New York Road Runners Mindful 5K runner overcomes homelessness, addiction to open popular NYC bakery

Michelle Charlesworth Image
Friday, May 3, 2024
5K runner overcomes homelessness, addiction to open popular NYC bakery
Michelle Charlesworth has the profile on Jamie Deegan.

UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- The New York Road Runners Mindful 5K is this Saturday, and for one of the participants, the feeling will be all too sweet from the long road she's traveled up to this point.

Janie Deegan, 36, will be running in the event after having overcome some very dark times before ultimately becoming a successful business owner.

"I got sober at 25," said Deegan. "And from age 24 to 25, I was homeless and penniless. I had no home, no ID. I didn't have a bank account."

Deegan turned to baking and running to get her life on track and heal herself mentally.

"When I got sober, I could not run," she said. "I was so unhealthy and couldn't run. I was smoking one million cigarettes a day, drinking coffee and so skinny. But baking for me was this meditative act of self-care."

Deegan took her new positive mindset and put every dollar she made into investing in her business, despite no fancy experience in baking or in restaurants or small business loans.

She also found a place to live and worked as a building superintendent for free rent.

Not long after that, Janie's Life-Changing Baked Goods was born in 2015. Now there are three locations in Manahttan.

"Find that one thing one thing that pushes you to self love - for me it was baking or running," added Deegan. "Whatever it is find that thing and grab onto that!"

Through her bakery, Deegan also provides second-chance employment, teaches baking classes to underprivileged youth in East Harlem, and donates time and baked goods to local community centers and homeless shelters.

"At the end of the day, we are selling cookies," said Deegan. "If we are not joyful what is the point?"

The NYRR Mindful 5K takes place in Queens on May 4 as Mental Health Awareness Month gets underway. More than 5,000 adults and hundreds of kids from around the five boroughs are expected to participate in the event.


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