(BEDFORD) - Janice Nickeo, founder of Bedford's Bertha's Mission, was honored with the Community Service Award during the Bedford Chamber of Commerce annual dinner Thursday night.
The mission which offers free meals is located at Fifth and J streets, is named for her late mother Bertha Sterling.
Meals are offered on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. And earlier this month, Bertha's Mission opened a second location in Mitchell.
"Both my mom and dad were the former owners of Chuck's Soulfood for 12 years, where I, many family members and friends worked," Janice says.
After the passing of her parents the latest being Bertha on November 10, 2012.
"I had to figure out what to do with the family restaurant, and through prayer God spoke mission," she added. "This was a big question mark for me, because at the time my daughter and I were students at Indiana University Purdue University in Indianapolis, and I had recently returned from studying abroad in China and London over the summer; envisioning pursuing my enrollment into the Master's Program at either Indiana University Purdue University or Indiana University Bloomington, somewhere all I planned on was continuing my education."
Janice's daughter Patshawna was entering her junior year in the School of Social Work and life was great.
"I was focused on my child and myself and let me not forget my sister Johanna all of our lives changed," she added. "Never did I think or consider that I was going to lose my mother, my sister, my pillar, my advisor, my all and all. So when I did, I was angry, hurt, lost, confused, and alone, my world was rocked, I felt like the rug of life had been pulled from my feet. How could he take the very people who did this mission for 12 years?"
So Janice prayed.
"Again there was the mention of mission and from there he started connecting the pieces for me," she added. "I promised God that if a mission was what he wanted then it was up to him to provide the resources, connections, financial support and most of all knowledge."
Bertha's Mission became a reality when they served their first meal on September 17, 2013.
"Our motto is Matthew 25:35-36 and taking great pride in that we promise the community that we will not serve what we will not eat, we will treat you with dignity and respect, pray with you and for you, treat you like family," Janice says.
According to Chamber President Jamie Medlock, those that nominated Nickeo described her as "tireless" and "remarkable."
The annual beautification award went to In-Fab Inc., a fabricated structural metal company at 2030 John Williams Boulevard. Medlock says the company has done tremendous improvements to the building and ground.
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