The local nonprofit works with kids who identify as LGBTQIA. | Courtesy of Louisville Youth Group
The local nonprofit works with kids who identify as LGBTQIA. | Courtesy of Louisville Youth Group

Renowned Louisville chef Edward Lee plans to donate more than a month’s worth of profits from his two restaurants to a local LGBT group.

Lee made the announcement on Facebook that he will give all the profits from Milkwood and 610 Magnolia during the next 49 days to Louisville Youth Group, a nonprofit that serves LGBT youth ages 14 through 20 in Louisville and Southern Indiana. It serves about 40 kids each week.

The donation was prompted by the attack at a gay club in Orlando, Fla. where a gunman killed 49 people — each day of giving represents one victim. Lee called the tragedy an attack on “an LGBT community, a Latino community, a human community.”

“Like many, I want to help but I do not know what to do,” Lee wrote in his post. “What I do know is that there are factions on the other side of the fence that will profit from this massacre. That is both illogical and profane. I want to balance the scales even if just a little.”

Louisville Youth Group responded with its own Facebook post thanking Lee and Louisville artist and social entrepreneur Theo Edmonds, who, according to the post, recommended the organization to Lee when he was looking for a group to donate to.

“It is because of this wonderful community we are able to provide a safe, empowering, inclusive, and free resource to LGBTQAI+ youth in Kentuckiana. The youth, mentors, board, and staff of LYG are humbled, blessed, and grateful today,” the post states.

Anna Giangrande, program director at LYG, told Insider Louisville that Lee reached out to her on Tuesday about his plans to donate his restaurant profits.

“With everything going on, he felt like it was important to put his money where his mouth is,” Giangrande said. “I was dumbfounded. I didn’t know what to say.”

Lee guessed that the profits for the 49 days would amount to anywhere from $4,000 to $8,000.

“Any donation is never a small donation. This is really huge for us,” Giangrande said. “I was never expecting anything like this.”

The nonprofit also receives funding from Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government and has received grants from the United Parcel Service.

The money will allow LYG to book its annual camp trip in October, which costs an estimated $3,200 for 30 kids plus mentors. It may also help the nonprofit replace the carpet at its center on Broadway, get new computers or enhance its program, she said.

“Because of him, there are already things I can guarantee for our kids this year. That’s an amazing thing,” Giangrande said. “It’s beautiful.”

In addition of donations, LYG is always looking for mentors and board members, Giangrande said. She encouraged people to march with the group this Friday night in the city’s Pride Parade and to take a cue from Lee.

“He decided that he wanted to do something in his community to make a positive change and a positive difference,” she said. “I really hope people support him through going to his restaurants and follow in his footsteps.”

Here is Lee’s full Facebook message:

The tragedy in Orlando was an attack on an LGBT community, a Latino community, a human community. It strikes at the core of our sense of safety, of belonging and the idea that a community should be sacred. My feelings of anger, exhaustion, fear and outrage are only outweighed by my helplessness. Like many, I want to help but I do not know what to do. What I do know is that there are factions on the other side of the fence that will profit from this massacre. That is both illogical and profane. I want to balance the scales even if just a little.

49 is a large number, it is incomprehensible when you imagine that number, not as a digit, but as people. 49 people would fill my restaurant. 49 people can change the world. For the next 49 days, I will be donating daily profits from my restaurants to support the LGBT community. I know that there are LGBT youth in my community of Louisville right now that are scared, that are ignored, that may feel that they do not belong. And they are in every community. Let’s give them our support in this time of healing and condolences. 49 days is not a long time. But it is a start.

Louisville Youth Group focuses specifically on LGBT youth to give them a safe place to grow and express themselves. They are a non-profit organization that relies on donations to fund their programs. They offer their services to the LGBT youth of our community for free.

Thank you Theo Alan Edmonds, MilkWood, 610 Magnolia

Caitlin Bowling
Louisville native Caitlin Bowling has covered the local restaurant and retail scene since 2014. After graduating from the Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, Caitlin got her start at a newspaper in the mountains of North Carolina where she won multiple state awards for her reporting. Since returning to Louisville, she’s written for Business First and Insider Louisville, winning awards for health and business reporting and becoming a go-to source for business news. In addition to restaurants and retail business, Caitlin covers real estate, economic development and tourism. Email Caitlin at [email protected]