Archive

ShareThis Page
Former WTAE anchor Wendy Bell spreading the news to make people smile again | TribLIVE.com
More A&E

Former WTAE anchor Wendy Bell spreading the news to make people smile again

Mary Pickels
| Sunday, June 25, 2017 9:00 p.m
ptrwendybell01021917
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Former WTAE news anchor Wendy Bell is shown at her home in Point Breeze, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017.
PTRbell033116
Mike Mancini
Wendy Bell, former WTAE news anchor
ptrwendybell02021917
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Former WTAE news anchor Wendy Bell is shown at her home in Point Breeze, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. Bell will be starting an online subscription news service called Positively Wendy Bell near the end of summer.
ptrwendybell01021917
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Former WTAE news anchor Wendy Bell is shown at her home in Point Breeze, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017.
GTRWendyBell1030617
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Former WTAE -TV anchor Wendy Bell shares a moment with Chloe Boske,16, and her sister Rylee,14, at a spring tea fundraiser sponsored by Greensburg College Club at the Greensburg Masonic Center on Sunday, March 05, 2017 in Hempfield.
GTRWendyBell4030617
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Former WTAE -TV anchor Wendy Bell has her photo taken with Brenda Wasil of Norvelt at a spring tea fundraiser sponsored by Greensburg College Club at the Greensburg Masonic Center on Sunday, March 05, 2017 in Hempfield.
GTRWendyBell2030617
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Former WTAE-TV anchor Wendy Bell talks with the members of the Greensburg College Club during a spring tea fundraiser at the Greensburg Masonic Center on Sunday, March 05, 2017, in Hempfield.
GTRWendyBell3030617
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Former WTAE -TV anchor Wendy Bell talks with Muriel Paulson of Hempfield at a spring tea fundraiser sponsored by Greensburg College Club at the Greensburg Masonic Center on Sunday, March 05, 2017 in Hempfield.
ptrwendybell01021917
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Former WTAE news anchor Wendy Bell is shown at her home in Point Breeze, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017.
ptrwendybell02021917
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Former WTAE news anchor Wendy Bell is shown at her home in Point Breeze, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. Bell will be starting an online subscription news service called Positively Wendy Bell near the end of summer.

Wendy Bell will bring what she calls her “own little version” of an Oprah Winfrey or Ellen DeGeneres giveaway to Greensburg’s Palace Theatre on June 28.

“An Evening of Thanks With Wendy Bell” will feature live performances and the debut of the former WTAE-TV news anchor’s new online community, PositivelyWendyBell.com, which goes live on June 29.

Bell plans to share inspiring stories of people she’s featured on her site.

Proceeds from ticket sales will grant several surprise wishes and benefit a Westmoreland County nonprofit.

“Every dollar raised from every ticket sold, the money is going to somebody,” Bell says.

During a recent telephone interview from her home near Wilkinsburg, where she is recuperating from a torn ACL, Bell welcomed home her sons from an outing, tried to corral her dog and chatted about her plans for the event.

Voting on her Facebook site will determine the winner among three local organizations.

“So much goes on outside (Allegheny County) and doesn’t get coverage. We vetted several dozen different charities. We thought these three represented three segments of our population who need some love,” she says.

The Pittsburgh television station fired Bell last year, citing controversial comments she posted and later deleted on the company’s Facebook account about the March 9, 2016, shooting deaths of five adults and an unborn child in a backyard barbecue ambush in Wilkinsburg.

The company’s delayed reaction and Bell’s subsequent firing drew widespread public criticism on social media. Bell, who is suing WTAE, retains a popular online presence. Her Facebook page is closing in on 100,000 followers.

She previously announced plans to turn that account into a subscription-based website, focusing on “the goodness that is out there.”

Her event will spotlight nonprofits Operation Recovery Compassion, Animal Friends of Westmoreland and Beverly’s Birthdays.

When Smithton resident Renah Kozemchak’s uncle, Michael J. Cameron, 21, of Elizabeth was found dead in a pond at a Fayette County recovery facility, Renah decided to help those battling addiction.

Cameron was battling heroin addiction and admitted himself to the treatment center about two months before his 2014 death.

In 2015, the then-12-year-old began helping her mother promote a new effort, Operation Recovery Compassion, organizing a drive to collect hygiene, entertainment and snack items.

The charity has delivered more than 1,000 of the packs they call “Hope in a Bag” to recovering addicts across Western Pennsylvania.

Founder Candy Nelson launched no-kill shelter Animal Friends of Westmoreland in Youngwood in 2009 with the help of a donated building and lots of volunteers. Eight years later, three staff members and 200 volunteers continue the work that has now helped more than 2,500 animals find homes.

It’s expanding its efforts with the recent purchase of a 62-acre farm in Unity, where its rescue efforts can include large animals like horses, goats, pigs and other farm animals, including chickens.

“We’d also like to have a separate program where kids — whether they’re inner-city kids or abused children — can come and rebuild a sense of trust by interacting with the animals,” Nelson says.

The site will offer space to build a new facility to house more dogs, cats and rabbits than the existing location can hold.

Also being highlighted is Beverly’s Birthdays, a North Huntingdon charity Megs Yunn started in 2012 after meeting a young girl named Beverly who told Yunn she had never had a birthday party.

Yunn created Beverly’s Birthdays to provide celebrations for homeless children in the Pittsburgh area, with staff and volunteers helping more than 10,000 children to celebrate so far.

“I’m awash in men — my husband, five sons, even a male dog,” Bell says. “I’m so inspired by these three young women who started their own nonprofits. They saw a need in their community and took action.”

She plans to show video stories, similar to what she will post on her website, and recognize some people who have worked to overcome various challenges.

Part of her new online effort will include Bell once again covering stories, but with a positive focus, she says. At least initially, stories will come from the “great petri dish” of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, Bell says.

“We will be looking at all of our neighborhoods; people can share wonderful stories,” she says.

Her supporters, Bell says, are the reason she started her new project.

“I’m just the conduit,” she says. “I’m a storyteller. People are hungry for it. They deserve it. They want to smile again.”

Telling stories on her own terms is freeing, she says.

“This is my career. … News is sad. News is depressing. Life is not about that. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. I have no regrets. This is a dream for me. … It was painful to get here, but what a blessing,” Bell says.

Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5401 or mpickels@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MaryPickels.

Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff reporter. You can contact Mary at 724-836-5401, mpickels@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.