KANKAKEE, ILLINOIS — Out of a city with one of the highest crime rates in the state of Illinois there is an eleven-year old girl trying to empower residents with the message that when life gives you lemons, make lemonade, literally.
Eleven-year-old Hayli Martenez and her mother, Iva Martenez, setup a lemonade stand at 1042 E. Court St. in Kankakee, Illinois to try to make some money for her family and, save so Hayli could one day go to college.
The city of Kankakee had a major problem with that and ordered her to shut down her stand. So she came to Springfield with a bill to legalize children’s lemonade stands and protect them from government regulation. She even attracted the attention of the grandson of a billionaire.
In June, two stories were published about the Martenezes — one about the historic designation, the other about the stand. After that, local officials, including from the city of Kankakee and the county health department, warned the Martenezes the lemonade state violated code.
On June 20, the city ordered the Martenezes to vacate the property, saying it was “unfit for human habitation” because of the lack of water and sewer service. The Martenez house had been without sewer and water service since April. The matter is in litigation.
Chicago’s CBS affiliate followed up and interviewed the Martenezes. The station’s piece attracted a lot of social media attention, including from Bill Pulte, grandson of Pulte Homes founder and billionaire William Pulte.
Pulte, who describes himself as a philanthropist on Twitter, retweeted the TV station’s story, writing, “Can someone find this girl so we can help her and her mom?” He has nearly a quarter million followers.
Several people, including a representative of lemonade-maker Country Time, have reached out to the Daily Journal for ways to help the Martenezes. In June, a GoFundMe page was set up for the family to pay back taxes and to restore and repair their home, The Daniel Paddock House, which the Kankakee County Board recently designated a historic landmark.
“I am ready to make a change for little girls and little boys who have lemonade stands. I know that everyone’s sick and tired of us getting shut down, and it’s time to make a change,” Hayli told senators.
SB 3459 passed the Senate Public Health Committee.