Edwin _big smile

Edwin Mendez

Esperanza Community Services

Carrissia is a 33-year-old woman who has been part of the Rimland family for 14 years. When she is not busy working at her day training program, she enjoys participating in track and field with Special Olympics, planning for her annual Florida and California vacation, shopping, and getting her hair done. Her favorite pastime of all is cooking, and she has been creating meals for herself and her housemates for more than 11 years. In addition to helping with menu planning, Carrissia shops for ingredients and then creates an array of multi-step dishes. Though she has many favorites, there’s one dish she prefers to all of them: her signature stir-fry.



Chef Aaron McKay

Aaron McKay began his culinary journey working at various restaurants across Chicago, previously holding kitchen roles at Moto, Le Lan, Schwa and NoMI. He most recently spent time working as a corporate executive chef at Hyatt Hotels and as executive chef at Mercat a la Planxa and Blackstone Hotel before his current role. Now as an executive chef, McKay brings vast culinary experience to his role at Filini serving authentic, seasonal Italian cuisine. He prides himself on gathering the freshest and highest quality ingredients, and preparing them in a way that make the ingredients truly shine on the plate.

About Esperanza Community Services

Esperanza Community Services is an inclusive nonprofit organization where children and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities, as well as behavior needs, are supported to reach their full potential. Its mission is accomplished through programs delivered at our campus in West Town and programs throughout Chicago that serve nearly 250 individuals every year. To learn more about Esperanza and ways to help keep its doors open, please visit  and its programs or to make a donation, visit www.esperanzacommunity.org or find them on Twitter at @ECSinChicago and Instagram at @esperanzacommunity.