Today, America's favorite cook, restaurateur, author and philanthropist, Paula Deen, announced the launch of The Bag Lady Foundation. The Foundation's mission is to provide hope, inspiration and support to women and families in need. The Bag Lady Foundation plans to aid individuals, communities and like-minded organizations to empower those facing a range of challenges resulting from poverty.
The Bag Lady Foundation is a personal passion for Deen, who had the Foundation named after one of the very first businesses she started, during an extremely difficult period in her life. In 1989, after her marriage of 25 years ended in divorce, she was left with only $200 and money was tight raising both her kids and her younger brother, Earl ("Bubba"). She tried hanging wallpaper, working as a bank teller, and selling real estate and insurance. She then started a catering service, making sandwiches and meals, which her sons Jamie and Bobby delivered, and named it "The Bag Lady." Deen's home business soon out grew her kitchen and from there...the "Deen dream" took off.
"I think back on those tough times and remember how hard we worked to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps," said Deen. "It was a difficult time for us, but an experience that made me and my sons stronger. My legacy is to encourage people to reach way down in their souls and find their inner strength to overcome their troubles. That is why I am so excited about The Bag Lady Foundation, which will help those in poverty deal with the challenges they face in their daily lives."
"Dolly Parton, Wolfgang Puck and Mother Theresa - blend them all together and you've almost got Paula Deen," said Ethel Kennedy, Founder, Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. "With her grit, talent and heart of gold, this Goddess of Gravy shows us the way to feed the hungry. Let's help Paula make room at the table for everyone."
Chairing the Foundation is Lucie Salhany, who is a consultant to Paula Deen Enterprises, and who has sat on a number of Corporate Boards, including Hewlett Packard. Joining Lucie on the Foundation Board are Nick Gallegos, a Partner in Paula Deen Foods, and Susan Green, a longtime supporter and friend of Paula and her endeavors. Legal counsel for the Foundation is Andrew Morton of law firm Handler Thayer, LLP. Andrew has a specific specialty in overseeing charitable foundations connected to celebrated public figures.
The Foundation, still in its infancy stages, plans to raise money from a variety of financial resources, including a percentage of the net proceeds from Paula Deen Foods. The Bag Lady Foundation will also be accepting public and private donations which can be made directly on The Bag Lady Foundation website (http://bagladyfoundation.org/). To date, the Foundation has received financial commitments from Meyer Inc. and the FOX Network show "Master Chef."
Deen is well known for her Southern Cooking passion, having sold more than 8,000,000 of her 14 cookbooks and received an Emmy Award nomination for her work as host of "Paula's Best Dishes." Deen's landmark restaurant, The Lady & Sons, based in Savannah, Georgia, has been launch pad for an expanding restaurant empire in partnership with Caesars Entertainment, having recently launched her fourth restaurant, Paula Deen's Kitchen at Harrah's Joliet property. In addition to her food products, Deen has a highly successful line of Paula Deen Cookware found at leading retailers, as well as Paula Deen Home, which features furniture and other products.
Deen's family continues to be connected to her work; her son Bobby's show "Not My Mama's Meals" is a hit on Cooking Channel and next month her son Jamie will launch his new show "Home for Dinner with Jamie Deen" on Food Network.
For more information on The Bag Lady Foundation or to learn how to donate, visit: http://bagladyfoundation.org/.
Paula Deen, The Bag Lady Foundation, Inc. ("TBLF") is a New York not-for-profit corporation established to provide a legacy for Paula Deen's philanthropic work to provide hope, inspiration and support to transform the lives of communities and organizations in need. While awaiting IRS review of its request for recognition of independent 501(c)(3) status, TBLF is operating through a fiscal sponsorship with Edward Charles Foundation, Inc. (Federal Tax ID: 26-4245043), a California not-for-profit public benefit corporation with IRS recognition of federal tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3). Contributions made to TBLF are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law. Please consult your tax advisor for specific advice on tax deductibility of charitable contributions.