New Kensington's Knead Cafe benefits from grant
When Kevin Bode applied for a grant offered by his employer, Northwestern Mutual, he thought maybe he would be in the running for a small award sometime in the next few years.
Imagine his surprise when he was selected as one of the Most Exceptional recipients of the company's annual Community Service Award and the $25,000 that comes with it.
Bode has been working with Northwestern as a financial planner for 30 years.
Bode also is one half of the couple who own New Kensington's nonprofit pay-what-you-can restaurant, Knead Community Cafe, and he's humbled by his company's recognition of his volunteer efforts.
"It really means a lot to us," he said. "I was told when I applied for this award to put it in this year, but it usually takes a few years to win.
"When they called me and told me that we won and, not only that, but that we took top honors, it was just unbelievable."
Northwestern issued a statement saying they annually honor "the company's financial advisors for their extraordinary volunteer work."
So far this year, the company has donated $300,000 to the nonprofit of the winner's choice, and Bode is one of four people chosen as a Most Exceptional recipient, the company said.
Bode said the award, presented by Northwestern Mutual managing partner Kevin Miller in the form of a comically large check, will help cover the cost of Knead's mission of bringing high quality food to people who don't have the means to pay for it.
"Every year, we have to raise money to help pay for those who can't pay for their meals, so it typically comes out to about 30 percent of our budget," he said. "This check is going to go a long way in helping with that. It really means a lot."
The cafe, located at 1011 Barnes St., just celebrated its first full year in business. Bode said that plans for cafe's future include expansion into an adjacent courtyard for outdoor seating.
Mary Bode, Kevin's wife and the other half of the partnership, said the work the cafe does wouldn't be possible without the small army of volunteers who staff the restaurant without pay.
Mayor Tom Guzzo said the award reflects the work Kevin Bode has been doing to improve New Kensington and that his efforts show the caliber of person Bode is.
"It's a very well deserved award and (Bode) has been doing great things here in New Kensington," Guzzo said.
Matthew Medsger is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4675, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @matthew_medsger.