Stories by joanna hernandez

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

Hurricane Fiona hits Puerto Rico. (CNN)

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.

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

Salvation Army Center in Chicago. (WTTW News)

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.  

Community Groups Work to Provide Support to Migrants Arriving From Texas

Donations for migrants arriving from Texas. (WTTW News)

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

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

(WTTW News)

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.

Pilsen Pantry in Former Church Faces Challenges

(WTTW News)

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.

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

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

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. 

Husband and Wife Evolve Waukegan Grocery Store into Community Hub

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

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 Takes Basketball to Chicago Neighborhoods

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

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. 

Highland Park, Highwood Communities Come Together to Heal

(WTTW News)

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.

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

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

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.

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

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

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.

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

(WTTW News)

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.

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

(WTTW News)

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.

Pain Into Purpose: In Search of Justice for Miguel Rios

(WTTW News)

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. 

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

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

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. 

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

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)

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. 

Teens Developing Urban Design Skills While Improving Their Neighborhood

(WTTW News)

The project is part of the city’s INVEST South/West initiative and led by the Chicago Department of Transportation. The initiative works with a variety of partners to revitalize marginalized communities. 

Local Nonprofit Leader Wants to Use Healing Power of Books to Help Kids

Seena Jacob, founder of nonprofit BookWallah, reads to a group of children at a Boys and Girls Club in the North Center neighborhood. (WTTW News.)

Seena Jacob, the founder of the nonprofit BookWallah, is working to help children heal from trauma using books. She founded the organization in 2009 when she says she began to question her life’s purpose and started to visit orphanages around the world. 

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Proposed Casino Sites

(WTTW News graphic)

Chicago has three finalists for potential casino sites, but residents of those communities have mixed feelings. Some fear a rise in crime and the impact a casino could have on neighboring small businesses. Others are hopeful it could provide good paying jobs.

Confection Connoisseurs Bid Farewell to Dinkel’s Bakery

By the looks of the lines at Dinkel’s, lots of customers are going to miss the sweetness of the bakery. (WTTW News)

It’s a bittersweet month as the Lakeview neighborhood says goodbye to Dinkel’s Bakery, a staple in the neighborhood that has been making sweet desserts for decades. 

Rogers Park Wine Business Looks to Expand Customers’ Palates While Continuing to Adapt

Liz Ahearn opened Picnic Wine and Provisions in Rogers Park seven months before the pandemic hit. (Joanna Hernandez / WTTW News)

Liz Ahearn opened her Rogers Park business, 7301 N. Sheridan Road, seven months before the pandemic hit. Like many other shop owners, she’s had to get creative. Despite the challenges, she has managed to keep her business growing. 

Families Plea for FBI Assistance in Solving Chicago Homicides: ‘CPD Has Failed These Families’

Victor Chihuake asks for the FBI to investigate the unsolved homicide of his cousin Ramiro Morales Jr. during a rally outside the Chicago FBI field office on March 22, 2022. (Joanna Hernandez / WTTW News)

Mothers and family members who are seeking justice in the killings of their loved ones stood outside the Chicago FBI field office. The rally was organized by the Little Village Community Council as a way to bring attention to unsolved homicides in the city and to ask the FBI for assistance.

Wherewithall Chef Honors Ukrainian Heritage, Grandmother Through His Menu

Chef Johnny Clark created a menu inspired by his Ukrainian heritage at his restaurant Wherewithall. (WTTW News)

Johnny Clark, chef and owner at Chicago restaurant Wherewithall, is using his culinary skills to help keep Ukrainian culture alive while at the same time raising funds for the country. 

New Podcast Series Explores Queer History With Help From Library’s Archives

Ariel Mejia, left, and Jen Dentel are co-creator of the “Unboxing Queer History” podcast. (WTTW News)

A library filled with collections of people’s stories is coming to life in a new podcast series called “Unboxing Queer History.”

21st Annual Chicago International Salsa Congress Kicks Off

(WTTW News)

After having to go virtual last year The Chicago International Salsa Congress is back this weekend. A four-day event celebrating Afro Latin music and dance. 

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.