Stories by Joanna Hernandez

La Tiendita in Pilsen provides free necessities to people in need. (WTTW News)

Pilsen’s La Tiendita Connects Families in Need to Free Clothing, Necessities

The free shop is located inside a Chicago Public Schools Parent University, which offers classes and workshops on topics like financial literacy, career development and more.

Food at Belly Bowl Asian Kitchen and Lounge in Bridgeport. (WTTW News)

Bridgeport Restaurant Blends Mexican, Asian Cuisine: ‘We Try to Mix It All Up’

The owners of Belly Bowl Asian Kitchen and Lounge experiment with different spices and flavors, offering a blend of cultures.

Jaime Romero, owner of Futurama Beauty Academy. (WTTW News)

Cosmetology School Owner Looks to Teach, Inspire Others From Immigrant Backgrounds

At a cosmetology academy in Back of the Yards, Jaime Romero is using his entrepreneurial spirit to guide his students through the beauty industry. He also knows what it’s like to face obstacles because of undocumented status. 

A worker at the 211 Resource Navigation Center. (WTTW News)

211 Helpline Connects Cook County Residents to Health and Social Services: ‘It’s Those Everyday Emergencies’

Have you heard of 211? It’s a free hotline connecting Chicago and suburban Cook County residents to everyday services — from housing resources to utility payment assistance.

Breaking ground at the site of Xquina Incubator & Café on Dec. 5, 2023. (Provided)

Little Village Community Hub to Connect Local Entrepreneurs to Resources, Programming

Little Village is known for its business corridor and its Latino entrepreneurship. A space coming to the heart of the neighborhood is designed to help those without access to resources kickstart a business.

The labels from Funkytown Brewery pay tribute to Black cultural influences. (WTTW News)

Funkytown Brewery Looks to Bring Black Cultural Influences Into Craft Beer Market

Funkytown’s beers can be found at more than 100 locations around the Chicago area. It was their pale ale called Hip Hops and R&Brew that kick-started the trio into the craft beer industry.

Haugan Elementary School principal Heather Yutzy and students. (WTTW News)

At Albany Park Elementary School, Community Rallies Behind Migrant Students and Their Families

“We’re trying to put ourselves in the place of these families,” Haugan Elementary School principal Heather Yutzy said. “If we were in this situation, what would we need for our kids?”

(Gonzalo Guzmán García / Pexels)

From Making Pozole to Playing Lotería, Here’s How Some Chicagoans Are Celebrating the Holidays

“Chicago Tonight: Latino Voices” host Joanna Hernandez went out to ask people to share what they enjoy about this time of year.

A customer makes a purchase from a Little Village food truck vendor. (WTTW News)

As Armed Robberies Continue, Street Vendors in Little Village Fear for Their Safety

Multiple vendors in Little Village say they have been robbed at gunpoint despite efforts to protect them. The latest victims are food truck workers.

What is Chamoy? See How Family-Run Company Makes the Sweet, Spicy Mexican Sauce

WTTW News stopped by Big Mich, a family-owned company that specializes in house-made micheladas and is now making chamoy at its Willowbrook headquarters. There’s an original lime flavor, plus strawberry and mango.

Volunteers with the Ojala Foundation distribute food. (WTTW News)

‘It Could Be Any One of Us’: Muslim Organization Helps Those Facing Homelessness in Chicago

Winter in Chicago can be brutal, and it can be even worse for those experiencing homelessness. A Latino Muslim organization is coming together to help those in need on the city’s Southwest Side.

A graduation program for the Avondale Restorative Justice Community Court. (WTTW News)

Cook County Restorative Justice Program is Giving People a Second Chance

The Avondale Restorative Justice Community Court program offers those charged with nonviolent offenses a chance to turn their lives around. Rather than serving time, people are given another option.

DACA Recipients Push for Action on Federal Health Insurance Coverage

Earlier this year, the Biden administration announced plans to expand health care coverage to those enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. But the proposed change has yet to be finalized, leaving thousands of young adults who were brought to the U.S. as children in limbo.

Curtis “The Grandyman” Granderson works with kids at the Chicago Baseball and Educational Academy. (WTTW News)

MLB All-Star Inspires Next Generation of Players at Chicago Academy

Curtis “The Grandyman” Granderson spent 16 seasons playing Major League Baseball. Now he’s passing down those years of experience to the next generation of players and inspiring them to pursue college.


With Coffee and a Shaving Brush, Here’s How Some Chicagoans Are Remembering Their Loved Ones on Dia de los Muertos

El Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Day, is a two-day celebration where people come together to remember their late loved ones. It’s a beautiful, colorful tradition with festivities, music and food.

Deronis Cooper works in his garden in Garfield Park. (WTTW News)

How a Chicago Police Officer Transformed His Backyard Into an Award-Winning Oasis

Deronis Cooper said getting his hands in the dirt helps him cope with the challenges of being a police officer. What started with four planters has grown into more than 50 plant species in his backyard.

Tania León appears on “Chicago Tonight: Latino Voices” on Oct. 19, 2023. (WTTW News)

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Composer Tania León Talks Teaching Northwestern Students, Creating Her Own Language

Tania León is an Afro-Cuban Latina composer who has made her mark by following the rhythm of her own beat. León’s pieces carry both her Caribbean influences and the sounds of her travels.

(WTTW News)

How Accelerated Moving Events Are Helping Combat Homelessness in Chicago

Accelerated Moving Events use federal funding to connect people to housing, among other services. During an event, clients work with the AME team to browse apartment units, fill out an application and pick out furniture from the Chicago Furniture Bank.

WTTW News correspondent Joanna Hernandez (right) interviews Spanish speakers. (WTTW News)

For Spanish Speakers, the Right Word Often Depends on Where You’re From

You have probably had these debates before. Is it pop or soda? Fireflies or lightning bugs? Well, just like the English language, in Spanish, people use different words to describe the same thing depending on where they’re from. So we headed out to ask people, “¿Cómo se dice la palabra?”

Dancers from Ballet Folklorico de Chicago rehearse. (WTTW News)

A Chicago Dance Studio Is Working to Keep Traditional Mexican Folk Dancing Alive

A dance studio on the Northwest Side is working to keep a Mexican tradition alive. And for a group of young dancers, there is joy to be found in every step and turn.

(WTTW New)

Ride Along With a Task Force Working to Reduce Car Jackings in Chicago

Get an inside look at how a regional task force is working to apprehend carjackers across Chicago. 

Exploring the Pride and Pressure of Being a First-Generation Latino American

Being a first-generation Latino American comes with rewards and struggles — from honoring your roots while defining your identity as an American to dealing with the weight of family expectations while forging your own path.

Harry and Yolanda Pena have been helping asylum seekers in Chicago. (WTTW News)

A Year Later, Asylum Seekers Work to Build New Lives With Help From Chicagoans

This week marks one year since the first bus of asylum seekers arrived in Chicago from the southern border. Since then, WTTW News has covered the city’s and volunteers’ response to aid the thousands of migrants seeking shelter.

Shequita Burch, a Safe Passage worker, is pictured on Aug. 21, 2023. (WTTW News)

As Chicago Public Schools Students Return to School, Safe Passage Workers Prepare to Keep Kids Safe

As students return, so to do the Safe Passage workers who are tasked with making sure students make it and from school safely.

Taqueria Las Flores, 3352 W. Foster Ave., was burned down on Aug. 5, 2023. (WTTW News)

Taqueria Las Flores Owner Hoping to Rebuild After Fire Destroys North Park Restaurant

Jazmin Flores, the young entrepreneur and owner of Taqueria Las Flores, used her savings to open the restaurant four years ago. She stayed open through the pandemic and navigated financial struggles. Now she’s forced to start over.

(WTTW News)

At Humboldt Park Hub, Cook County Sheriff’s Office Helps People Released From Jail

“We’re doing all this work with people and mental illness and working with their individual issues, but then when they would leave us, they would go out to the community with minimal services,” Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said. “And I said, OK, we will set up our own services office.”