Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Gas Prize Opens New Doors for Homelessness Awareness

[Naperville, IL, Sept. 12, 2012] Last December, outside the Naperville Citgo station on Hillside and Washington, HEAR US president Diane Nilan gassed up her motor home and sped to a Congressional hearing on child homelessness organized by Congresswoman Judy Biggert in Washington.

Nilan's gas was sort of on the house. Her one-woman nonprofit organization, with its small board, pulled off the improbable victory in Citgo's Fueling Good contest, winning $5,000 in gas cards, among a dozen winners out of over 700 agencies nationwide. On 9/20 she heads to Houston, Citgo's national headquarters, to personally thank them, sharing her videos and message about invisible homeless families and youth with Citgo employees.

This is Nilan's 8th year of backroads cross-country travel, "giving voice and visibility to homeless children and youth." Her 150,000 mostly backroads miles have given her opportunity to film documentaries and conduct presentations to a variety of audiences from Congress to California. The film she produced, on the edge: Family Homelessness in America,  aired on PBS. My Own Four Walls, her first film, continues to inspire educators, agency staff and the public about invisible homeless kids.

In December's race to DC, she stopped and picked up an 11-year-old boy, Rumi, and his mother at the Safe Harbour shelter in Carlisle, PA. This articulate child testified to Mrs. Biggert's committee, earning 2 appearances on CNN with Nilan. He shared the heartache he and his mother experienced as they've tumbled from one place to another following an outburst of violence from his father.

Citgo is promoting their Fall 2012 Fueling Good contest. On their website is a 90-second promo video featuring HEAR US. "This company has grasped the somewhat illusive concept of ripple effect," observes Nilan. "They've connected the dots between supporting the work of a nonprofit organization like HEAR US, which rarely gets grant funding, and the work that we do on awareness-raising."

Validated, she'll use the remaining gas cards to continue her mission of making sure homeless kids are not forgotten. Funding her unconventional effort continues to be a challenge. To donate on the secure HEAR US website, http://hearus.us/about-us/donate.html.
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