Spring Newsletter 2019

Agustín’s Story

Agustín owns Airos Electronics, a small shop that specializes in electronic repairs. “My customers tell me that if I can’t fix it, it can’t be fixed.”

After immigrating to the United States to study electronics, Agustín got his associates degree in computer science at Wilbur Wright College during the 1980s. After graduation, he knew he wanted to fix electronics. While working part time at a grocery store, Agustín worked as an unpaid apprentice at a similar repair shop. “I learned a lot working there, but after a while I said that they had to start paying me,” he laughed.

After only a few years working for a local repair shop he knew he wanted to start his own business. After buying an abandoned storefront in Little Village, Agustín began repairing radios, stereos and TVs.

After coming to Onward House to learn how to use Photoshop, Agustín came back to learn even more about computers.

“Now I use excel to manage my inventory, before I had to write everything down and it took much longer.”

Agustín is seeing more business now that people are seeing the value in reliable, vintage electronics. “People have an attachment to these things. A man came in and paid me to repair his TV because it was from his son, even though he could have gotten a better one he wanted this one repaired.”

“My professor, Mauricio, has helped a lot” and with the help of Onward’s eCommerce class, Agustín has started repairing computers, tablets and even smartphones. He also was able to redesign his website with an easily customizable WordPress template.

With the new website and word of mouth Agustín has seen a 10-15% increase in customers. “I think that eventually I’ll need someone to help, maybe I’ll get some interns and pass on some of this knowledge.”

Onward house Golf Outing 2019

Thank You Notes

Belmont Cragin has one of the largest populations of on English Speakers, and many report less than a high school education. One of Onward House’s goals is to encourage participants to further their education through GED and ESL classes in partnership with Wright College’s bridge programs. Onward House takes participants on a field trip to Wright College to introduce them to opportunities to register for college credit courses, obtain student identification cards and tour the facilities. This allows participants to see themselves in a higher learning environment and obtain information on how to pursue additional educational options.

I am Salvadorian. I came to USA searching for better opportunities for my son’s education, because we are facing the challenge of applying for him to go college.

I will be able to reach that goal only if I learn English, and to be honest I feel comfortable in this facility and I feel that (even) going slow I am learning.

Thanks for this help that you all give us and helping us in moving forward.

I came to Chicago in November 2017. My arrival to this country was because my island of Puerto Rico after having survived the havoc of hurricane Maria.

Me, my wife, and my kids came to this country to see if we could improve our economic position. I learnt about the ESL course through a friend, his wife has been taking classes [at Onward House]. Later, my wife and I enrolled in this course to learn more English and thus achieve a better job and a better salary.

Despite the circumstances, this experience of taking English classes has been the best that has happened to me, because I feel that I have learned more, and the teachers Marta and Rebeca are excellent teachers, very professional and they teach very well.

Today I feel very grateful for the opportunity that this place offers me, to be able to take English classes for free.


Sceneworks Pilot Program at Onward House

Our friends at Poverty Alleviation Chicago are piloting their new program, Sceneworks with the School Age program at Onward House.

This summer, students will participate in an 8 week program that is designed to help children gain confidence and self-esteem through improv-based activities. The program will be supported by a licensed social worker who will be available for the program participants. Poverty Alleviation Chicago has identified Emily Worden Candini to lead the first program in Chicago, and expand it to LA in the fall of 2019.

“We are super excited to see this program come to life. Improv can help a person become comfortable in uncertain situations, and we think the students at Onward House will come out of this program with more confidence and communication skills, “ said Heather Whinna, Executive Director at Poverty Alleviation Chicago.

This spring we are remembering our former Development Coordinator, Melissa Tracy.
Melissa was full of life, always smiling, ambitious, and wanted to achieve big things. She got along with everyone, and everyone on staff loved her. She is fondly remembered for taking the time to organize staff appreciation events like Pączki Day and ice cream socials.
Onward House is better for having known Melissa, and we send condolences to her family and friends.

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