Thursday, April 26, 2012

New Film Highlights Needs of Desperate Littlest Nomads

[April 26, 2012, Naperville, IL] Crying in the corner of a church hall, the baby makes known her need for clean diapers and a bottle. Meeting that demand depends on the beleaguered parent’s budgetary struggles and the shelter’s fluctuating supply.

Hunger and hygiene are only two unmet needs facing hundreds of “littlest nomads,” homeless babies and toddlers, in affluent DuPage County. With infancy the most critical stage of human development, homelessness can ravage the future of these vulnerable babies.  This detrimental but preventable experience can be alleviated with greater awareness.

HEAR US Inc., a Naperville-based nonprofit giving voice and visibility to homeless children, will shed light on this invisible issue at a national premiere screening of their new film, Littlest Nomads, on Thursday, May 10th, 7 p.m., at Meiley Swallow Hall, 31 S. Ellsworth St., North Central College in Naperville, as part of Film Central, NCC Professor Richard Guzman’s effort to highlight locally produced, socially significant media. 

The event is open to the public, students $3, public $5. All proceeds go to HEAR US. Donations of diapers, wipes, formula and baby food will be accepted and distributed to DuPage programs serving families with homeless babies. (PDF flier of the event)

Littlest Nomads, filmed and produced by HEAR US president Diane Nilan, with technical support from Dr. Laura Vazquez of Northern Illinois University, is narrated by Roseanne Tellez, WBBM-TV newscaster. Sarah Benjamin, a national homeless infant-family expert, collaborated on this project. This short film highlights both the plight of Littlest Nomads and offers solutions to ease their developmental trauma. 
Littlest Nomads will be available (mid-May) on the HEAR US film collection My Own Four Walls  (Order DVD, $40 +s/h), Nilan’s acclaimed first documentary featuring homeless children and youth sharing their views of homelessness.  Littlest Nomads is appropriate for educators, child care professionals, shelter volunteers and persons interested in learning more about homelessness.
For more information, 630/225-5012, or

# # #

Monday, April 2, 2012

Stereotype-Buster Campaign: Final Push To Get “on the edge” Documentary On PBS Mother’s Day

[Naperville, IL, April 2, 2012] Women. Kids. Not stereotypical images of homeless persons, but a new release of a powerful documentary, on the edge: Family Homelessness in America, says otherwise. And if the film’s creators have their way, their award-winning creation will hit PBS affiliates’ airwaves, crumbling stereotypes about this growing national crisis on Mother’s Day.

“Until this nation recognizes this tragic, avoidable catastrophe has shattered countless women and kids’ lives,” asserts HEAR US Inc. president Diane Nilan and producer of the film, “we will continue to lose them to the streets, a lamentable and preventable outcome.” Nilan, national organizer of this grassroots effort,  considers this the most important campaign of her nonprofit’s history. She is counting on a strong reaction to this film to create a much-needed paradigm shift in this nation’s approach to homelessness.

Nilan teamed up with director Laura Vazquez, documentary maker and professor from Northern Illinois University, whose personal experience with homelessness as a young mom with a baby motivated her involvement. With 15 years running Chicago area shelters, 20 years of intense leadership to assure homeless kids can get into school, and 7 years traveling the nation’s backroads chronicling  homeless families and youth, Nilan’s seen stereotypes work against implementing viable solutions to homelessness.

The seven women’s compelling stories give viewers insights of homelessness as it affects women, teens and children. Thousands of viewers--from California to Congress to Columbia University and beyond--have been profoundly moved. But the most disappointing response has been HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “He saw it, but HUD’s policies continue to ignore this vulnerable, invisible population,” Nilan laments.

Nilan urges supporters to visit the HEAR US home page which will lead them through the simple steps to contact their PBS affiliate, which needs to happen before Friday, April 6th. The film will also be available on DVD through HEAR US for $30 (plus shipping).

The few moments to petition their PBS affiliate could cause a cumulative positive effect, finally drawing public interest to an issue that is claiming many more victims. Nothing would be a better tribute to the courageous women who shared their stories than to know their stories caused a ripple of change on Mother’s Day.   

# # #