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Report for America is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities. This year's cohort has been placed with more than 160 local news organizations across 45 states and Puerto Rico, including two journalists right here at WNIJ. We are thrilled to announce the addition of JuanPablo Ramirez-Franco to our news team, and a new role for WNIJ reporter Yvonne Boose.Yvonne Boose covers artistic, cultural, and spiritual expressions in the COVID-19 era. This includes how members of community cultural groups are finding creative and innovative ways to enrich their personal lives through these expressions individually and within the context of their larger communities.Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco covers substandard housing and police-community relations. An audio producer and journalist based out of Chicago, he’s also been a bilingual facilitator at the StoryCorps office.He will continue Sarah Jesmer’s award-winning work at WNIJ covering issues of social justice and identity. Jesmer earned a top award from the Illinois Associated Press for reports including: Inside DeKalb County's Unincorporated Apartments; Wigs, Lipstick & Sparkles: The Thriving Drag Scene In Northern Illinois; and Kish College: Anonymous Letters And A Controversial Investigation.These reporting positions come at a time when local journalism is already reeling from years of newsroom cuts and unforeseen challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.Both positions are partially funded by a grant from Report for America. WNIJ must raise an additional $30,000 in local matching funds. Support these important voices in our community by donating to WNIJ’s portion here.Yvonne and Juanpablo’s stories on our community will be collected below.

Variety Coming To Aurora's New Indoor Market

Society.jpg
Yvonne Boose
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Society 57 in downtown Aurora.

Like most cities across the country, Aurora's local businesses were hit hard by the pandemic. A nonprofit group is partnering with a social space to create revenue opportunities for area vendors.  

Art and Market Aurora is a new indoor market coming to the City.  

Local Nonprofit Aurora Downtown worked with community venue Society 57, 101 S. River Street, to make this possible. 

Marissa Amoni is the manager of Aurora Downtown. She said the organizations wanted to give vendors some sort of relief.  

“And it's really a celebration of the community as well. And it'll be fun. We're going to have a DJ there and it'll be a nice safe environment for people," she said. "Masks will be enforced as well as occupancy.” 

Amoni emphasized that this market will not only help businesses but also local growers. The market will include food merchants, artisans and artists.

Amoni confirmed that all vendor slots were filled.

“We have two dozen vendors signed up, but they will be rotating,” Amoni explained. “So we'll have some food vendors that will be there every time and a couple of artists. And then the rest will be rotating with us.”

Some businesses include Lang’s Cookies, Eats and Treats by AG and Ursula Naturals.

The indoor market opens 8 a.m. until noon every second and fourth Saturday through May. It debuts at Society 57 Jan. 23.

  • Yvonne Boose is a current corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at wnij.org.