Shake It Up

When Sam Suleiman took the first step into changing his lifestyle and health habits, he never thought it would lead him to becoming part owner of a nutrition bar. He had spent the last decade working in the seafood industry—and was drinking and smoking and had some weight to lose. He began researching different methods of weight loss and came across a protein shake store that one of his friends owns in Indiana. “I lost 46 pounds and never felt like I lost the weight too quickly or lost vitamins and muscle,” Suleiman says.

He was hooked. He then spent a lot of time studying how protein shakes can help with weight loss and gain, and frequently visited Nutrition Hub, a bar serving shakes, smoothie bowls, and teas in Frankfort. He was inspired to open up a Nutrition Hub of his own in his hometown of New Lenox in November 2019, and just opened up the doors to the downtown Naperville location in September.

Naperville’s Nutrition Hub (26 W. Jefferson Ave., 815.919.1660, is in the former Marcus space next to Everdine’s Grilled Cheese Co., and Suleiman has high hopes of improving the nutrition habits of the Naperville community. “My family visits Naperville all the time, so when I saw the empty space I took it without even thinking,” Suleiman says. “I know how great downtown Naperville is. I called the landlord and asked to see the space and I signed the lease right there. I couldn’t resist.”

With six locations around the Chicago area and Indiana, Nutrition Hub offers complimentary one-on-one nutrition coaching in addition to protein shakes, teas, iced coffee, aloe vera shots, protein bowls like acai berry, and oatmeal. The shakes, which can be made and purchased in the store each day—or bought as protein powder with recipes to make at home—serve as the first step in Nutrition Hub’s coaching program. For customers wanting to lose or gain weight, Suleiman’s team will coach them through challenges, ranging from three days to one month, with meal plans, challenges, workout plans, and weigh-ins.

Here’s how it works: Clients are given a detailed meal plan with the amount of shakes recommended per day, meal and snack ideas, and at-home workouts tailored to the client’s age and type of exercise they are interested in. The team keeps clients accountable by having them come in for weekly weigh-ins and measurements, and by editing the meal and workout plan based on each week’s goals and how many days the client wants to spend on the challenge.

The menu is primarily made up of protein shakes meant to be breakfast and lunch replacements or a quick snack. The shakes can be purchased on their own, or paired with an aloe vera shot to aid digestion and the absorption of nutrients, and an energy and metabolism boosting sugar-free tea to create a meal ($7.50–$9.50). Customers have a choice between basic, boosted, loaded, and mega energy levels that determine the amount of caffeine, ranging from 45 to 180 milligrams, and over 100 shake flavors—optional add ons include anti-aging collagen, probiotics, and fat burner. The shake flavors—split into categories like Peanut Butter Boss, Candy Cravers, and Fruit Lovers—are healthier than their names suggest, with 20 to 28 grams of protein, 200 to 250 calories, 10 to 14 grams of sugar, and 15 to 18 grams of carbs. They’re safe for all ages and pregnant women and can be made with regular, dairy free, or whey protein powder.

Whether you want an afternoon pick-me-up while spending the day shopping in downtown Naperville (masked up, of course), are looking for a new protein powder for your breakfast shakes, or want to be coached through a weight loss or gain challenge, Suleiman’s team of fitness lovers will tailor your visit and guide you to be your best self.

Photos courtesy Nutrition Hub

Tent Tribute

Regularly sleeping inside tents, boxes, and cars is a heartbreaking reality for 1,000 DuPage County residents—a challenge that Bridge Communities works to solve every day. Each fall the Glen Ellyn-based social service agency shines a light on homelessness through its Sleep Out Saturday program—but like everything else in 2020, the annual event has been reimagined.

The pandemic has created millions of job losses, and with that comes food and shelter insecurity. Bridge Communities has never seen such a number of calls to its help line, and continues to place families into apartments as it can. At the same time, employed parents with kids at home due to shelter-in-place situations struggle to find meaningful and safe activities for their families. So Bridge Communities is offering an online SOS toolkit that includes homelessness facts, a sample schedule, cold weather and indoor sleep-out tips, and fundraising messaging.

Funds are raised to support the homeless while others experience what it’s like first-hand to sleep outside. A livestream will connect participants on November 7, but groups and families can register at to participate anytime between October 9 and December 5.

Photo courtesy Bridge Communities

Day on the Links

The Edward Foundation raised $403,000 at its 27th annual Charity Golf Tournament on August 31 at Cog Hill Golf and Country Club in Palos Park—a historic public club with four challenging courses, including the storied shot-maker Dubsdread. More than 300 golfers donated funds through sponsorships, donations, raffles, and games, including a Million Dollar Shoot Out where three golfers were randomly selected to attempt a hole in one for $1 million. ABC-7’s sports anchor and reporter Dionne Miller was the event’s celebrity guest.

After enjoying unlimited food and drinks on the courses, the winning team on Cog Hill’s Dubsdread course included Andrew Baasen, Justin Kochen, Teresa McDaniel, and Charles Glaser. The winning team on Cog Hill’s Course No. 1 included Steve Campanella, Kevin Kethcart, Mike Minetti, and Steve Moudry.

All proceeds from the golf outing and gala this year will be directed to Edward Foundation’s COVID-19 Relief Fund, which supports financial needs due to the pandemic—including personal protective equipment and screening stations to keep patients, physicians, and staff safe.

Photos courtesy Edward Foundation

Hope in a Critical Time

Hope’s Front Door in Downers Grove provides emergency assistance to some of the most vulnerable members of our community. This year, as the nonprofit celebrates its 20th anniversary, the need for its services is greater than ever.

Hope’s Front Door often acts as a first responder to area residents facing a financial or medical crisis. When clients first arrive at Hope’s Front Door, many are either underemployed, unemployed, homeless, disabled, or senior citizens in need of support. Depending on their needs, clients receive food and transportation vouchers, help with acquiring prescription medication, and access to vision care and oral health providers.

Once their immediate needs are met, clients are able to take advantage of the nonprofit’s education and self-sufficiency programs. “We help people move out of a crisis-to-crisis existence by providing tools and resources that empower them to make positive, long-lasting changes for themselves and their families,” explains executive director Janell Robinson. Clients can take advantage of financial literacy programs, work with a career counselor, and learn about making healthy lifestyle choices.

COVID’s Impact

Like many nonprofits, COVID-19 has severely impacted the organization. “We’ve had to make some real changes in the way we provide services to maintain social distancing. Now, instead of meeting face-to-face, we talk with clients over the phone and offer onsite distribution for goods and vouchers,” Robinson explains. They also had to adjust to working with fewer volunteers.

Once the $600 unemployment benefit ended, visits to Hope’s Front Door increased dramatically. “Generally we help 5,600 individuals and children throughout DuPage County a year. Based on what we saw during the 2008 recession, we conservatively expect to see a 30 to 35 percent increase within the next 12 to 18 months,” Robinson points out. Once the moratorium on evictions ends and people lose their unemployment benefits, she expects the numbers to rise even higher. “It’s almost a perfect storm. We’re concerned it will be a really challenging fall and winter.”
The increasing number of new clients also concerns Robinson. “We are seeing more and more folks who are new to us becoming financially insecure,” she states. Based on the 2008 recession, Robinson projects they could see up to 40 new households each month. She points out that for some people, it could be 24 months before they truly get back to where they were before COVID. Regardless, Robinson remains hopeful the government will offer more financial assistance to those in need.

“People often feel disconnected and invisible during a financial crisis. It’s disheartening that we can’t meet face-to-face with people, but were able to talk with them on the phone and just listen,” she explains. “Our mission is to help people weather these types of storms, whether it’s due to a person crisis, a recession, or a pandemic. Having a listening ear is just as important as financial and educational assistance.”

Robinson has worked at the Downers Grove nonprofit for the past 18 years.
“I love what I do and I am tremendously proud and honored that folks really trust us to share their story. We must be doing something right if folks feel comfortable telling us what’s going on in their lives. And at the same time they also call and tell us when they’ve been successful because they want us to know they’re doing well. This crisis has impacted everyone, regardless of income or education. If we keep the mindset that we’re in this together as a community, I don’t think it’s beyond us to be able to help those who are struggling as a result of the pandemic.”


Hope’s Front Door will host a virtual Prohibition Gala on October 24. In honor of its 20th anniversary, every dollar raised will be matched by a donor. Information about the event can be found at

Photo courtesy Hope’s Front Door

Books | October 2020


Santa Monica
By Cassidy Lucas (Harper Perennial)
The sun-kissed, wealthy residents of Santa Monica seem to inhabit real-life California dreams. But when fitness coach Zack Doheny is found dead on the floor of his gym, the tragedy shocks the elite community, especially those who’d worked with the charismatic trainer. As the narrative flashes back, it becomes clear things in this coastal paradise are not as glittering as they seem.
Leave the World Behind
By Rumaan Alam (Ecco)
A family travels to a remote corner of Long Island expecting a quiet vacation from New York City. Late one night, the owners of the rental home arrive in a panic with news that a sudden blackout has swept the city. But in this rural area—with the TV and internet now down, and no cellphone service—it’s hard to know what to believe.


Big Macs & Burgundy
By Vanessa Price and Adam Laukhuf (Abrams)
Wine pro Vanessa Price explains how to create your own pairings while proving you don’t necessarily need fancy foods to unlock the joys of wine. Price offers delightfully bold wine and food pairings alongside hilarious tales from her own unlikely journey as a Kentucky girl making it in the Big Apple and in the wine business.
Nothing Much Happens
By Kathryn Nicolai (Penguin)
Whether you struggle to fall sleep, wake up in the middle of the night, or are anxious as you move through the day, Nicolai offers bedtime stories as a healthy way to ease the mind before bed. Using her experience as a meditation and yoga teacher, Nicolai creates a world rich in sensory experience for you to slip into, quietly teaching mindfulness and self-compassion.

From fireworks to Forever

Summer flings fizzle out for most, but not for Aurora residents Cathy Diaz and Xavier Garcia, both 27. They had briefly crossed paths as sophomores at Waubonsie Valley High School before Garcia transferred to Naperville North. Years later, they met at a mutual friend’s Fourth of July barbecue, and it wasn’t long before their summer romance blossomed into a serious relationship.

Garcia, a writer, and Diaz, a service coordinator at Lisle nonprofit DayOne PACT, bonded over their shared love of gaming and spent their early dates playing Mario Kart and other Nintendo 64 faves from their childhood. “Instead of being forced to stare at each other across a table, [our conversation] flowed naturally, and that’s how we’ve been ever since,” Garcia says. “We can do nothing together, we can do anything together, and it’ll lead into a conversation or complete silence and we will both be comfortable throughout.”

After they discussed marriage as their next step, Diaz predicted a summertime proposal on their anniversary in 2019. So when Garcia proposed months earlier in January, she was caught completely off-guard. Garcia brought Diaz to her family’s church, Our Lady of Mercy in Aurora, under the guise of picking up her mother, and then popped the question right in the center aisle. “I let her walk in front of me and told her to stop and turn around and I was on one knee,” Garcia says.

And so, they planned to return to the church to marry on July 3, 2020. “We had a family friend offer their beautiful house and backyard in Oswego [for the reception],” Diaz says. “We thought about it, but eventually said no because we didn’t want to impose.” Instead, they fell in love with Elements at Water Street in Naperville and booked a 100-person reception. But when forced to cancel due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they had to make some tough decisions.

“We had a conversation about what is important to us. It’s getting married in our church. As long as it’s on July 3, we are getting married, even if it’s just the two of us and our parents,” Garcia says. “The party part was just extra. We had set our hearts on not doing anything [for a reception] because it just wasn’t worth the headache.”

When the state’s reopening plan began to allow small gatherings, they decided to plan an intimate reception for 30 with about a month to spare. Luckily, their friends’ offer to host in their backyard was still on the table. Their DJ was still available, and their florist reworked her designs to suit a casual outdoor soiree. Diaz booked a taco bar, ordered cupcakes, and mined her forgotten “Backyard Wedding” Pinterest board for decor ideas. “It was everything I’ve ever wanted and ever imagined for my wedding, even though we had other plans,” she says.


Venue Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church, Aurora; private residence, Oswego
Bride’s attire Maggie Sottero gown from Wolsfelt’s Bridal, Aurora
Bride’s accessories Badgley Mischka shoes from Macy’s; Olive + Piper earrings; headband from A Goddess Divine on
Hair and makeup Sophia Bella Bridal
Bridesmaids’ dresses Jasmine Galleria, Lombard
Groom’s and groomsmen’s attire The Black Tux
Catering Carmen Macho/Machos Tacos, Aurora
Cake Sweet Temptations Dessert Company, Yorkville
Florist Jasmine Galleria, Lombard
Entertainment DJ Jesse El Grandote
Rings Hers from Brilliant Earth; his from Jens Hansen

Photos by Candace Sims Photography