Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Award Winning Film Maker to Show As yet Unreleased Film at Dickinson College

Press Release
For Immediate Release
Contact: Pat LaMarche
717.249.2200 Cell 207.671.0190

Award Winning Film Maker to Show As yet Unreleased Film at Dickinson College

Documentary Highlighting the Lives of Homeless Families to Debut in Carlisle, PA

Award winning filmmaker, author and homeless advocate, Diane Nilan will be visiting Cumberland County Pennsylvania this week as part of her nationwide tour promoting the needs of homeless children and their families. Nilan is also the founder and director of HEAR US, a national advocacy group for homeless kids. Learn more at

Five years ago Nilan ventured out of suburban Chicago on what she thought would be a six month cross country trip to gather film footage of our nation’s homeless youth in order to produce her now critically acclaimed documentary, My Own Four Walls. Five years later she is still traveling the 48 contiguous United States, testifying before Congress, and working to end homelessness among the nation’s most precious and vulnerable population, homeless kids. Her film is a tool used by schools and agencies across the U.S. to acquaint communities and educators with what life is like for so many who live below the poverty line and below the radar.

The DVD film jacket reminds us that “More than 1.5 million children, families and youth are homeless in America today. Not since the great depression have we seen so many homeless families on the streets of communities of all sizes and compositions.”

And for kids with parents in jail, the film also includes a training video for incarcerated parents, their children’s caregivers, law enforcement personnel, human service providers and educators to help navigate the sketchy world in which these children live.

Nilan’s book, Crossing the Line: Taking Steps to End Homelessness, is an autobiographical expose giving vividly detailed accounts of the lives of the homeless folks that Nilan encountered in her nearly 20 years as a homeless shelter director and homeless advocate.

Wendell Hollinger, President of Safe Harbour, Cumberland County’s largest homeless shelter and host to Nilan’s visit commented after reading Nilan’s book, “If concerned folks don’t read another word of another book, they must read pages 32 and 33 of Diane’s book. She has detailed the most concise and accurate listing I’ve ever seen of the causes of homelessness in our country. We are very excited that Diane has come to Carlisle to give us a sneak preview of her newest documentary.”

Susannah Bartlow, Director of Women’s Studies at Dickinson College said, “We are honored but not surprised that Nilan has chosen Cumberland County as a place to stop along her journey to eradicate homelessness and lead a community wide discussion. The communities of Cumberland County have long supported the needs of the disadvantaged here among us.” Bartlow continued, “Dickinson is proud to provide the necessary space for this discussion. Dickinson hosts the ‘Night Without a Home’ every November during national hunger and homelessness week: a sleep out featuring area grade school children which raises money to benefit Safe Harbour. We are excited to be a part of bringing this courageous woman to our community.”

Nilan’s new documentary, On The Edge, will be shown Monday April 12th at 6:30 pm in Dickinson’s Denny Hall. Denny Hall is located at the corner of High and West streets. The community is invited to attend and invited to stay after the 68 minute documentary to join in a discussion of the film as well as a discussion of the issues of homelessness and poverty.
Diane Nilan will be joined by area homelessness advocates as well as Carlisle High School Senior, TJ Rivera, a homeless youth who has lived many years homeless and spent nearly a year living in a store room using boxes for furniture and trying to finish school.

TJ will discuss the difficult road he traveled getting him where he is today, enrolled as he is now at Carlisle High School within months of graduating. TJ hopes his next step is College. A current resident of Safe Harbour, TJ is thriving. “I doubted I’d be this close many times over the last few years, but I never stopped hoping I’d make it. It says on one of my blogs ‘you are the architect of your destiny’ and I kept that in mind and just didn’t give up.”

It will be an emotional moment when he meets Nilan this week. Among the many accomplishments Nilan has to her credit, co-writing the landmark legislation that mandated schools accept homeless children is one of her greatest. And TJ’s excited to meet the woman who put his educational needs ahead of her own comfort.

Diane Nilan is available for interviews prior to the event on Monday the 12th. Members of the press who would like to meet with her and see or travel with her in the RV she has called home during her five year struggle to help the nation’s poorest children is asked to contact Safe Harbour’s Pat LaMarche who will be handling her schedule while she’s in town.


Contact: Pat LaMarche 207.671.0190 717.249.2200 work