Stories by Joanna Hernandez

Clearing Couple Starts Pet Pantry to Help Those in Need

Meet a couple that used their stimulus checks to build a pet pantry to help those struggling to buy pet goods. (WTTW News)

It has become more common to see donation boxes across the city. Some are filled with books and others with canned goods. We head to Clearing to speak with a couple who has built a donation box to help those with pets. 

Local Officials Warn About Some Pop-Up COVID-19 Testing Sites

The Center for Covid Control is temporarily closing all their locations. (WTTW News)

City and state officials are advising people to be on the lookout for untrustworthy COVID-19 testing sites. What you should know before walking into a pop-up testing site. 

Demand for COVID-19 Testing Surges as Holidays Near

(WTTW News)

Pharmacies are dealing with a shortage of at-home COVID-19 tests as the demand for testing skyrockets ahead of the holidays.

Independent Humboldt Park Library Fighting to Keep Doors Open

The Read/Write Library is filled with unique publications like creative books, neighborhood newspapers and personal narratives by people who are incarcerated. (WTTW News)

For nearly 16 years, the Read/Write Library has been operating in the community, providing unique publications like creative books, neighborhood newspapers and personal narratives by people who are incarcerated. 

DuPage County Organization Seeks to Uplift Refugee Women

Josefina Rengifo (WTTW News)

Every year thousands of refugees seek asylum in the United States. Re:new is helping refugee women get back on their feet by teaching them how to become designers.

Ladies of Virtue Seeks to Empower Young Women, Prepare Them for College

(WTTW News)

Jamila Trimuel founded the nonprofit a decade ago and has made it her mission to help young Black girls go to college. “I see myself in the girls that I serve.”

Chicagoan Pours Love of Bikes, Coffee into Business

Heritage Bikes & Coffee in Lakeview (WTTW News)

Michael Salvatore, a fifth-generation Chicagoan, opened Heritage Bikes & Coffee in Lakeview in 2012. The business combines two things he loves while paying homage to his family and the city’s cycling history.

Local Chefs Work to Bring Black and Brown Communities Together

Chef Carlos Gaytán was born in Mexico and is the first Mexican Chef to win a Michelin Star. (WTTW News)

The Consulate General of Mexico has partnered with two local chefs to host a collaborative dinner to continue to build unity between Black and brown communities and work to heal divisions between cultures. 

Chicago’s Only Female-Owned, Queer-Friendly Bar Nobody’s Darling Aims to be Inclusive of Everybody

There’s a new bar in Andersonville that is one of the only bars left catering to queer women. Chicago Tonight’s Joanna Hernandez recently stopped by to learn more about the inspiration behind the bar’s name: Nobody’s Darling. (WTTW News)

There’s a new bar in Andersonville that is one of the only bars left catering to queer women. Chicago Tonight’s Joanna Hernandez recently stopped by to learn more about the inspiration behind the bar’s name, Nobody’s Darling.

Wicker Park Resident’s Passion Project Swells Into Booming Business

In 2015 Jamie Dalton started Aquarium Info, a blog to share information and tips to help others to start building their fish tanks. During the pandemic she decided to go a little further and transformed her second bedroom into a full functioning fish studio. (WTTW News)

Have you ever wanted to get a fish but had no idea where to start? We head to Wicker Park to meet Jamie Dalton, who began creating educational aquarium videos during the pandemic which led her to a new business venture.

Local Softball Player Hopes to Inspire Others, Help Women Go Pro

Abby Ramirez (WTTW News)

As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, meet a woman who is proud of her Mexican roots and shares what drove her to play professional softball. 

Tennis Festival Brings Pro Players to Chicago’s South Side

Kamau Murray, founder of the XS Tennis and Education Foundation. (WTTW News)

Tennis fans have the opportunity to catch some top professionals this week at the Chicago Tennis Festival. We meet the tournament’s promoter to learn more about his mission to give kids an opportunity to thrive.

Little Village Organization on a Mission to Conserve Monarch Butterflies

(WTTW News)

The nonprofit El Valor has raised thousands of monarchs, and each year the community comes together for a butterfly release. 

From a Busy Suburban Kitchen, Sisters Make Lunches for Homeless

Every Sunday, Ann Marie Frank, along with family members and volunteers, packs up lunches for homeless individuals. (WTTW News)

Ann Marie Frank is using social media to help feed homeless individuals in her community and beyond. We visit Des Plaines to see how she’s opened her kitchen to make thousands of lunches — with the help of family members and volunteers.

Chicago Westside Sports Aims to Build Community, Life Skills

Participants in Chicago Westside Sports play baseball at Columbus Park. (WTTW News)

A group of police officers and community leaders are using their time off to give back to underserved communities by getting young kids to play sports. We head to Columbus Park on the West Side to learn more.  

Love of Pit Bulls Inspires Colorful Mission to Break Stigma

A dog models apparel from Pittie Clothing Company, founded by Erin Crowley of Humboldt Park. (WTTW News)

A Humboldt Park woman is on a mission to break the stigma surrounding pit bulls — one colorful outfit at a time. How Erin Crowley’s line of dog apparel aims to help change people’s preconceived notions about the breed. 

High School Students Envision Clean Energy Future for Garfield Park

Al Raby High School teacher Jasmine Jones, second from left, and her students talk about their solar panel project. (WTTW News)
A group of students on the West Side are determined to make a big change by confronting environmental issues and working to bring solar energy to their community. We learn more about their vision for Garfield Park.

Chicago Park District Offers New Summer Camp Program for Teens

Teens can learn to build a fire, pitch a tent and work as a team as part of a new Chicago Park District program. (WTTW News)

From starting a fire to pitching a tent, some Chicago teens are learning what it takes to camp in the great outdoors. We visit the Lincoln Park neighborhood to learn more about the program.

How a Shared Kitchen is Helping a Community of Street Vendors Build Its Future

Juan Jose Gama Garcia starts his workday in the Gage Park neighborhood, July 20, 2021. (WTTW News)

Meet a group of Chicago food vendors who are now the owners of a shared kitchen after renting it for years. With it, they hope they can help their community achieve the American dream.

A Look at Efforts to Battle Mental Health Stigmas in Latino Communities

Nestor Flores of the Pilsen Wellness Center. (WTTW News)

Black and brown communities have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 — in both their physical and mental health. We take a look at the stigmas surrounding mental health in the Latino community, and what some people are doing to break those generational barriers.