Thursday, February 25, 2010

George Winston's Guitar Strums Up Support for Homeless Kids

When George Winston comes to Naperville on March 28th, his performance will give a big boost to HEAR US’ efforts to give voice and visibility to homeless families and teens across America. This nonprofit’s new documentary, “On the Edge,” offers a dramatic behind-the-scenes look at shattered relationships, natural disasters, and systemic shortcomings that disintegrate stability for millions of children, teens and families living in homelessness.
George Winston will perform a benefit solo guitar concert on Sunday, March 28, 7:30 p.m., at St. Timothy Lutheran Church, 1313 N Mill Street. Suggested donation is $20, all directed to HEAR US, a Naperville-based nonprofit organization that works to address family and teen homelessness nationwide. People’s Resource Center will also benefit by donations of nonperishable food by the audience. This is Winston’s second such appearance for these organizations.
The current work of HEAR US centers around a powerful documentary on family and teen homelessness, “On the Edge,” (working title) that lets the true experts, those experiencing loss of their homes, share their stories. HEAR US president and founder Diane Nilan, former longtime PADS shelter director at Hesed House, has teamed up with Dr. Laura Vazquez, documentary expert from Northern Illinois University, to film and produce this poignant look at how women cope with the loss of housing and stability.
Since pulling out of Naperville in November 2005, Nilan has been on the road in her RV, now her home and office. She filmed, and Vazquez produced, the nationally-acclaimed documentary series, “My Own Four Walls,” children talking about homelessness and school. “This first film paved the way for ‘On the Edge,’” Nilan states. “The compelling stories of families I met in 2006 needed to be told. Laura’s enthusiastic willingness to spearhead this ambitious project brought it to fruition.” Vazquez took a sabbatical and has spent long hours, collaborating with Nilan, editing this hour-long film.
What remains for “On the Edge” is final tweaking to gain attention for national screening, according to Nilan, who has been showing rough cuts to rave reviews as she’s traveled cross-country since early November. Technical fine-tuning costs money, which HEAR US hopes will materialize because of the concert.
The Nilan-Vazquez video team has another project in the works, a short film depicting the soaring number of homeless babies and toddlers, estimated over 40% of more than 1.5 million homeless children in America. The harm to a child’s health and development greatly impairs chances for a self-sustaining adulthood according to early childhood experts working with HEAR US on this project, including students and staff at Chicago’s Erikson Institute, the nation’s premiere child development institution.
 “Every note that George plays will mean a tremendous amount of support for our efforts and for the well-being of millions of kids,” states the somewhat road-weary Nilan, concerned about the poverty and housing needs of millions of families, including hundreds in affluent DuPage County. “This can be a great way to help others while helping this community.” # # #