Thursday, September 18, 2008

Honoring Two DuPage Legislators for Work with Homeless Families

PRESS RELEASE For Immediate Release Contact Diane Nilan 630-267-5424

[Naperville, Sept. 18, 2008] Retired State Representative Mary Lou Cowlishaw (R-Naperville) teamed up with Congresswoman Judy Biggert (R-IL-13) to remove barriers often keeping homeless children from school. For their extensive efforts both women will be honored by HEAR US, Diane Nilan’s unique nonprofit organization that gives voice and visibility to homeless children and youth. They will be recognized on October 4th at the HEAR US “Bene-Feast” fund raising dinner.

The Bene-Feast will feature Tri-Cities’ Chef Francois and Betsy Sanchez’s signature dish, paella, and specially made accompanying dishes. Bethlehem Lutheran Church in St. Charles is donating use of their hall for the event which will attract diners from as far away as Chicago. Local merchants from the Tri-Cities, Aurora, and Naperville have donated sizable raffle prizes. “We are delighted to pay homage to the two women who have for years pursued opportunities for homeless children,” exclaims Diane Nilan.

HEAR US ( is the Naperville-based national nonprofit that gives voice and visibility to homeless children and youth. Diane Nilan, a longtime Fox Valley advocate for homeless adults and children and former shelter director at Hesed House, started this unique organization over 3 years ago as a means to advocate for policies and actions to alleviate homelessness among families and teens. She sold her Aurora townhouse and purchased an RV which has served as her home and office as she traveled over 65,000 miles of typically backroads seeking out young homeless spokespersons.

Nilan points to some significant successes already under HEAR US’ belt: winning a major national award for “My Own Four Walls,” her documentary featuring over 75 homeless children and teens from non-urban parts of the country, produced by Northern Illinois University media professor Dr. Laura Vazquez; passage of a long-sought federal law to remove barriers to college for homeless unaccompanied teens; and testifying to Congress, staving off (for now) attempts to limit federal help for homeless families.

Mayor George Pradel of Naperville will stand in for Mrs. Cowlishaw who is unable to attend the event. He’s encouraging leadership from the entire DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference to attend.

HEAR US doesn’t typically qualify for grants because it does not provide direct service, so Nilan and her Fox Valley board rely on special events, like the Bene-Feast, as well as sales of My Own Four Walls DVD and tax-deductible donations to continue the HEAR US mission.
Rising gas costs and a troubled economy loom as big concerns, but Nilan reflects, “Families in crisis face worse troubles each day. We’ve increased our support base because we’ve successfully focused on core issues and policies that could reduce homelessness nationwide. Having such superb leadership on the critical issue of homeless kids being able to get into school has made all the difference for countless children. HEAR US is committed to find resources to continue our mission.”

For tickets or more information, contact Nilan at 630/225-5012,
# # #

No comments: