Stories entertain us. Stories inspire us. Stories inform us. And above all, stories bring us together. That’s why Naperville Community Television, Channel 17’s mission of “Connecting Our Community Through Shared Stories” is more vital than ever.

The professional staff captures moments in time and preserves that memory forever. Whether the story is about honoring first responders at the Commander Dan Shanower Sept. 11 Memorial; students exploring STEM through a high school robotics club; or neighbors helping out a family in need, every story shared on Channel 17 and on connects our community on a human level.

NCTV17 reaches all the cable subscribers of Naperville on Comcast, WideOpenWest! and AT&T, as well as a worldwide audience on

NCTV17, Naperville’s nonprofit television station, has faithfully served the community since 1987. What started as a traditional “Wayne’s World” cable access channel has grown into a true community-based television station, staffed by professionals in news, sports and video production. NCTV17’s Video Production Services department is one of its key sources of funding. Experienced staff members produce videos for local businesses and fellow nonprofits. The money raised goes back into creating the award-winning programming broadcast on Channel 17 and at

“NCTV17 tells stories that help Naperville residents feel more like neighbors, businesses feel like friends, and nonprofits feel like partners,” said Elizabeth Braham Spencer, executive director of NCTV17. “And ultimately, we showcase what makes Naperville a community that is a great place to live, work and serve!”

DuPage Habitat for Humanity

The DuPage Habitat for Humanity chapter was established in 1995 in order to help residents build new homes, rehab/repair existing homes for residents and make critical repairs to roofs, furnaces and other key areas of the homes of long-time, needy homeowners.

Their aim is to bring people together to build homes, communities and hope, said Sue Ward, director of development. “Our vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live.”

In fact, recently DuPage Habitat volunteers and employees have been revitalizing a neighborhood in Hanover Park by painting and making critical repairs to homes in disrepair; removing overgrown vegetation; and building up the area’s Homeowners’ Association. But, at the same time, they are building new homes on donated or purchased lots and refurbishing older homes all over the county. In fact, they are currently working four days a week to construct a 27-home townhouse community, also in Hanover Park. In addition, they offer clients “no- to low-interest” loans so that they may become homeowners for the first time.

Most of the labor on these projects is provided by volunteers. Last year 1,997 volunteers from corporations, churches and universities, as well as individuals, devoted over 35,000 hours to their efforts. Experienced volunteers taught “newbies” skills ranging from installing exterior siding and flooring, to putting up trim. More specialized work, like plumbing and electrical, is generally provided by licensed professionals at a discounted rate.

“People are our biggest asset,” Ward said. “All of our volunteers understand that they can help their neighbors and fellow suburban residents build strength, stability and self-reliance by offering them shelter.”

The Fusion Project

Girls are most vulnerable during middle school and junior high. That is when many suffer from low self esteem. They have difficulty accepting compliments, exhibit insecurity and anxiety, and often tend to live their lives on the edges of their peer group, making them perfect targets for bullies and even sex traffickers, said Michelle Jenks, founder and director of The Fusion Project.

Jenks experienced this issue herself as a young teen and later while raising her daughters. (She is the mother/stepmother of five children.) So she set out to find a way to help girls of all socio-economic levels living in Naperville, Plainfield and Oswego. That “way” became The Fusion Project, which currently operates through four schools in Oswego and one in District 204. Jenks hopes to soon expand it into the Naperville and Plainfield schools.

“We work to build these girls’ self-esteem by letting them know that they are worthy and helping them identify what they are good at,” Jenks said.

“So many girls are bullied during junior high and it is terribly damaging to their self-esteem,” she continued. “Some even turn to alcohol and drugs – or even suicide – to cover up that pain.”

Sex-trafficking is also a part of the equation. Often older peers recruit the girls at parties or school. Some are kidnapped and taken from the area, but others are convinced to regularly sneak out of school in order to meet customers and are told that if they talk about it, their family members will be killed, Jenks stated.

Girls enrolled in The Fusion Project meet once a week after school for fun, entertaining and enlightening programs. Speakers about specific topics are invited to make presentations and a one-week camp is offered each summer.