A community thrives when a variety of individuals and organizations work to make it a better place. Meet some of the people who have helped to transform the community from the inside out.
“When you build a house,” says Raul Hernandez, “you build a community.” With a coalition of church and community leaders, Hernandez co-founded an organization that has created of hundreds of affordable, dignified homes in Pilsen and, in the process, transformed the neighborhood.
Adults in Pilsen have historically worked menial jobs, with limited upward mobility. While at Instituto del Progreso Latino, Juan Salgado developed innovative new adult education programs, enabling thousands to improve their skills and launch prosperous careers. Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently tapped him to bring his skills to City Colleges of Chicago.
In January 2017, Ciera Mckissick opened a small gallery and arts incubator on the east side of Pilsen. She’s not from Pilsen, but says she has long been inspired by its art and its people. She is one of a growing number of newcomers attracted to the neighborhood.
Carmen Velásquez was indignant about the lack of health care available in her community. So she fought to open a clinic. Today, Alivio Medical Center operates one urgent care center and six community health centers, three of them in local schools.
Lilliana Calderon found steady employment and financial independence with the help of Chicago Women in Trades, a local organization that helps women break into the male-dominated plumbing, carpentry, pipe-fitting, electric, and bricklaying trades. She recently bought her first home in Pilsen.