Stories by Joanna Hernandez

Sandra Cisneros reads from her new book of poetry. (WTTW News)

Acclaimed Writer Sandra Cisneros on New Poetry, Chicago Roots

Sandra Cisneros visited her hometown for a reading of her new book at the Field Museum. “Woman Without Shame” is her first published collection of poems in 28 years. 

(WTTW News)

Migrants in Chicago Say They Are in Search of Work, Better Opportunities

Migrants arriving to Chicago from the Texas border say they are looking to build a better lives for themselves and want to provide support to their families back home. 

Karen Villagomez casts a ballot in Tuesday's election. (WTTW News)

After 15 Years of Waiting, DACA Recipient Casts Her First Ballot

“It was really exciting and I’m really grateful that I have the opportunity to use my voice this time around,” said Karen Villagomez, who cast her first ballot Tuesday.

A giraffe is pictured at Brookfield Zoo in November 2022. (WTTW News)

Brookfield Zoo Marks 100 Years Since Groundbreaking With Eye Toward the Future

Brookfield Zoo is celebrating a big milestone. It was a century ago when construction on the grounds began.

(WTTW News)

Pilsen Resident Creates Elaborate Dia De Los Muertos Backyard Altar

In Pilsen, one Chicago resident transformed her backyard into an altar that provides a transportive experience. You’ll find skulls, flowers and all kinds of objects offered to those who once lived.

(WTTW News)

Chicagoans Have Been Engaging in Protest of Iranian Regime

Human rights groups say more than 100 people have been killed in Iran since the death of a 22-year-old woman who was in the custody of police. Iranian Americans in Chicago have a message they want everyone to hear: “Stand with Iranian women.”

Paletas at Paleteria Las Delicias de la Michoacána. (WTTW News)

Owners of La Michoacána Shop Sharing Mexico’s Ice Cream Culture With Chicagoans

The history of La Michoacána goes back decades to a small town named Tocumbo in Michoacán. The brand name has given people like the Garcias opportunities to open their own independent businesses.

(WTTW News)

Columbus Day Parade Held, Indigenous Peoples’ Day Recognized

Some organizations and governments are changing how they observe the holiday, if at all, while many still gather for the annual parade.

Evelyn Flores and Laura Alvarado in their Little Village shop Alborada. (WTTW News)

Family-Run Dress Boutique in Little Village Part of Quinceañera Tradition

A quinceañera is all about the details. A family-run business in Little Village has been playing a part in the quinceañeras of area girls for years.

Dr. Suneel Udani and Quin Taylor advocate for kidney disease awareness. (WTTW News)

Transplant Recipient Advocates for Kidney Disease Awareness

Last year, the National Kidney Foundation launched Kidney Health for Life, a campaign focused on educating and targeting the high rate of kidney disease among the Black, Asian and Latino populations.

Hurricane Fiona hits Puerto Rico. (CNN)

As Puerto Rico Still Struggles With Hurricane Recovery, Chicago Organizations Mobilize

Hurricane Fiona swept through Puerto Rico last weekend leaving millions without power. Now, residents are left to recover and rebuild once again. In Chicago, local organizations and officials are coming together to support people on the island.

Salvation Army Center in Chicago. (WTTW News)

Government Officials, Local Organizations Work to Respond to Hundreds of Arriving Migrants

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott continues to bus hundreds of migrants to cities across the country. That includes Chicago, which has welcomed more than 500 people seeking asylum since Aug. 31. Another bus arrived Thursday night at Union Station.  

Donations for migrants arriving from Texas. (WTTW News)

Community Groups Work to Provide Support to Migrants Arriving From Texas

As buses of migrants arrive from Texas, the city of Chicago and local community organizations are working to get the newly arrived people settled.

(WTTW News)

Vendors at Little Village Discount Mall Told Leases Will Be Extended Until January 2023

After worrying for months that they would be kicked out under a new owner, vendors at the shopping center have been given a short extension on their leases.

(WTTW News)

Pilsen Pantry in Former Church Faces Challenges

A food pantry in Pilsen has been operating out of a former church for the last two years. The founder is hoping to buy the building but says she is running into obstacles with the Chicago Archdiocese.

The Discount Mall in Little Village is pictured in August 2022. (WTTW News)

As Contract Set to Expire, Fate of Little Village Discount Mall Still a Mystery

For now, it’s business as usual inside the Discount Mall in Little Village as customers navigate through the aisles and vendors work to land a sale. But these merchants don’t know how long they have left to run their businesses. 

Adam Carson and Nydia Gonzalez-Carson, owners of Supermarcado Gonzalez in Waukegan. (WTTW News)

Husband and Wife Evolve Waukegan Grocery Store into Community Hub

A husband and wife in Waukegan have transformed their grocery store to include a coffee shop, boutique and a gathering place for fellow entrepreneurs. 

Hoops in the Hood gives Chicago young people a chance to play basketball and connect. (WTTW News)

Hoops in the Hood Takes Basketball to Chicago Neighborhoods

Hoops in the Hood is taking over the streets of Chicago this summer by bringing kids and teens together to play basketball in their neighborhood backyards. Chicago Tonight’s Joanna Hernandez hears more about the mission behind the program and the leaders who are driven to make a change. 

(WTTW News)

Highland Park, Highwood Communities Come Together to Heal

The fourth of July shooting shook the north shore and beyond, including the area’s Spanish-speaking community. Two of the seven victims who died were Latino. Neighboring Highwood has a large Latino population and held a vigil earlier this week to remember those who were lost, and those who begin the healing process.

Lourdes Lara tends to the grave of her son, Chrys Carvajal, who was shot and killed in July 2021. (WTTW News)

Family Still Searching For Answers in Death of 19-Year-Old National Guardsman

Chrys Carvajal, 19, had graduated from National Guard training and was set to be stationed at a military base in Riverside. Last summer, he was shot dead over the Fourth of July weekend.

Elvis Sanchez works in a produce farm program through Urban Autism Solutions. (WTTW News)

West Side Produce Farm Works to Provide People With Autism Life Skills

Urban Autism Solutions, an organization on the West Side, is working to empower young adults on the autism spectrum to learn life skills. The 1.2- acre produce farm is a hands-on program teaching young adults the basics of farming with a goal of enhancing their social and vocational skills.

(WTTW News)

El Rescate in Humboldt Park Provides Housing, Hope for LGBTQ Youth

As Pride month is being celebrated, we’re highlighting people who are making an impact within the LGBTQ community. We visited a homeless haven in Humboldt Park and spoke with a woman who helps LGBTQ youth get housing and build independence.

(WTTW News)

Pain Into Purpose: Mothers Weigh in on Ongoing Violence in Chicago

As part of a Chicago Tonight’s special series, “Turning Pain into Purpose,” we are joined by two mothers affected by gun violence to discuss the work they’re doing in the community.

(WTTW News)

Pain Into Purpose: In Search of Justice for Miguel Rios

As part of “Chicago Tonight’s” special series “Turning Pain into Purpose,” Miguel Rios seemed to be doing everything right. At 18 years old, he was going to school, had a job and was there for his brothers and sisters. But this July will mark two years since he was killed, and his family has yet to receive justice. 

Maria Trujillo lost two sons within four months of each other. (WTTW News)

Pain Into Purpose: Mother Who Lost 2 Sons to Gun Violence Seeks Answers

As part of “Chicago Tonight’s” special series “Turning Pain into Purpose,” we speak with Maria Trujillo, a resident of Little Village. Trujillo lost two sons in a year and is still searching for answers. 

Nyisha Beemon holds a photo of her daughter, Jaya Beemon, who was shot and killed in February 2020. She has since started a foundation in her name. (WTTW News)

Pain Into Purpose: Mother Who Lost Daughter to Gun Violence Wants to Turn Convenience Store Where She Died Into Community Hub

It has been more than two years since Nyisha Beemon’s daughter was shot and killed inside a convenience store. Now, she wants to purchase the store and turn it into a community hub that would offer support and counseling.