Friday, September 19, 2014

Serendipity and Need: Doc and Homeless Advocate Reconnect

September 19, 2014

For Immediate Release
Contact: Diane Nilan, 630/267-5424

Diane Nilan (L) and Karen Maloney inside Tillie, the
good Karma motorhome being exchanged. 
[Naperville, IL] “Dialing for docs” 20 years ago connected Diane Nilan, former shelter director at
Hesed House in Aurora with Dr. Karen Maloney, a physician from the St. Charles area. Nilan was recruiting volunteer medical personnel for Rainbow Clinic at the former incinerator turned shelter. On Monday, Nilan will hand over the keys to her motorhome to Maloney, solving a problem for both women.

The two met again at a volunteer mission in Tanzania in 2013. “It was great to catch up and learn that our paths never veered too far away,” said Nilan, founder/president of a one-woman national nonprofit, HEAR US Inc., giving voice and visibility to homeless children and youth.

Nine years ago, she sold her townhome and 
Nilan and Tillie in Nevada
most of her stuff to purchase a 27’motorhome to enable her to chronicle homelessness among millions of children, youth and families nationwide. Nilan put on 183,000 miles as she filmed several award-winning documentaries and conducted countless presentations to raise awareness of kids and parents with nowhere to go.

The time came to sell “Tillie the Turtle,” her 9-year-old motorhome, and only home, but Nilan could find no buyers. Maloney, starting a program to provide medical care to uninsured residents and homeless persons in the western suburbs, needed a motorhome, but her nonprofit Carein' Connections lacked the funds to buy one. Nilan happened to mention she was trying to sell Tillie. Serendipity? Perhaps.

On Monday, Nilan will hand over Tillie’s keys to her doc-friend, knowing that the legacy of this roadworthy motorhome will continue. Maloney will adapt the inside space to provide medical care and other services to those who lack resources for basic human needs, especially medical care.

Wednesday, after an early morning prayer breakfast presentation in Joliet, Nilan will point her rental van to Austin, TX where her new set of wheels await. She’s downsizing, making it possible for her to pursue stories of homeless children and youth in far off places in a more economically and ecofriendly fashion.

Her first Tillie2 trip will be with her “Babes of Wrath” pal Pat LaMarche on a trip to Colorado, Wyoming and Montana. The intrepid travelers have dubbed their trip “Homeless on the Range,” designed to call attention to homelessness, even on a Native American reservation.

Maloney and her colleagues need to quickly shape and stock Tillie into the medical miracle van that will serve hundreds of uninsured, desperate adults and kids.

These two nonprofits, and their unique founders, will carry on their essential missions, knowing that their paths will inevitably cross, and that lots of people will be better for it.

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