Know an 'Unsung Hero?' Nominate them for 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference

Credit Photo from remakelearning.org

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 will honor 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.

Do you know someone we should profile? Read our guidelines below and fill out our short form here.

90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference Criteria

90.5 WESA People Profile is awarded to a handful of distinguished residents in our PA listening area who meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • The nominee shares their time, talent and dedication to people of our community selflessly. 
  • They exemplify action dedicated to the Western PA tradition of hard work, being a good neighbor and commitment to community service.
  • They embrace the spirit of philanthropy by showing a remarkable commitment in their personal and/or professional lives to improving quality of life across Western PA.
  • Nominees must live in one of the counties of our PA listening area outlined below. The nominator may be from anywhere.

If you do not have access to Google forms, you may email celebrates@wesa.fm. Please nominate a person and not an organization.  They may work with an established organization or perhaps be starting or running their own, but the feature is honoring the person behind the neighborly deed.  

You may nominate more than one person, but please do so in separate forms UNLESS they are working on the same project sharing the duties.

There is no age limit.

Nomination is not a guarantee of a being featured or profiled in this series.

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 Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri April 11, 2014

Fred Massey, Changing Lives Of Troubled Youths

Fred Massey
Credit 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.

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri April 4, 2014

Joyce Rothermel, Following a Calling to Feed the Hungry

Joyce Rothermel
Credit 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.

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri March 28, 2014

How Jim and Susan Wagner Are Training Dogs For The ‘Perfect Fit’

The Wagners have placed 15 dogs in the past two years and have many in training. The puppy raisers who take on these dogs gather once a month for a training class.
Credit 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.

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Al Mercer, Helping Vets Bridge The Gap To Civilian Life

Al Mercer
Credit 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.

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri March 14, 2014

No Stranger to Tragedy, Lueana Coward Helps Others Cope With Grief

Lueana Coward
Credit 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.

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri March 7, 2014

How Dr. Jim Withers Takes Medical Care to Pittsburgh's Homeless

Dr. Jim Withers makes his rounds.
Credit 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.”

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri February 28, 2014

Bob and Marilee Tudi, The ‘One Day Miracle’ Makers

Bob and Marilee Tudi
Credit 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.

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
7:36 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Ray Leonard, Showing Compassion When Cancer Strikes

Ray Leonard
Credit 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.

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri February 14, 2014

Josh and Gab, Confronting Bullying Through Song

Josh Verbanets and Gab Bonesso
Credit 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.

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
7:47 am
Fri February 7, 2014

Sophie Levitt, Making a Difference Through Technology

Sophie Levitt

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.

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
7:21 am
Fri January 24, 2014

How Emmai Alaquiva Is Giving Back Through Music

Emmai Alaquiva
Credit 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.

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Do Something: How Ethan Woodfill Found a Way to Help His Community

Ethan Woodfill
Credit 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.

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri January 10, 2014

How Al Condeluci Became an Advocate for the Disabled

Al Condeluci
Credit 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.

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
11:49 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

How Vanessa German Is Creating a Safe Haven Through Art

Credit 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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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri December 27, 2013

At the Allegheny County Jail, Caitlin Werth Provides HOPE

Caitlin Werth

Read and listen to a story about Caitlin Werth 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.

Caitlin is the chaplain and program director of the rehabilitative program HOPE at the Allegheny County Jail. The program helps inmates stay out of jail once they’ve done their time.

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
8:35 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Small Child, Big Heart: How Matthew Jacko Found Comfort and Shared It

Matthew Jacko with his sister Jocelyn
Credit Debbi Casini Klein

Listen to Matthew's story 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.

Matthew Jacko was your typical 7-year-old, going to school, playing baseball, living life, until one day about a year and half ago, he and his family received the devastating news: Matthew had an inoperable brain tumor.

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
11:58 am
Fri December 13, 2013

Meet Randy Gilson, The Neighborhood Renovator

Randy Gilson
Credit Louis D’Aria

If you’re strolling down Arch Avenue on the North Side, you’d be hard-pressed to miss it: a whimsical building with a 40-ft high mural of brilliant butterflies, ladybugs, dinosaurs and more.

It’s Randyland, and it all started a little more than 30 years ago when Randy Gilson moved into the neighborhood.

Read more and watch a video about Randy 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.

Special Series
1:28 am
Fri December 6, 2013

90.5 WESA Celebrates: Barbara Sappie, The Blanket Lady

Barbara Sappie
Credit Louis D’Aria

Barbara Sappie has been making blankets and coordinating volunteers with Project Linus, distributing thousands of blankets all over Western Pennsylvania. They call her The Blanket Lady, and she is responsible for bringing joy and comfort to traumatized children in hospitals and shelters.

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