Friday, March 12, 2010

Events to Support HEAR US Giving Voice-Visibility to Homeless Families

Homeless parents and children belong on the big screen, believes Diane Nilan, president of Naperville-based HEAR US Inc., and she aims to make it happen much like she did with “My Own Four Walls,” an award-winning documentary featuring homeless children and youth—with support from people of the Fox Valley. Two upcoming events will raise awareness and funds to support HEAR US 'efforts to help homeless families and youth:

•    Sunday, March 28th, 7:30 p.m. at St. Timothy Lutheran Church in Naperville, acclaimed musician George Winston will perform a solo guitar concert, with all proceeds benefiting HEAR US. Suggested donation is $20. Tickets and information are available through the HEAR US website, Nonperishable food will be collected for People’s Resource Center.
•    Wednesday, April 21st, 7:00 p.m. at Annunciation Church gymnasium in Aurora, HEAR US joins with Mutual Ground, the Fox Valley agency for women experiencing domestic violence, for a screening of the powerful documentary, “on the edge,” a compelling look at seven women’s experiences of homelessness, violence, renewal and vulnerability (68-min).

“on the edge,” reflects a 4-year effort by Nilan and Dr. Laura Vazquez, documentary professor at Northern Illinois University.  Vazquez produced the poignant documentary filmed by Nilan on her first cross-country tour, “My Own Four Walls.” “These projects are literally life-changing,” emphasizes Nilan, “because they shine a light on a tremendously ignored reality across this country, including DuPage County.”

Greater awareness within the nation’s public schools remove barriers for over1 million homeless students. DuPage legislators (ret.) State Rep. Mary Lou Cowlishaw and Congresswoman Judy Biggert championed these legislative efforts.

On Nilan’s 5th nationwide trek in her modest RV which serves as her home and office, with over 90,000 miles of mostly backroads solo travel, and dozens of years working on behalf of homeless families and adults, she continues to challenge communities and policymakers to create a compassion epidemic to develop community solutions to this soaring problem.

HEAR US, the nonprofit, gets few grants, relying instead on donations, special events, and sales of HEAR US books and videos. “That’s why these Fox Valley events are so critical,” stresses Nilan. “We have vital tools that can really make a difference in the lives of millions of desperate families and teens.” Completing the production of “on the edge” and funding a new film on homeless toddlers are the two funding goals for these HEAR US events, needing an estimated $25,000.

Before Nilan arrives in the Fox Valley, she’ll stop in D.C. to visit Congresswoman Judy Biggert, who has introduced comprehensive legislation to improve homeless students’ educational opportunities. Nilan and Biggert, an uncharacteristic duo, can point to a string of impressive legislative successes. Greatly reducing family homelessness remains as elusive as an Oscar.

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