Remarkable Women: Celebrating the difference makers in the Rochester community

Remarkable Women

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Rochester is home to some remarkable women, past and present.

In this special, we highlight just a few of those women who are making a difference in our community. They’ve overcome tragedy to heal others, built churches, and shattered barriers.

March is International Women’s Month and last December, we asked you to nominate a woman who you think should be Nexstar Broadcasting’s Woman of the Year. We received nearly 100 nominations, and narrowed that list down to four finalists.

At the end of this special, a winner will be announced, and Rochester’s Remarkable Woman will travel to New York City to be in the audience of the Mel Robbins Show on Wednesday March 18. At that time, Robbins will announce the Nexstar Woman of the Year. The four finalists are:

Remarkable Women: Bishop Eulah Nelson

Some call her Mother Nelson, but this 86-year old powerhouse of a preacher is also a Bishop.
In 2018, she became only the third woman in the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World to be ordained to one of the highest leadership positions in the church.

“I am humbled and proud,” says Bishop Nelson. “Because finally women have been recognized as being good teachers and leaders.”

Bishop Eulah Nelson founded the Bibleway Healing Assembly in 1966. The church is now located in Henrietta, but in the earliest days, Nelson preached from her own home.

Today, some 600-to-700 people attend services at the church. Many more benefit from its good works–including jail ministry, hospital visits, food banks, and clothing drives.

Bishop Nelson is also a staple of Sunday broadcasts for radio station WDKX.

“My mission,” she says, “is to help heal hurting humanity.”

Bishop Nelson has three daughters and 10 grandchildren—one of whom is now a senior pastor in the church she built. Her husband of 56 years is her biggest supporter.

“My loving handsome husband who has been with me down through the years, a lifetime.” she says. “I tell people all the time, we still have the honey in the moon!”

It’s that focus on love and humor that keeps her going.

Nelson isn’t just a preacher. She’s an author and an academic. For her work in Rochester she received a key to the city. For her work in the church, she was ordained bishop. Bishop Eulah Nelson: a role model, trailblazer, and healer.

Remarkable Women: Denise Wesley

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — News 8 is proud to bring you the stories of Remarkable Women. We’re introducing you to people who have overcome obstacles and continue to make a difference. Here’s a look at how one Penfield Mom is focusing on helping others in the wake of her husband’s death.

The Wesley family was living what many would refer to as a dream life. Enjoying the fruits of a successful business started by Tim Wesley. They took several vacations, celebrated holidays and birthdays in a big way and made a lot of great memories over the years.

Little did they know, this would be one of the last videos of them all together, before Tim Wesley was diagnosed with a rare cancer. “

“Daddy has a tummy ache. We’re going to go the hospital and just get Daddy some medicine. We’ll be back,” Denise Wesley remembers telling her kids.

They did come back, but with some very grim news. Tim was given 18 to 14 months to live. They were in shock.

“I thought, wow! How do you tell them? We started doing some homework and then we started traveling because we knew we had to find out what the cancer was. Finally, Sloan Kettering told us it was appendix cancer,” Denise said.

They did their reaserach and finally found a doctor who could help.

“We found a list of 10 surgeons in the country only 10 that perform a surgery,” Denise said. “They removed a majority of my husband’s organs and then they heat up chemotherapy to a really hot temperature and they pipe it into your peritoneum and they strap you to a board and head over feet, side to side. It’s like a washing machine.”

The Wesleys’ believe it was that surgery that got him another five years with his family and friends.

“More birthdays, more vacations, just more of what people think are just another blah day. Our blah days were like awesome days, incredible days because it gives you such an appreciation for, even listening to the kids argue — we learned to not sweat the small stuff,” Denise said.

They also learned how time consuming and expensive it was to get the treatment he needed to give him more time with his family. That’s when they decided to start a non-profit organization called BeUnintimidated and raise money for others fighting cancer.

“I think he always use to say you know if this is the cross i have to bear than I’m going to bear it proudly and loudly,” Denise said. “If I have to go through this, if I can live it out loud and help somebody, share everything I’ve learned and everything I know. He would say it was worth it.”

Tim lost his hard fight with cancer in February of 2018. Not a day goes by that his daughters don’t think about their Father. They say their Mother has been strong, brave and positive throughout the entire thing. Skyler admires her Mom’s courage.

“The fact that it’s just her and she’s still doing all these things — it’s incredible,” Skyler said. “I always hear people complaining, ‘oh my Mom this or my Dad that, my parents are irritating me.’ So many little things! I guess you won’t realize it until it happens to you or until you have a parent gone or somebody gone out of your life. I shouldn’t have been complain.”

Her sister Mackenzie is also happy their Mom is being recognized.

“She’s always the one by your side,” Mackenzie said. “If I need anything. She’s always right there, even if she has a million other things going on.”

Denise, left alone to care for her daughters, learn how to operate the family business, raise tens of thousands of dollars for others fighting cancer and she still remains optimistic. She says we all need to learn to look on the bright side before it’s too late.

Her message to everyone”

“Stop, stop! Life’s so short. Even just the recent tragedy with Kobe Bryant, I mean that’s waking people up! But how long will it last? Are people awake for 5 days and then their kids are fighting or they stub their toe or somebody cuts them off in traffic and they’re back to being really unhappy and miserable. You know everything’s so bad! Everything’s not so bad. You can breath, you’re here, you’re functioning. Give good get good. keep giving out the positivity in the universe and it will return it to you!”

Advice from someone who has reason enough to be negative but chooses to look on the bright side.

Remarkable Women: Ellen Smith

From her farmhouse in Pittsford, Ellen Smith shows off a room full of donated dishware, all of for people who’ve risked everything to move to the U.S. It’s a reflection of how devoted she is to the cause.

Six years ago, Ellen volunteered to help an Afghan resettle in the U.S. Since then she’s built up a group of 300 volunteers. Keeping Our Promise Rochester has a singular mission: help the Afghan, Iraqi and Kurdish men and women who helped the U.S. and are now targeted by the Taliban and Isil.

“We made a promise to these people in Iraq and Afghanistan who helped our military, who helped USAid, who helped the Army Corps of Engineers, who worked in our embassies, who were the cooks and the cleaners at the bases, that if they helped us, we would keep them safe,” she says.

300 people have been helped by Keeping Our Promise Rochester. They include 110 families. All of them left their homeland under the Special Immigrant Visa Program. Keeping Our Promise Rochester greets them at the airport, then offers care and support as they settle into their new life.

It helps with everything from food to furniture, housing to jobs. It even has a car grant program that provides them with vehicles so they can get to work.

“Rochester is a very welcoming community and a very healing community,” Ellen says. “I think people when they come here, they see the very best of America here in Rochester.”

Ellen’s home serves as an informal headquarters. Donated items fill her porch and her office is now given over to the cause. The work is all-consuming. “It’s a 24 hour job when you’re called on a Thursday and a family of five is arriving on Monday and you need to find housing. I mean, you can’t say no. You can’t.”

Keeping Our Promise Rochester is the only program in the country that starts from the time of visa application to arrival in the U.S. It’s a process that can take years. “These families are doing quite well,” Ellen says. “They are proud to call themselves Americans and I’m proud that I got to help them become American citizens.”

Ellen Smith proves every day how beautiful a promise is, once kept.

Keeping Our Promise Rochester relies on the generosity of the community to carry out its mission. For more on a major fundraiser this March, click here.
For more information about Keeping Our Promise Rochester, click here.

Remarkable Women: Patricia Gleichouf

Patricia Gleichouf is an award winning author. She dedicated her latest book to her grandchildren. “The person who’s teaching you how to read is giving you the best gift you could ever get so it’s really important that you say to them, thank you for teaching me how to read,” Gleichouf said.

She loves to tell stories like this one about her book illustrator. “This person, Karen Mustofska who illustrated this book for me, she like lovely. She is the best artist and you know what she did for the most of her life? For the most of her life she was a hairdresser. She cut hair and curled hair but she drew pictures. She never let go of her dreams.” Gleichouf said to a group of school children.

The same is true for Gleichouf who after decades, is finally living her dream.

“When I grew up, there was not an abundance of books. It was the 50s, the library was too far to walk,” Gleichouf said. “I found books in the attic of our home.”

“I read Little Woman multiple times before I was 10 years old and I resonated with Joe March, I pretended to be Joe March writing book, walking around my house with a clip board writing books — so that inspired me.”

Gleichouf put her dream of becoming an author on hold — traveling the world for her job in pharmaceuticals and raising a family. Her daughter said she never stopped believing she would eventually accomplish her goals.

“It was her bucket list item my whole life,” Caroline Preston said. “She knew that when she retired, she wanted to write children’s books and she truly started the day that she retired.”

Now, she’s gaining national and international recognition for her series of children’s books which brings awareness to endangered sea creatures.

“‘Sea Turtle Circle’ was my first book published when I was 62. These are all rhyming lessons about endangered sea creatures,” Gleichouf said.

Of the three books Gleichouf wrote, all three have won awards.

“I’m not going to lie, it’s really fun to see your name on the front of a book. But when someone calls you to say you just won a gold medal or you book just won a national award, like I just jump out of my chair.”

Gleichouf spends a lot of her time traveling to different schools throughout the state and reaching to children free of charge.

“She’s literally the most remarkable woman I know,” Preston said. “In her retirement, she takes her free time and goes and sits with groups of kids anywhere that will have her and talks to them about literacy and the importance of reading and sharing her story and that they, too can follow their dreams and be happy.”

Gleichouf said our greatest asset is children and they need to succeed — but can’t if they don’t read.

“If they don’t like to read, they’re reading the wrong books. That’s my message to them. Keep reading, don’t stop reading. Reading is they key that will unlock your dreams,” Gleichouf said.

Advice from a remarkable woman who is living proof that it’s never too late to go after your dreams.

“Keep your hand in your dream and stay focused on it and your dream will come true.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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