As a first generation Italian, I grew up surrounded by food and celebrations. My passion for cooking began when I was a pharmaceutical sales representative in women’s health at the age of twenty-three. With an entertainment budget of $300 to cover 300 physicians, my friend Jose Morales and I decided to cook for our office luncheons. I asked my parents to teach me how to cook, and from that point on, I became fascinated with the healing power of food.
My interest in neuroscience led me to explore diseases that often go unheard of due to a lack of voice from those who suffer from them. I developed a strong passion for individuals with learning disabilities, driven by my cousin’s daughter, Gina, who has autism spectrum disorder. Despite being highly motivated to work, Gina has struggled with gaining acceptance from her peers, and has been bullied. I am proud of her for overcoming her struggles and admire her strength. Finding a job is her next step.
Over the past fifteen years, I have had an interest in addressing the needs of individuals with learning disabilities, but fear held me back. Margate holds a special place in my heart since my husband is a native and our three boys love the shore. When Lucy the Elephant contacted me about the availability of the grille shack to lease, my dream became a reality. Since college, I have always envisioned owning a business where those with learning disabilities could work and feel safe, loved, and supported.
I am pleased to make a public announcement alongside The Other Lucy. I would like to share news about H.O.P.E. (Helping Others Pursue Empowerment), a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering adults with learning disabilities by providing skilled training. H.O.PE. aims to remove labeling and promote inclusivity and accessibility in the workplace. The organization will have two locations, in Margate, New Jersey and Lower Gwynedd, Pennsylvania, offering comprehensive learning experiences with the use of resources. The program will run from September to May and students can apply to attend part-time or full-time. Tuition is free for all students. We are excited to make a difference in the lives of individuals with learning disabilities through H.O.P.E. and look forward to your support.