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Former Homeless Addict Opens Bakery And Now She’s Giving Jobs To People In Need.

Janie Deegan

Of the 14 employees at Janie’s Life-Changing Baked Goods, only one has been to culinary school – and it isn’t Janie.

Janie Deegan opened her bakery on the Upper West Side of Manhattan after struggling with addiction and homelessness throughout her 20s. She managed to get sober in 2013, but she said she was in “such a dark place” for years as she tried to figure out her place in the world.

“I was a shell of a person when I got sober and couldn’t even look people in the eye,” she said. “I really had no life skills and no resume. I felt so insecure.”

Remembering how much she enjoyed baking as a child, Janie started baking cookies and pies one day and just never stopped!

“My life was out of control, but baking is so controlled… it was this nice meditative act of self-care,” she continued. “Plus it’s a super people-pleasing thing, bringing baked goods to different people and seeing their whole demeanor change. It just started to fill me with self-esteem, and enabled me to reconnect with people.”

Janie started off slowly, working out of her apartment to build a loyal fan base. In 2017, she found the perfect space for her bakery and Janie’s Life-Changing Baked Goods was born.

These days, she’s known for her incredible cakes and pie crust cookies, and she’s determined to use her success to help others who are struggling to find meaningful employment. When it comes to hiring new staff members at Janie’s, enthusiasm and a willingness to work hard are the only criteria.

“You just have to walk through the door and be ready, willing and able, and excited to show up and work and you’ve got a job,” Janie said. “I was such a good worker because I just wanted it so badly. As soon as I got sober, I was like the best worker that you could find … but again, you can’t put that on a resume. You can’t be like, ‘I’m so excited to be here.'” 

The marvelous baker hopes that some day, she can become a second-chance employer who hires women out of the prison or shelter system. Her story reminds us that real success isn’t always about us – it’s about what we do to help others.

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