Hear Us

Hear UsHear Us is a national organization whose mission is to bring voice and visibility to the homeless—especially homeless children and youth, and also their mothers.  Diane Nilan—who has spent a distinguished lifetime advocating for homeless people, starting or running shelters, and playing a major part in helping homeless children get the education they need— founded Hear Us in 2005.

More on the Hear Us main page

…where, among other things, you’ll find:

  • The Hear Us website
  • A Huffington Post article about Diane
  • A radio documentary on Diane
  • Thoughts about the PBS showing of her film on the edge—and more…

My wife, Linda Bonifas-Guzman, is on the Hear Us board of directors.  She and I volunteered at Hesed House (in Aurora, IL) when Diane ran it, and today still volunteer at Daybreak Shelter (Joliet, IL), which Diane started in the mid-80’s.  For us, it’s been around a 30-year adventure, “adventure” being a perfect word for anyone privileged to be involved with Diane and her mission.

I remember an afternoon around seven years ago when Diane called me up to announce that she was selling her town home and most everything she owned to buy and RV and travel around the country filming homelessness.  I must have been silent for a long time because the next thing I remember was her saying, “Richard, Richard, are you there?”  I think my first words were, “Do you have a movie camera?”  “No,” she said, “Do you know where I can get a good one cheap?”

Diane-Wander-Not-LostShe did buy the RV.  She did buy some movie equipment.  And now several documentaries later she travels the country coast-to-coast, a regular at Columbia University in New York, Duke University in North Carolina, and UCLA in California.  At the Hear Us website you can find out more about the films My Own Four Walls, on the edge, and The Littlest Nomads, among others.

Also find out about her book Crossing the Line: Taking Steps to End Homelessness.  I helped her with the book in 2004, and even sent a copy to my publisher at Loyola University Press.  He said he’d been very moved by the book, more so than many, many he’d read recently, but finally declined: a money decision, he said, feeling he wouldn’t be able to sell enough copies.  It was the best rejection letter I’d ever seen—and to this day I think he misjudged the book’s potential.  I wrote this about the book—a blurb which appears first in the book’s first printing:  “Read this book.  Diane Nilan has spent a distinguished lifetime helping the homeless.  She writes beautifully, from the heart, and will help you feel from your own heart not only the desperation of homeless persons but their particular strengths as well.  You might even start daring to hope that the plight of homelessness might someday be solved.”

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