We had the good fortune of connecting with Olivia McGuire and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Olivia, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
Everyone deserves a seat at the table. Starting from Scratch provides a critical program that empowers adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) to learn vital skills that immediately transfer to daily life – in the comfortable and familiar environment of the kitchen.
Students develop cooking abilities and practice social interactions; making, sharing and eating food together. Skills focus on safety, hygiene, communication, self-leadership, decision making and planning/execution – daily living skills that apply to situations at home or in the workplace. Students gain access to a community where unique talents and capabilities are valued and celebrated.
Confidence builds and they feel purpose and meaning through day-to-day accomplishments – promoting a feeling of competence and minimizing fear and anxiety. “This has been one of the most beneficial classes my daughter has participated in. She has not only increased her cooking skills, she has loved the activities in the workbook which requires her to plan, think, write and produce. Thank you for providing this lifelong learning opportunity.” – Kudos from a Starting from Scratch Parent As capabilities increase, possibilities open for participants to realize new potential as thriving and contributing members of the Colorado community; living their best possible lives.
Segregating individuals with Autism or I/DD, erodes everyone. There is such joy and importance of nurturing the talents of these individuals and allowing their magic to shine. There is a subconscious bias in fully embracing inclusion and Starting from Scratch is here to help break that bias.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
“Diversity is a reality, Inclusion is a choice.” Stephen Frost Starting from Scratch believes in inclusion, and it’s an important differentiator because we know that inclusion is about removing the barriers so that individuals can be their true and best selves.
Today we unconsciously create barriers by segregating people based on their value we believe they can bring to our community. Starting from Scratch focuses on this important initiative to break down some of these barriers and strengthen our family’s and our communities. Inclusion is not a parallel process, and I had the opportunity to witness this first hand.
My passion stems from my father, who was diagnosed with Usher’s Syndrome in his late twenties. Usher’s Syndrome is a disease that takes away one’s vision and hearing. My dad is resilient… he is unstoppable. He has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, skydived, paraglided and through his day-to-day life, supports the social context behind cooking. By cooking for large groups of people, community and family members, he remains an example to the importance of togetherness that cooking brings. You can say that I grew up with a passion for people.
My passion specifically led me to support and advocate for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I completed with my studies in Special Education and received a Bachelors and Masters in Special Education with a concentration in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education. As a high school Significant Support Needs Program teacher, I was a strong advocate for inclusion in the school setting, fundamentally changing school curriculums.
Every day I showed up to work, I fought for inclusion in the school and in the classroom; teaching educators that segregation is not the path forward. My passion expanded to support inclusion outside of the school setting and to reach our greater community. When individuals are isolated from their community, school, or place of employment, it can negatively impact the individual; impeding their ability and opportunity to grow. Where the goal may not be full independence for some, it is important that we are opening the window of growth and opportunities to find independence at their best.
Starting from Scratch aspires to make a greater impact on the Colorado community; where we focus on the one individual, knowing that the choice of inclusion lies in those around us and in us. Concluding with a quote from author Stephen Frost – “There is important work to be done…and the clock is ticking.”
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
What is not to love about the beautiful state of Colorado? As a Colorado native, and lover of the winter, I have pulled together a list of all my favorite spots and activities for those adventure lovers out there.
Surrounding Denver Area Morning coffee at Dirt (Littleton)
– whose mission is to bring you quality crafted coffee, food and drink while employing and empowering individuals with autism Scenic drive through Daniels Park (Highlands Ranch) Dinner and drinks at Buffalo Rose (Golden)
– walk around and see the lights by the river Summit County Snowshoe Mayflower Gulch Snowboard at Copper Mountain Ice skate at Keystone
– enjoy delicious pizza after in the Keystone Village Apps, dinner and drinks at Aurum in Breckenridge
– walk main street at night to enjoy the snow and lights Glenwood Iron Mountain Hot Springs Juicy Lucy Steakhouse To all you adventurous souls out there – ENJOY!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
At the end of 2019, Starting from Scratch launched as a nonprofit and project of the Colorado Nonprofit Development Center. Given that there is no manual on how to start a nonprofit during a pandemic, we had a team rally behind our organization in support of our mission. Our fiscal sponsor (the Colorado Nonprofit Development Center), Starting from Scratch board members, a strong group of diverse advisors and supporting community members are the backbone as to where we are today. As a team, we have persevered and have successfully provided a lifelong learning opportunity to 25 students in 2020. That is 25+ students who had the opportunity to experience joy, create new friendships and gain access to a community where unique talents and capabilities are valued and celebrated.