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.

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri October 31, 2014

Griffin Kerstetter and Annie Yonas, Sewing Quilts For The Homeless

Griffin Kerstetter and Annie Yonas
Credit 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.

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri October 24, 2014

Paul Abernathy, Serving The Hill District With FOCUS

Paul Abernathy
Credit 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.

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

Ian Cummins, Walking Across America For Mental Health Awareness

Ian Cummins
Credit 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.

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

‘Miss Audie’ Hart, Volunteering at the Neighborhood Academy

“Miss Audie” Hart
Credit 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.

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri October 3, 2014

Deirdre Kane and Dora Walmsley, Creating a Community Through Food

Deirdre Kane (left) and Dora Walmsley
Credit 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.

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri September 26, 2014

Ella Horvat, Collecting Shoes For Orphans

Ella Horvat
Credit 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.

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri September 19, 2014

Todd DePastino, Hosting Breakfast For Veterans

Todd DePastino
Credit 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.”

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri September 12, 2014

Harold Hicks, Making Miracles Happen on the Baseball Field

Harold Hicks
Credit 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.

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri September 5, 2014

Erika Strasburg, Dressing as a Princess to Comfort Kids

Erika Strasburg
Credit 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.

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri August 29, 2014

Lyndsey Sickler, Tireless Advocate For The GLBT Community

Lyndsey Sickler
Credit 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.

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri August 22, 2014

Carolyn Hare, Advocating For Those With Autism

Carolyn Hare
Credit 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.   

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri August 15, 2014

Mike Williams, Laboring Out Of Love

Mike Williams
Credit 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.  

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri August 8, 2014

Saleem Ghubril, Making College Possible For Many

Saleem Ghubril
Credit 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.

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri August 1, 2014

Howard Aikens, Beautifying a Neighborhood Garden

Howard Aikens
Credit 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.

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:41 am
Fri July 25, 2014

Dr. Bill Neches, Hosting Heart Camp for Kids

Dr. Bill Neches
Credit 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.  

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri July 18, 2014

Judy Bannon, Providing Cribs For Kids

Judy Bannon
Credit 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.

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri July 11, 2014

Karissa’s Army, Raising Domestic Violence Awareness

Jamie Brown and Alisha Maria King of Karissa’s Army
Credit 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.

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

Joe Lagana, Providing Equal Opportunities For Homeless Children

Joe Lagana
Credit 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.

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri June 27, 2014

How Jeremiah’s Place is Helping Kids in Crisis

Eileen Sharbaugh, Dr. Lynne Williams, Dr. Tammy Murdock (left to right) of Jeremiah's Place.
Credit 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.  

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri June 20, 2014

Jamie Holmes, Making Dreams Come True

Jamie Holmes
Credit 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?   

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri June 13, 2014

Miss Bertie, Miss Mary and Miss Dee, Volunteering No Matter What

Credit 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.  

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri June 6, 2014

Kathleen Hower, Sharing Life-Saving Medical Supplies

Kathleen Hower
Credit 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.  

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri May 30, 2014

Ruth Ann Dailey, Beautifying Her Neighborhood

Ruth Ann Dailey
Credit 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.

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
10:22 am
Fri May 23, 2014

Alan and Diana Williams, Opening Their Home And Their Hearts

Alan and Diana Williams
Credit 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.

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri May 16, 2014

Noah Hertzman, Baking Bread To Feed The Hungry

Noah Hertzman
Credit 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.

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri May 9, 2014

In Helping Refugees, Pitt Students ‘Keep It Real’

The “Keep It Real” program tutors and mentors Somali Bantu refugees throughout the Pittsburgh area.
Credit 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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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri May 2, 2014

Meet Mary Savage, The 'Flower Lady' Of Homewood

Mary Savage
Credit 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.

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
8:03 am
Fri April 25, 2014

Denise Zellous, Helping Other People Excel

Denise Zellous
Credit 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.

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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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