Modest intentions of Hispanic business professionals result in spectacular successes


Carmen Jimenez is with the Reilly Elementary School student who received a coat for her dad.

In the backroom of West Town’s Output Lounge, 1758 W Grand Ave., in 2013, twenty Hispanic business men and women were in a brainstorming session about how to groom young people in the business community.

On Dec. 6, the astonishing successes started by those 20 people will be evident. A 500-member Hispanic Business Network (HBN) will convene an event that will result in smiles on the faces of hundreds of children and their families for a third holiday season. 

"We believed that providing young people an opportunity to give back to the community was a good strategy for building and strengthening our business network," explained Carmen Jimenez, HBN Co-founder. 

That belief not only grew their membership, created an annual giving program but also brought in sponsorships from Nicor and the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Other businesses incentivized employees to give to the HBN project. For example PNC Bank gave each employee a work-free paid hour to donate a toy to the HBN Toy Drive. 

In addition to the toy drive, HBN members fulfill the wishes of children whose families cannot afford extras for the holidays. In each school a social worker identified the children in need of extra help and provided a writeup about each of those children. 

To engage the children, students in the schools were asked to submit a "Dear Santa" letter. Each HBN member is tasked with sponsoring a child who was identified by the social workers. Armed with the social worker's information and the Santa letter a volunteer sets about buying the gift or gifts. 

The generosity ripple has expanded this year to three schools and a non-profit. This year's non-profit is CASA in Kane County. 

Last year there was a little girl who did not ask Santa for anything for herself. Rather, she asked for a warm coat for her dad. Her dad works outside and she wanted to make sure he would stay warm and well. She is one of five siblings. 

A friend of Output's owner, Eddie Gutierrez, not only fulfilled her wish for her dad but gave her a beautiful dress too, explained Jimenez. The smile on her face in the photo appears to say it all. 

While Output will be the site of the Chicago activity on Dec. 6, Q Bar, 8109 Cass Ave. in Darien, will be the celebration location for the toy collection in the southwestern suburbs. 

In Chicago, everyone is invited to participate in the HBN 2019 toy collection by dropping off a toy at Output Lounge the day of the 6th before 10 p.m. 

Professionals from around Chicago and surrounding suburbs will be present to contribute and donate between 6 and 10 p.m. as well has hear from Gutierrez;  Rogelio Lopez, President, Hispanic Business Network-Chicago; and  Gloria Kelley, Executive Director, CASA Kane County.



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