Stories by Jay Shefsky

‘Noble Army’ Makes Thousands of Face Shields for Health Care Workers

Employees of the Dr. Lucy Lang-Chappell Housing Complex in Chicago wear face shields provided by the “Noble Army.” (Courtesy of Rob and Susan Parks)

Personal protective gear is often in short supply, but a group of people in the Chicago area have made a serious dent in that shortage. And, as we found out, they were inspired by “Chicago Tonight.”

‘I Don’t See This as a Job’: Group Home Manager Quarantines with Residents After COVID-19 Diagnoses

The Herbst House is part of Avenues to Independence, a nonprofit that provides housing to 54 people in 17 homes. (WTTW News)

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented many of us with challenging decisions, from managing our groceries to caring for vulnerable family members. Linda Smith made a choice many of us would find hard to imagine.

Black Fire Brigade Offers Free Training for EMTs, Paramedics and Firefighters

Quention Curtis of the Black Fire Brigade (WTTW News)

The Chicago Fire Department has long been overwhelmingly white, but that’s changing, in part due to discrimination lawsuits and, more recently, with the help of group that mentors and trains young first responders.

Aviation Training Returns to One Chicago Vocational High School

An undated photo shows Cornelius Coffey

You may have heard of Bessie Coleman, the pioneering African American pilot from Chicago. But there is much more to the history of black aviation in this town. And though that story has been largely forgotten, it’s now inspiring a new generation of aviators.

Chicago Artist Edo Wants to Light Up the World With Color

Chicago artist Edo (WTTW News)

From clothing to digital art to painting, Chicago artist Edo sees color in all forms. “Color is my thing,” he says. “I want it to light up a room.”

National Park Photographer Completes His Portfolio with Visit to Indiana Dunes

Photographer QT Luong at Kings Canyon National Park in California. (Courtesy QT Luong)

QT Luong is renowned for his photos of the country’s national parks. In 2019, he photographed what was then the newest national park: the Indiana Dunes.

For Elsa Harris, Playing Music About Preaching the Gospel, Healing

Elsa Harris has played in Chicago churches since she was 12 years old and has performed around the world. We visit this “legend of Chicago gospel.”

For First Time in 30 Years, Vinyl Records Being Made in Chicago

Smashed Plastic in Chicago. (WTTW News)

Ten years ago, less than 2 million records were purchased in the U.S. But last year, nearly 17 million were sold. And now there are records being made in Chicago for the first time in decades. We stop by to see how it’s done.

Local Violin-Making School Draws Students from Around the World

(WTTW News)

If you want to become a professional violin-maker, there are three places in the U.S. where you can learn how to do it: Boston, Salt Lake City and the Chicago suburb of Skokie.

60 Babies, 1 ‘Sunsuit’: A Tradition of Family Unity and Love

Mary Grace Pingoy and her son Zachary, the most recent member of the Martirez family to wear this hand-crocheted onesie, called a “sunsuit” in the Philippines. (Jay Shefsky / WTTW News)

A baby outfit made by a nun in the Philippines in 1945 has now been shared by three generations and 60 newborns. We meet the latest member of the family to wear it.

Newly Discovered Photos Reveal Childhood of Groundbreaking Journalist

(Courtesy of Jimmy Nuter)

Dozens of old glass negatives found in the attic of a North Side home lead to a surprising discovery, just days before the house was scheduled to be torn down. 

At Age 100, Heart Health Pioneer Still Doing Research

Dr. Jeremiah Stamler (WTTW News)

These days, we know that eating foods high in saturated fats, salt and cholesterol is unhealthy. But that wasn’t always the accepted wisdom. And the doctor whose research led to many of those discoveries just celebrated a milestone.

Commercial Photographer’s Archive Shows Passion for People

The photographer Dorrell Creightney.

When he died in 2011, Chicago photographer Dorrell Creightney left behind half a million photos. His work is not well known, but his daughters are on a mission to change that.

Tom Palazzolo’s ‘Clark Street’ Highlights Gritty Past of River North

(Credit: Tom Palazzolo)

The River North neighborhood offers a mix of restaurants, bars and galleries, but it wasn’t always so trendy. Chicago photographer and filmmaker Tom Palazzolo captured the area in the 1960s and now many of those photos are part of a new book.

At 102, This Longtime Chicago Pianist Has Still Got the Chops

Dorothy Olson Pauletti

Dorothy Olson Pauletti came to Chicago at age 17 and played piano professionally for nearly eight decades. At 102, she’s still living musically.

Nestor Gomez: Chicago’s Champion Storyteller

Nestor Gomez tells his story “Growing Another Heart” at a Moth StorySlam. (Credit: The Moth)

Live storytelling has become its own competitive sport, and it’s drawing crowds across the country. We meet the winningest storyteller in Chicago.

Local Nun Leads Chicago Marathon Team

Sister Stephanie Baliga runs past the Our Lady of the Angels church in Chicago. (Jay Shefsky / WTTW News)

In college, Stephanie Baliga was the sixth-fastest freshman in the nation. Now 31, the local nun is still running, but her goal isn’t the Olympics. It’s raising money for the religious community she serves.

Farmer’s Love of Trees Leads to Lifelong Hunt for Heirloom Apples

Al Westerman with three of the 124 apple varieties growing in his orchard. (Jay Shefsky / Chicago Tonight)

When Al Westerman’s grandparents bought a farm in Northern Illinois in 1911, it came with a house, a barn and an apple orchard. Now, he collects heirloom apple trees and grows more than 100 varieties. 

Mickey Alice Kwapis Wants You to Love Taxidermy As Much As She Does

Mickey Alice Kwapis

Mickey Alice Kwapis knows that she doesn’t fit most people’s idea of what a taxidermist looks like. And she is trying to change that.

Joel Paterson, Master of Classic Guitar Styles, Takes on the Beatles

There are plenty of Beatles covers in the world. But when a talented local guitarist like Joel Paterson applies his artistry to the fab four, that gets our attention.

As a Young Man, He Traveled with ‘Railroad Tramps’ and Documented Their Lives

Dale Wickum (Credit: Dale Wickum / followingthetracks.com)

More than 40 years ago, Chicagoan Dale Wickum traveled all over the country by freight train to meet and photograph men who called themselves “railroad tramps.” The photos have been in storage since the 1970s. Until now.

Brookfield Zoo Adopts 2 Stranded and Injured Sea Lions

Sabiena, one of Brookfield Zoo’s two newly adopted California sea lions, is examined by members of the zoo’s medical team on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. (Jay Shefsky / WTTW News)

The population at Brookfield Zoo is growing. Last week, the zoo adopted two California Sea Lions – both with health issues. We meet Carolyn and Sabiena as they get physical exams at the zoo.

Lifelong Dollhouse Maker Dreams of Creating a Museum

Pat Lohenry

Pat Lohenry has loved miniatures for as long as she can remember. And as a teenager, she went from playing with them to making them. Today, her basement is full of her creations.

Keya Trammell Was Bullied for Alopecia. Now She is Bald and Proud.

Keya Trammell

Sometimes, the very thing that brings a person the most trouble in life can become a source of joy and inspiration. Meet local singer – and mentor – Keya Trammell.

Bob Fosse’s ‘Riff Brothers’ Dance Partner Gives Old Routine New Life

Dancers Bob Fosse, left, and Charlie Grass perform as The Riff Brothers. (Courtesy of Charlie Grass)

As a teen, Charlie Grass was Bob Fosse’s dance partner. Now at age 91, he’s teaching their old routines to young Chicago dancers.

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