90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making A Difference

Western Pennsylvania has a strong tradition of neighborhood, personal and community commitment. Our pride in pulling together goes far beyond supporting our deep-rooted sports teams. 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference honors the individuals that are making a difference in people's lives on the ground level and reminding us we are all truly a part of each other's lives.

This special series, supported by UPMC, will highlight, honor and celebrate Western Pennsylvanians who are unsung heroes daring to make a difference to others in our community.

90.5 WESA PA listening area counties:
Allegheny, Beaver, Washington, Westmoreland, Butler, Armstrong, Cambria, Somerset, Bedford, Fayette, Indiana

This project is made possible by a generous contribution from UPMC.

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.  

Louis D’Aria / 90.5 WESA

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

Four decades ago, then 40-year-old Mary was working as the community relations director at the Carnegie Library in Homewood when she noticed a safety hazard across the street.

Denise Zellous, Helping Other People Excel

Apr 25, 2014
Debbi Casini Klein

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

Molested when she was 8 years old, Denise turned to drugs and promiscuity at a very young age.

Debbi Casini Klein / 90.5 WESA

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

Fred Massey created a mentoring program that not only changed the lives of so many troubled youths, but also changed his life.

Debbi Casini Klein / 90.5 WESA

Read and listen to a story about Joyce Rothermel 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 study that was done in 1977 at the University of Pittsburgh on the instances of hunger in Allegheny County documented 48,000 people experiencing hunger — that is, going without food for a 24-hour period.

Marina Weis / 90.5 WESA

Read and watch a story about Jim and Susan Wagner as part of a series honoring the individuals who make a difference in people’s lives: 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference.

Jim and Susan have turned their love for dogs into helping children with autism.

Debbi Casini Klein / 90.5 WESA

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

As a veteran, the transition back to civilian life is wrought with challenges. Al understands that all too well and has made it his mission to help.

Debbi Casini Klein

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

Lueana has faced tragedies unfathomable to any parent, but she has channeled her pain into helping others in the same situation.

Photo courtesy of Operation Safety Net, Pittsburgh Mercy Health System

Read and listen to a story about Dr. Jim Withers 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 more than 20 years, Withers has been making his rounds in a most unusual way as “The Pittsburgh Street Doctor.”

Marina Weis / 90.5 WESA

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

Imagine living without heat this winter. Sadly, many people do. But thanks to Bob and Marilee of McKees Rocks, the winter is much warmer for many in need.

Debbi Casini Klein

Read and listen to a story about Ray Leonard 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 women going through chemotherapy, many may think that hair loss must be the least of their concerns.

Quite the contrary, it can be one of the most traumatic aspects of chemotherapy: a loss of their identity and a clear reality of their disease.

Josh and Gab, Confronting Bullying Through Song

Feb 14, 2014
Debbi Casini Klein

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

Sometimes there’s no better way to get kids excited about something than through music. Add some laughter, and you’ve got the perfect combination.

That’s the Josh and Gab show.

Read and listen to a story about Sophie Levitt 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 Sophie knew she wanted to do a bat-mitzvah project that would make an impact on children’s lives. Thoughts of her cousin Marla, who is also 11 years old and has autism, sparked an idea.

How Emmai Alaquiva Is Giving Back Through Music

Jan 24, 2014
The Sprout Fund

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

Emmai is an award-winning  music producer and entrepreneur and has parlayed his accomplishments into mentoring kids, through hip hop music.

Debbi Casini Klein

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

Fourteen-year-old Ethan Woodfill recruited friends and classmates to form the Do-Something Club to help better his community.

Debbi Casini Klein

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

Al has been instrumental in changing the lives of thousands of disabled people in the Pittsburgh area. His awareness and dedication started first hand, with his cousin Carrie, who had Down syndrome.

Vanessa German / Facebook.com

Read and watch a video story about Vanessa German as part of a new series honoring the individuals who make a difference in people’s lives: 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference.

Vanessa is an artist and performer, determined to make her neighborhood of Homewood a safer place, especially for the children.

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