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Voices and Faces
"Our lives were filled with benches," shared Ben, an 18-year-old homeless youth as he showed me where he sat to reflect on the impressive accomplishment of earning his diploma while living on the streets of Anytown USA. He welcomed the opportunity to share his plight and his successes on film, with great hopes that people would care about and help homeless children and youth.
HEAR US, a unique national nonprofit venture, offers homelessness experts like Ben and so many others the unique opportunity to be heard. Why is that important? Because their future depends on our nation's ability to respond to this ever-growing disintegration of childhood and family lives.
Their powerful images and poignant portrayals of lives without childhood homes convey a sense of urgency and inspire compassion far beyond the most ardent non-homeless advocate.
My Own Four Walls, the unique documentary featuring these articulate accounts of homelessness, is now available.
Over 1.6 million homeless children and youth live on streets of America's small towns, rural areas, resort communities, mid-sized cities and urban areas. They experience devastation-their childhood, their educational opportunities, and their chances for success-yet many of these young people can succeed given the help to survive, strive and thrive.
In 2009-10, Diane hopped in Tillie, her trusty RV, and traveled to communities across the country to talk to women who, with their families, experienced homelessness and lived a nomadic existence doubled up with friends, bouncing between cheap motels, and living in vehicles.
She knew these families were out there. And found them more than willing to share their stories.
Hear their stories below, 2-3 minute video clips edited by film students at Northern Illinois University as part of their work with HEAR US film partner Dr. Laura Vazquez.
Cathy tells of her family's nomadic existence in rural Illinois.
Laura of rural Indiana shares her family's story of homelessness.
Vanessa of Massachusetts speaks to President Obama about her and her daughter's homelessness.