Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Boston Event to Call for Halt of Spending Cuts



Corey Beach

The National Center on Family Homelessness

617-581-6798, Corey.Beach@familyhomelessness.org

New State Spending Cuts Threaten To

Increase Child Homelessness In Massachusetts

Advocates Will Gather This Week To Urge Continued Funding

NEWTON, Mass. (October 13, 2009): The Massachusetts state government has announced an estimated $1 billion revenue deficit at a time when federal government housing funds are nearing depletion. New state spending cuts may be coming as early as this week. With approximately 17,500 children already homeless in Massachusetts annually, an anticipated rise in home foreclosures will increase the number of children and families without homes. Further spending cuts will exacerbate this crisis.

On Friday, October 16 at 9:30am, leaders from the Massachusetts Campaign to End Child Homelessness will gather at Horizons for Homeless Children in Roxbury to urge continued state and federal support for housing and associated services. National advocate Diane Nilan of the HEAR US Learning Curve Express will join them as part of her national tour to raise awareness about homeless children and families. While here, she will also meet with Massachusetts families who are currently experiencing homelessness.

When: Friday, October 16, 2009, 9:30 AM

Where: Horizons for Homeless Children’s Edgerley Family Community Children’s Center

1705 Columbus Avenue, Roxbury, MA

Who: Representatives from the Massachusetts Campaign to End Child Homelessness;

Diane Nilan, HEAR US Learning Curve Express

Massachusetts Campaign to End Homelessness

The Massachusetts Campaign to End Child Homelessness (www.HomelessChildrenAmerica.org) is a coalition of organizations that includes The National Center on Family Homelessness (www.familyhomelessness.org), Health Care for All (www.hcfa.org), Homes for Families (www.homesforfamilies.org), Horizons for Homeless Children (www.horizonsforhomelesschildren.org), and the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless (www.mahomelessness.org).


Monday, September 7, 2009

Shining a Light on Invisible Homeless Teens in Johnson Coun(IN)ty

[Sept. 7, 2009] The last thing “Kevin” wanted was for someone to notice him. His star athlete looks, top academic record from sophomore year, and long list of friends belies his current situation—he’s homeless. He bailed on his parents after the last brutal beating from his alcohol-impaired dad. Now he’s faced with the night-to-night challenge of finding a safe place to sleep.

Kevin and area teens like him are the reason concerned individuals will gather this Wednesday, 9/9/09, in Greenwood (10:00 a.m., Community Church of Greenwood) and Franklin (4:00 p.m., High School Auditorium) with Johnson County’s Displaced Youth Task Force. They will explore this issue with Diane Nilan, president of HEAR US Inc., a national expert on homeless youth.

Task force members, knowing dozens of teens in similar plights to Kevin, are examining local solutions. With 25 years working with communities addressing homelessness, Nilan provides a spark for whatever local effort may evolve. She offers, “When concerned people in the local community gather, what seems insurmountable becomes possible.” She urges the curious and naysayers alike to attend.

Nilan, author, filmmaker and former shelter director, sold her suburban Chicago townhouse 4 years ago, and has logged over 76,000 backroads miles in her spartan RV to call attention to the plight and promise of over 1.5 million invisible homeless children and youth. Her nonprofit organization, HEAR US Inc., gives voice and visibility to homeless kids, and offers resources to help schools and communities understand and address homelessness. A clip from “My Own Four Walls,” Nilan’s award-winning documentary, will be shown.

Her 2-day visit will also provide an opportunity to film the Franklin/Johnson County area for her new HEAR US project, “Learning Curve Express,” which aims to connect invisible homeless kids with their Member of Congress. This unique venture will officially be launched in October, but her central Indiana event provides the opportunity for a preview. “Most legislators don’t understand homeless kids,” Nilan points out, “and the Learning Curve Express will bridge that gap.”

These presentations are free and open to the public. For more information contact Angie Freeman, freemana@fcsc.k12.in.us, 317-524-9335, or Keri Lyn Powers, associate@youthconnections.org,

317-738-3273 ext. 106.

# # #

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

HEAR US E-News July 2009

To get through the hardest journey we need take only one step at a time, but we must keep on stepping. --Chinese Proverb

As HEAR US begins our 5th year, we anticipate even greater challenges. But our tasks are nothing compared to those trying to cope in these tumultuous times, or those of you trying to help families and teens survive and thrive.

HEAR US is more committed than ever to give voice and visibility to homeless kids to help them and you. And with unprecedented growth of homelessness nationwide, every effort is needed to inspire a compassion epidemic in schools, communities and legislative chambers.

Thanks to our volunteer web guru Dan Riefstahl of Pixel Point Creative, we have a new newsletter design. His help is indicative of assistance HEAR US has received from several generous and talented people over the past 4 years. Thanks, Dan, and thanks to all of you!


Can You Use Some Good News? With times as tough as they are, good news is rare. This newsletter will share some positive happenings and maybe brighten your day. Please pass it on to your colleagues and friends who may need a ray of hope. (We don't share our list, nor do we bug you.)

Making the Big Time! Those familiar with the HEAR US documentary series (all on one DVD) My Own Four Walls know it’s a powerful tool to strengthen audiences’ compassion for homeless children and youth. MOFW's potential audience will soon greatly expand. HEAR US received the invitation to screen MOFW at the Paso Robles Film Festival in November! Clint Eastwood was there last year!

Not just another film festival, this one will include documentaries on the state and fate” of children and youth in this country. HEAR US is honored to be invited and looks forward to expanding MOFW's reach.

Diane will head to Paso Robles, CA after presenting at the NAEHCY Conference in Denver. (If you have never been to a NAEHCY conference, go! You’ll recharge your batteries, get a lot of good ideas, and learn ways you can do your job even better.)

HEAR USLearning Curve Express’ to Visit Communities Soon! In what promises to be the most ambitious (and grueling) trip for Diane, the HEAR US Learning Curve Express (Diane & Tillie) will head out this fall to non-urban locations across the country with 2 purposes:

  • recruit and film articulate spokespersons who know homelessness from experience—particularly those in motels and/or doubled-up with others, to give them the opportunity to...
  • inform (in person and/or via YouTube) Members of Congress and community members unfamiliar with realities facing homeless families and youth, especially those couch surfing, in motels, etc. about perils of life outside homeless shelters.

The latest disappointing vote on the definition of homeless illustrated the steep learning curve facing some legislators, bureaucrats and even advocacy groups. Homelessness comes in many forms. Community responses vary. Some have a decent safety net for some homeless families/teens, but most don’t. Invisible homeless students don’t get into school or get shifted around needlessly. And too many legislators and Americans blithely believe the latest HUD report that barely mentions the existence and plight of invisible homeless families.

Diane will map out a cross-country route, her 5th and most determined journey, relying on local community activists to connect—in person or virtually—the experts and the lawmakers. HEAR US will use YouTube and media to get word out. But she needs your help!

Do you have families staying in motels, rotating couch-to-couch, house to house? Do you have Members of Congress who need, um, remedial lessons on what homeless kids go through? If you’re interested in hosting a Learning Curve Express visit, contact Diane.

National Hunger & Homelessness Week Time to get ready! It's the week of Nov. 21st. HEAR US has excellent tools to focus on the often-ignored children and teens as well as adults:

REVIEWS WANTED! Are you among the growing number of people who have seen My Own Four Walls? Would you be interested in submitting a short (2-3 sentences max) review? We'd love to hear from you!

JULY SALE DAYS ENDING SOON! HEAR US newsletter subscribers and their friends are invited to save on orders placed in July. But July is fast coming to an end! Check our last newsletter to see how you can save.

Diane's schedule Soon Diane will be hitting the road. Check her travel schedule and explore possibilities of having the Learning Curve Express visit your community.

Inspired to give to a good cause? HEAR US needs and greatly appreciates support of all amounts. If you can donate a little or a lot, we'd be honored and we'll use it wisely! And your orders also support our work. All proceeds benefit HEAR US.

HOMELESSNESS in the NEWS HEAR US tracks and posts stories. Check it out! YIKES!

To subscribe It just takes a moment!

HEAR US Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Donations tax-deductible as law allows.
1163 E Ogden Ave., #705-329, Naperville IL 60563 630-225-5012

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

California Dreaming for Homeless Kids

[Naperville, IL, July 24, 2009] Scattered across America in backwater towns, nondescript cities and dusty rural communities are 75 young people who have had an astounding impact on millions of people nationwide. "My Own Four Walls," the acclaimed documentary chronicling these courageous homeless children and youth filmed and produced by HEAR US Inc., will be screened this fall at the prestigious Paso Robles Digital Film Festival

"This festival provides a tremendous opportunity to let faces of children and youth without homes be seen and their voices heard," exclaims Diane Nilan, whose unconventional approach to making this documentary began with selling her home and possessions in 2005. Nilan's Naperville-based nonprofit organization, HEAR US Inc., is devoted to giving voice and visibility to homeless children and youth. She's made 4 solo cross-country trips in her road-weary RV to find, film and empower invisible homeless families and teens.

As many families prepare to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, participants of the Paso Robles festival will join with organizers who created an event that is
in Paso Robles, CA.
"...deeply dedicated to shedding light in the darkness of the millions of homeless, runaway and missing children and youth in these

United States of America..."
Festival producer Benford Standley contacted Nilan, HEAR US president, with the invitation for My Own Four Walls, a 20-minute glimpse of the plight and promise of children and teens who, along with more than 1.5 million other young people in America, experienced homelessness.

Nilan ponders the November event and offers her thoughts, "My dream would be to bring the stars of this show to this festival, to honor the young people who resolutely stood up to share their poignant stories with the rest of the nation and world, and let them serve as the powerful reminder that our nation's commitment to children, the hope of our future, needs rekindling."

This intrepid RVer is making preparations for her most ambitious cross-country journey ever, an endeavor called, appropriately enough, Learning Curve Express, to inform and inspire lawmakers and the general public about invisible homelessness.


Contact Diane Nilan, 630-267-5424

Thursday, June 25, 2009

June 2009 HEAR US E-Blast

HEAR US E-Blast June 2009
view as a web page

(I'm stuck with this UGLY format--at least for this time around--for our monthly newsletter. If I get the hang of a program that I'm supposed to use, well, this newsletter might look different/better next month! Diane)

Summer--Here's Hoping... Most people welcome the end of the school year. This year, with budget crises abounding, job loss, cutbacks, and greater uncertainties face school and human service personnel just about everywhere. Families are falling into homelessness at an unprecedented rate. It may all seem bad, but it's not. Here's a story to make your day...and more from the HEAR US media collection.

Need something to celebrate in these bleak times? It's the 15th anniversary of "Charlie's Bill." If you're a McKinney-Vento liaison asking what is Charlie's Bill, well, buckaroo, here's a story for you...(excerpt from my book, Crossing the Line: Taking Steps to End Homelessness) The boy in our logo is Charlie...

Year-end Close-out SALE!! HEAR US has some overstock--and we're clearing our shelves! SAVE BIG! Stretch those grant dollars! Limit one FREE offer per order. Sale ends July 31 or as supplies last. FAX, EMAIL or SNAIL MAIL orders. Credit Cards Accepted. ORDER FORM
  • MOFW '08 DVD --reg. $40, now $10 @ with $100+ order
  • Original My Own Four Walls DVD -- FREE with every order over $100! or
  • REACH DVD--reg. $20, FREE with $200+ orders

Make MOFW work for you! The hardest working tool in your box should be My Own Four Walls. The documentaries and REACH training video (view free) on the MOFW 09 DVD can remover barriers and enlighten all kinds of audiences on McKinney-Vento homeless ed and just homelessness in general. Download (PDF) the Viewers' Guides. Besides the obvious--training educators--here's a plethora of other possible uses:
Youth groups, homeless experience events, police/fire/EMT trainings, community meetings, higher education classes, scout meetings, religious services or education classes, and more...

Sad, but we're not quitting! The May vote on the definition of homeless in the HEARTH Act didn't go well, to say the least. NAEHCY's tenacious Barbara Duffield and her intrepid team of advocates worked with a growing number of enlightened legislators, but it wasn't enough--this time.

So, to further educate lawmakers, HEAR US is planning the most ambitious cross-country tour ever, for now called the Learning Curve Express. We will need help from people across the country who believe kids without a place to call home should get the most help possible, even if they're living outside HUD's current inadequate definition of "homeless."
To keep doing what we're doing, and to do even more, we need your support. Buying our stuff helps a lot! Or join the growing number of HEAR US donors who chip in small amounts each month (or big amounts!). Please help!
More details in our next newsletter. See you soon!

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EVENTS Illinois friends--join me at the July 11th Community Restoration Economics forum in Elgin