The Ripple Effect

The book prototype I had created and almost completed writing when I got the hosting job with Evine – then Shop NBC 12 years ago

Have you ever hit hard times and needed help?  I have- I’ve always believed that when you are blessed, you should be a blessing to others. Over a decade ago, I struggled to find my niche-even after getting my Broadcast Journalism degree, I felt the News wasn’t for me—I would want to give the woman who lost her son at the murder scene a hug, not just report the news!  I needed some direction — my life coach asked,  “What is your passion?” I responded sarcastically, “I’m really good at shopping!”

Not the easiest thing in the world, to find a career that marries shopping, acting and improv background and the one that utilized the “talkative” comment most teachers would write on my report card growing up!  “Have Faith, ” she said.  I struggled for quite a while, trying many different sales jobs, but no real passion for any of them- I was feeling defeated.

On my wedding day 13 years ago, I walked up the stairs to Beverly Hills Town hall. My phone rang- it was my agent asking if I would like to host a Home Shopping Network (back then Shop NBC)—I said YES!

I sent in my demo reel-a prototype of me hosting a show I created “Inside LA”, showcasing the best places to dine, club and shop in Los Angeles. Soon after, I booked the job! My new husband and I moved to Eden Prairie, MN where Evine is broadcast and I’ve been a part of the Evine family for the past 12 years.

Remembering how lost I felt and fearful, I now help women identify their skills, to believe in themselves to find a job and a better future for their family with Dress for Success.  As a Career Advocate I speak to the women engaged in the 8- week program about what it takes to “sell” themselves to an employer through their words and body language/energy to get the job.  As a One-on-One Mentor, I’ve been able to impact many women’s lives by giving advice and encouraging them to reach their dreams through daily action.

wendi2I was so proud of our Evine hosts for agreeing to be a part of the Dress for Success annual 5k fundraising walk to support this job program!
I was even prouder that our President, Bob Rosenblatt, was kind enough to donate $1500 on behalf of Evine for our Dress for Success team!  Hosts Kendy Kloepfer, Heather Hall, Kimberly Wells, Allison Waggoner and Melissa Miner all donated to the cause, helping us to raise over $2100!

wendiEarly the morning of the race, Evine Hosts Skip Connelly, Lynne Schacher, Brian Kessler, Kristine Kvanli, Sam Simmons and Fatima Cocci and I all rallied together at 6am, walking to raise money to support the women in the “Going Places Network”.

We had a ball!  Sam chose to run it with Kristine, while Skip walked alongside Fatima and I was busy Snap Chatting on the Evine account—hopping from host to host, jumping into each conversation.  At the end of the walk, we ran and crossed the finish line hand-in-hand!  The ladies from Dress for Success were at the finish line and cheered us on with their kids.


We all bonded in a very unique way that day, and vowed to do it again next year!  I call this the Ripple Effect because if each of us helped someone and then they helped someone once they were on their feet, we would magnify the impact!

What are you doing this holiday season to give back?  Leave your comments below!  If you want to donate clothing for this program, find your local chapter at

“Be Good to Others” and stay tuned for my “5 Days of Kindness” Initiative December 5-9th on my Facebook Page and Evine’s social media platforms! Fine me at:  Wendi Russo Evine Live.

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Be the change you wish to see in the world

Be the change that you wish to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi

I had been planning my vacation to Jamaica for almost a year!  I envisioned tropical beaches, Pina Coladas, fun in the sun!  I did not count on another version of Jamaica – one filled with poverty and hunger – the other side of the Island in Kingston, Jamaica.

Two weeks ago, I flew to Jamaica to represent Mrs USA in the United Nations pageant system, a pageant based on service and a desire to make a positive and global impact with the less fortunate.  For more than a decade, I’ve been mentoring with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Kinship of Greater Minneapolis, and as a Career Advocate and speaker for Dress for Success.  As Mrs. USA United Nations, I’d been promoting ‘Become an Everyday Hero: Mentor a Child,’ hoping more adults and families would consider mentoring a young person, helping them to grow and develop into productive young people with a promising future.

Over the years I’ve been partnered up with children who didn’t have much in terms of familial support or material things, but nothing had prepared me for what I was about to experience on my trip.  The Director of the United Nations pageant is a Jamaican gentleman with a heart for the orphans living in the Jamaican Christian Boys Home in Kingston, Jamaica and, once all of the delegates arrived, we headed to the Boys Home to paint the exterior of the building the boys lived in.

Wendi blog 2 clotheslineDriving up I was struck by the condition of the home and property – it was dilapidated, the yard filled with junk and garbage, broken windows, old mattresses stacked up, dangerous wires and pipes, cinderblocks strewn Wendi blog 2 basketballaround . . . and the boys ran around with old, dirty, torn, ill-fitting clothing and bare feet.  Occasionally, one shoe was seen on the driveway but there was no one to tell them to bring it inside.  One boy was trying to bounce a basketball that was worn down to its innards and toss it into the rusty basketball hoop with no net.

Twenty boys lived in this orphanage, and they slowly peeked out and crept over to see who was coming to paint their home.  One 12-year old wasn’t afraid and began asking me questions about the USA.  I asked him what they really needed there.  He said “We really need Wendi blog 2 photo w boy leftanother bike.  We only have one bike and we need a bike for the smaller boys so we can race.”  “You only have one bike for 20 boys?” I asked.  “Yes.” he replied.  I was thinking that, in the US, that would not happen – there would be drives, churches would get involved, people would donate from their excess but, here in Jamaica, there is no excess and no Target or Walmart with inexpensive bikes.  “We also need church clothes – pants and a buttoned-down shirt.”  All the boys had now were ripped jeans and shorts and old t-shirts.  Going to church was their one day out of their compound since it was summer and there was no leaving for school.  They spent 24/7 at the home – riding one bike and playing with a few old balls.

The delegates from around the world painted all day in the hot sun and 100 degree heat (Why didn’t I bring a hat!  Why am I wearing jeans?! Why didn’t I bring suntan lotion?)  Those of us from colder climates found ourselves with sun stroke after a few hours and had to lay on the shady porch to rest and rehydrate . . . did I mention there was no air conditioner inside this home?  After 8 hours, the home had a fresh coat of red paint on its exterior.  Inside was a 90-year old woman who owned the home and had the most beautiful, full smile I’ve ever seen!  To everyone who passed by, she would smile her toothy grin and then go back to her crossword puzzle, occasionally dozing off mid-word, while her stocking fell down to her ankle.  She and her husband had taken boys in to her home decades ago, along with older boys who were not mentally able to live on their own and, now that he had passed, it was just her.  She has a heart of gold.

As we left for the day,  I thought about what more I could do – the bed sheets were filthy and old, the pillows had no pillow cases, the pots and pans were warped and looked like they were 100 years old.  In America, all of these things would have been tossed decades earlier.  We rarely ‘wear’ anything out – we buy new even before something is old!  When I told my daughter about these boys and their single bike, she agreed: first things first – we needed to buy them a bike!

Wendi blog 2 chloe mom bikeIn Jamaica, a mid-sized bike is $125; Chloe picked out a green one that looked like a racing bike.  We also bought chicken, pasta and the ingredients for chocolate chip cookies for the upcoming cooking contest to be judged by all of the boys; then we headed to the orphanage.

The excitement on the boys faces when they saw their new bike was a sight to see!  The jumped up and immediately starting pumping the tires up, adjusting the seat, testing out the bell on the handlebars, and then the first boy jumped on it for its first spin up the bumpy driveway – they didn’t mind!  They stood up on the foot pedals so they didn’t feel the bumps, and sailed back and forth with the freedom a new bike gives – as well as the joy of riding on a bike that has speed since it had 2 good tires!  Here’s the video:

That day my family cooked fried, breaded, pounded cotoletta chicken chicken breast (an Italian favorite), penne with tomato sauce, and I made large, soft chocolate chip cookies (giving tastes of dough and chips to the boys along the way).  I wanted to represent a traditional American dessert – plus I gave each boy a Snickers bar (chocolate is a real treat since it’s expensive there).  After all the different countries’ foods were tasted, the boys started chanting “USA Wendi blog 2 cooking USA USA” – we had won the cooking challenge! (Thank goodness my husband was there to help me cook for that many kids!)

A few days later, I won the title of Mrs. United Nations 2016, my daughter won Little Miss United Nations 2016 and, with it, we plan on doing what we can to create more smiles around the world  – as well as feel more gratitude for all that we have and are able to give.

Wendi blog 2 family sashes 2

Wendi blog 2 kids

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