90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

About 80 percent of the work done at Pittsburgh’s senior center on the South Side is done by volunteers. And lately, much of it has been done by one man: Charlie Mathews.

“To have Charlie here as a person that is just willing to help and is really good with people is very crucial to what we do,” said Sarah Johnston, director of the South Side Market House.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 FM WESA

There are about 150,000 men and women serving in the U.S. military overseas, according to the Defense Manpower Data Center. 

Some of them regularly receive care packages from people they have never met, through programs like Soldiers’ Angels and Chaplains Wings.

Mary Jo Magoc has been sending care packages and cards through those programs since 2009.  She began with individual soldiers through Soldiers’ Angels, where she “adopted” four members of the military deployed overseas. She keeps in touch with three of them, even though they have returned home. Among them is Chris Samuel. 

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Every other Monday night, the basement of the Jefferson Avenue Methodist Church in Washington, Pa. is turned into a soup kitchen and a doctor's office. It’s called the “WeCare Street Outreach,” and it's run by Dr. Monica Speicher.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

When 20-year-old Sage Capozzi died from a heroin overdose in 2012 his father, Carmen Capozzi, said he lay on the floor for two days until he heard his son’s voice say, “Dad get up. They’re not bad kids. You have to help.”

A few days later, one of Sage’s friends came to Capozzi’s house to show Carmen a Facebook page created as a memorial to Sage. That page lead to the creation of the Sage’s Army page.

“There were 1,800 people signed up in 24 hours, asking me for help or telling me their situation,” said Capozzi. “My wife said to me, ‘What are you going to do?’ I said, ‘I don’t know. I’m just going to talk.’ And that’s what we did, we just talked.”

Debbi Casini Klein / 90.5 WESA

Read and listen to a story about Annie Yonas and Griffin Kerstetter as part of a series honoring the individuals who make a difference in people’s lives: 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference.

Three years ago, when Annie and Griffin  were in second grade, they decided they wanted to do something to help the homeless stay warm in the winter.

Debbi Casini Klein / 90.5 WESA

Read and listen to a story about Paul Abernathy as part of a series honoring the individuals who make a difference in people’s lives: 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference.

What looks like an ordinary thrift shop on Centre Avenue in the Hill District is so much more. It’s called FOCUS, the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve.

Debbi Casini Klein / 90.5 WESA

Read and listen to a story about Ian Cummins as part of a series honoring the individuals who make a difference in people’s lives: 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference.

Debbi Casini Klein / 90.5 WESA

Read and listen to a story about “Miss Audie” Hart as part of a series honoring the individuals who make a difference in people’s lives: 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference.

Debbi Casini Klein / 90.5 WESA

Read and listen to a story about Deirdre Kane and Dora Walmsley as part of a series honoring the individuals who make a difference in people’s lives: 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference.

Deirdre Kane lived in Galway, where big grocery stores were scarce.

Ella Horvat, Collecting Shoes For Orphans

Sep 26, 2014
Debbi Casini Klein / 90.5 WESA

Read and listen to a story about Ella Horvat as part of a series honoring the individuals who make a difference in people’s lives: 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference.

Eleven-year old Ella Horvat is a sixth grader at Dorseyville Middle School. She was born in Guatemala and was adopted by her American parents, Jill and Michael, at the age of two.

Debbi Casini Klein / 90.5 WESA

Read and listen to a story about Todd DePastino as part of a series honoring the individuals who make a difference in people’s lives: 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference.

“Nobody else really knows and understands what this kind of thing means to the veterans that come to it.”

Debbi Casini Klein / 90.5 WESA

Read and listen to a story about Harold Hicks as part of a series honoring the individuals who make a difference in people’s lives: 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference.

It’s called The Miracle Field of Murrysville: a special baseball field constructed for anyone age 10 and older with any physical or mental challenges.

Debbi Casini Klein / 90.5 WESA

Read and listen to a story about Erika Strasburg as part of a series honoring the individuals who make a difference in people’s lives: 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference.

Erika, a singer/actress and graduate from CMU drama school, has used her talent to comfort the children at Children’s Hospital, where she volunteers every week to go room to room dressed as a princess.

Debbi Casini Klein / 90.5 WESA

Read and listen to a story about Lyndsey Sickler as part of a series honoring the individuals who make a difference in people’s lives: 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference.

Since she came out almost 20 years ago, Lyndsey Sickler has become a tireless advocate for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals.

Carolyn Hare, Advocating For Those With Autism

Aug 22, 2014
Debbi Casini Klein / 90.5 WESA

Read and listen to a story about Carolyn Hare as part of a series honoring the individuals who make a difference in people’s lives: 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference.

Carolyn Hare has been an advocate for those with autism for more than 20 years, but she never realized how providing a creative outlet could have such an impact on their lives.   

Mike Williams, Laboring Out Of Love

Aug 15, 2014
Debbi Casini Klein / 90.5 WESA

Read and listen to a story about Mike Williams as part of a series honoring the individuals who make a difference in people’s lives: 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference.

Thirty-year old landscaper Mike Williams had been helping Sally, an elderly woman, with the landscaping of her house and noticed the inside was in shambles.  

90.5 WESA

Read and listen to a story about Saleem Ghubril as part of a series honoring the individuals who make a difference in people’s lives: 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference.

Vanessa Thompson had dreams of going to college but thought it was financially impossible, until she heard Saleem speak at Westinghouse High School about the Pittsburgh Promise.

Debbi Casini Klein / 90.5 WESA

Read and listen to a story about Howard Aikens as part of a series honoring the individuals who make a difference in people’s lives: 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference.

A few years ago, Howard Aikens decided he had to do something about the huge, dilapidated garden surrounding Sterret School that was such an eyesore in his Point Breeze neighborhood.

Dr. Bill Neches, Hosting Heart Camp for Kids

Jul 25, 2014
Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Read and listen to a story about Dr. Bill Neches and the Heart Camp for Kids as part of a series honoring the individuals who make a difference in people’s lives: 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference.

For one special week, Camp Kon-o-Kwee is taken over by a group of very excited campers.  

Judy Bannon, Providing Cribs For Kids

Jul 18, 2014
Debbi Casini Klein / 90.5 WESA

Read and listen to a story about Judy Bannon as part of a series honoring the individuals who make a difference in people’s lives: 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference.

In 1992, research revealed that sleeping babies should be put on their backs instead of their stomachs. That discovery lead to a 50 percent drop in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS.

Debbi Casini Klein / 90.5 WESA

Read and listen to a story about Karissa’s Army as part of a series honoring the individuals who make a difference in people’s lives: 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference.

Karissa Kunco was a cheerful, optimistic 21-year old with many friends, a close family and dreams of someday being a pharmacist.

Debbi Casini Klein / 90.5 WESA

Read and listen to a story about Joe Lagana as part of a series honoring the individuals who make a difference in people’s lives: 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference.

While many look to retirement as a time to relax, golf or travel, Joe had other plans.

Debbi Casini Klein / 90.5 WESA

Read and listen to a story about Jeremiah’s Place as part of a series honoring the individuals who make a difference in people’s lives: 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference.

It’s called Jeremiah’s Place, a crisis nursery where children from birth up to age six can go for a few days while their family is dealing with a crisis of any kind.  

Jamie Holmes, Making Dreams Come True

Jun 20, 2014
Debbi Casini Klein / 90.5 WESA

Read and listen to a story about Jamie Holmes as part of a series honoring the individuals who make a difference in people’s lives: 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference.

Can you imagine spending your entire life in and out of hospitals, having to go through 45 major operations by the time you’re only 26 years old?   

Debbi Casini Klein / 90.5 WESA

Read and listen to a story about Miss Bertie, Miss Mary and Miss Dee as part of a series honoring the individuals who make a difference in people’s lives: 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference.

They may all be 80-something, but Miss Bertie, Miss Mary and Miss Dee certainly are not resting on their laurels.  

Courtesy photo

Read and listen to a story about Kathleen Hower as part of a series honoring the individuals who make a difference in people’s lives: 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference.

It was an idea Kathleen and two friends had more than 25 years ago: to gather perfectly viable medical supplies that were no longer needed or used, and get them to hospitals that were in dire need of them, here in Pittsburgh and internationally.  

Ruth Ann Dailey, Beautifying Her Neighborhood

May 30, 2014
Debbi Casini Klein / 90.5 WESA

Read and listen to a story about Ruth Ann Dailey as part of a series honoring the individuals who make a difference in people’s lives: 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference.

Up until about five years ago, East Deuschtown was peppered with vacant lots, dilapidated houses and was a haven for drug dealers.

Debbi Casini Klein / 90.5 WESA

Read and listen to a story about Alan and Diana Williams as part of a series honoring the individuals who make a difference in people’s lives: 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference.

For almost 40 years, Alan and his wife Diana have been opening their hearts and their loving home to almost 40 foster children.

Debbi Casini Klein / 90.5 WESA

Read and listen to a story about Noah Hertzman as part of a series honoring the individuals who make a difference in people’s lives: 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference.

Back when he was six years old, when most kids his age could not comprehend the meaning of food insecurity, Noah understood exactly what that meant.

Debbi Casini Klein / 90.5 WESA

Read and listen to a story about the "Keep It Real" program as part of a series honoring the individuals who make a difference in people’s lives: 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference.

With all the pressures that students have in college these days — hard course loads, maintaining good grades and even finding time for fun, you would think they would have little time for anything else.  

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