aren’t as inclusive. It’s self-started, and I’ve been following them for a while. I just really wanted to do something to support them,” Cappiello said.
Cappiello began by making pride-themed crocheted caps for Pride month and went on to donate 50% of all proceeds from their Etsy shop to the Trevor Project that month.
“People really came through, people I knew and people I didn’t. They either donated right to the Trevor Project or bought things for their friends and family,” Cappiello said.
Along with their handmade items on Etsy, Cappiello has been heavily involved in culinary arts. At age 15, their teacher signed them up for a SkillsUSA commercial baking competition. Cappiello won the state contest and competed in nationals in 2019 and 2021 (there was no competition in 2020 due to COVID-19). They sold their baked goods to fellow classmates, known for their cakes, tarts, cookies and muffins, along with taking special requests.
“It’s something that I not only do to relax, but making things is a really big way that I show people I care and that I love them,” Cappiello said.
Cappiello lives in Washington City in the summer and will soon return to Michigan State University as a STARR Scholar, a merit-based award that covers all expenses for four years. With a major in nutrition and a concentration in global health, they plan to keep the Etsy shop open and bake frequently.
Cappiello would love to become more active in the St. George LGBTQ+ community and said there is “never not a need,” especially in conservative areas.
They plan to continue educating others about the Pride community while offering a safe place for those in need.
“It’s a lack of education. That’s where others’ fear comes from,” Cappiello said. “I just want to help others the way my support system has helped me.”
Ed. note: Maggie Cappiello is the child of a St. George News employee.
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