Stories by joanna hernandez

Christine Hernandez. (WTTW News)

As Changes Come to the National Organ Donor System, Those Waiting for Donations Hope for the Best

Despite more people receiving organs, it’s still not enough to meet high demand. Recently, the U.S. government announced a plan to revamp the way organ recipients are chosen and organs distributed. 

(WTTW News)

Sam the Barber Creates Hope, Boosts Confidence With Free Haircuts Across Chicago

Public libraries can be a safe haven for those struggling with homelessness. That’s the story of a local barber who benefited from the library’s resources to turn his life around. From living in the streets to becoming a licensed barber, Samuel Brown is now on a mission to pay it forward.


Chicagoans Come Together to Celebrate Transgender Day of Visibility

On Friday, people around the world came together for the annual Transgender Day of Visibility, a day to celebrate the resilience of transgender and nonbinary people.

(WTTW News)

How a West Side Congregation is Helping Migrants Bused to Chicago From the Border

It’s been more than six months since hundreds of migrants arrived in buses from the Texas border. At Grace and Peace Church in North Austin, a congregation is helping asylum seekers through their journeys.

(WTTW News)

On Match Day, Loyola Medical Students One Step Closer to Achieving Their Dreams

Every year on Match Day, medical students across the U.S. anxiously open envelopes to learn the name of the institution where they will start the next chapter of their careers. 

Funeral services were held for fallen Chicago police Officer Andrés Mauricio Vásquez Lasso, 32, on March 9, 2023. (Chicago Police Department / Twitter)

Mourners Gather at Funeral of Slain Chicago Police Officer Andrés Mauricio Vásquez Lasso

Chicago police Officer Andrés Mauricio Vásquez Lasso, 32, was shot and killed last week while responding to a domestic violence call on the city’s Southwest Side. Hundreds gathered Thursday to pay their final respects, describing the officer as selfless and brave.

The United Center is pictured on March 6, 2023. (WTTW News)

United Center Concession Workers Prepare for Strike During Big Ten Tournament as Negotiations Continue

United Center concession workers are in the middle of contract negotiations with the hospitality company that operates the service. On Sunday, dozens of workers walked out on a one-day strike during the Chicago Bulls game. 

Half of Discount Mall Vendors to Close Shop in Little Village: ‘We Don’t Have Any Choice’

For the last two years, Discount Mall has been in the middle of a battle between its vendors and property owner Novak Development. Now, half of the mall’s vendors have until the end of this month to pack up and leave.

Chicago Public Library sign. (WTTW News)

Back of the Yards Residents Push Back Against Plan to Merge New Library with Public Housing Project

The only library in Back of the Yards shares a space with a local high school. Some residents have advocated for a new freestanding library, securing $15 million in state funding to build it. But a new proposal would incorporate the library into a public housing project.

A rendering of the redesigned area around the Discount Mall in Little Village (Courtesy of Novak Construction, Mid-America and Hirsch, MPG)

Discount Mall in Little Village to Continue Operations as Long-Term Deal Signed

Improvements to the mall are planned, including new roofs and facades, parking lot resurfacing, new landscaping, new lighting and an underground storm water detention system. 

Emergency responders aid in recovery efforts in Turkey. (CNN)

Chicago-Area Nonprofit Mobilizes Response to Earthquakes in Turkey

Aid organizations say the next few days are crucial when it comes to rescue operations. One local organization is leading its own emergency response team in Turkey. 

Discount Mall vendors rally as they seek answers about their future from the mall's owners on Jan. 31, 2023. (Joanna Hernandez / WTTW News)

Little Village Discount Mall Vendors Given Another Short-Term Extension as Future Remains Unclear

Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th Ward) recently hosted a meeting Tuesday with vendors to reassure them he will be fighting to keep the retail hub open. Novak Construction, the mall’s owner, extended vendors’ leases until the end of March.  

(WTTW News)

Chinatown Readies for Lunar New Year Parade Amid Security Concerns

The Lunar New Year Parade is returning to Chinatown this weekend. As hundreds are expected to gather, the Chicago Police Department will be on alert following the recent mass shooting in Monterey Park, Calif.

(WTTW News)

Volunteers Work to Protect Little Village Street Vendors Amid Uptick in Robberies

Vendors have rallied in front of the Chicago Police Department headquarters, asking for more police presence in the morning, when many vendors are out as early as 4 a.m.

(WTTW News)

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy in Marquette Park

Over 50 years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. marched through the park and hundreds gathered to fight for fair housing. How the community has changed since then.

Vicki Strawn walks with her son, Nate Strawn, months after receiving a heart transplant. (WTTW News)

Suburban Woman Looks Forward to New Year Thanks to Heart Donor

At the age of 51, Vicki Strawn suffered a heart attack. Living with cardiac problems came with limitations that made it difficult to walk or cook. Strawn finally got the call she’d been waiting for on May 16, 2021.

Little Village vendors call for more protection outside of Chicago Police Department headquarters on Dec. 21, 2022. (WTTW News)

Little Village Vendors Push for More Police Protection After Wave of Armed Robberies

One by one, street vendors recently walked into Chicago Police Department headquarters. They were on a mission to get help following recent robberies of street vendors along 26th Street.

Digital creator and social media influencer Chris Dolo. (WTTW News)

From Carnitas to Barbecue, TikTok Creator Chris Dolo Harnesses Power of Social Media to Showcase Chicago Food Scene

In Chicago, a digital creater who goes by the name Chris Dolo has been able to make a name for himself by reviewing food. He joined “Latino Voices” to talk about his road to TikTok fame and the ways he uses it to showcase local offerings.

(WTTW News)

New Community Campus Hopes to Bring Gathering Space, Activity Hub to Austin

Broader Urban Involvement and Leadership Development is close to completing a large community campus that will bring services and gathering spaces. 

Chicago Youth Boxing Club hosts an amateur tournament. (WTTW News)

Boxing Gym Tucked Inside a Little Village Church Basement Aims to Provide Support and Encouragement

A boxing gym in the basement of a Little Village church is on a mission to provide new opportunities for neighborhood kids. Chicago Youth Boxing Club started in 2006 as a refuge for young people seeking a positive outlet.

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.”