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,, 317-524-9335, or Keri Lyn Powers,,

317-738-3273 ext. 106.

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