charlie book

  • Charlie's Compassion Challenge

    HEAR US Inc. is issuing 
    Charlie’s Compassion Challenge!
    Bring goodness into the lives of kids experiencing homelessness in your community by picking (at least) one deed from The Charlie Book: 60 Ways to Help Homeless Kids. 

    Perfect for individuals, service clubs, scouts, PTOs, faith communities, etc. Actions helps kids of all ages, infant to young adult--right here in your own community! 

    Charlie book coverYour good deed will benefit local efforts to help homeless kids. You can connect with local programs. If you don’t know who to connect with, this book describes how to find local services.

    Get a copy of The Charlie Book:
    HEAR US for $10 (+$6 s/h), 

       Kindle $1.99
    All proceeds from book sales benefit homeless kids.

    • Pick your challenge. 
    • Contact the local shelter/program to verify this need.
    • Do it! 
    • Deliver to the shelter/program. Ongoing, no deadline!
      (HEAR US is planning Naperville area events in November. Sign up for our free monthly e-newsletterfor more information.)

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    Did You Know?

    Homelessness affects both adults and kids.

    • Thousands  of kids of all ages are homeless in the Fox Valley, IL area. Millions (6M+) across the country.
    • Families/youth tend to beinvisible in their homelessness.
    • Kids can attendschool and have strong educational rights (law originated in the Fox Valley.)
    • Agencies/schools can’t meet all theneeds of these kids.
    • Given help, these kids cansucceed.

    HEAR US and local agencies/schools want to raise awareness of this issue so immediate and long-term needs can be met. 

    Charlie’s Compassion Challengewill: 

    • generate needed supplies to help local kids, 
    • raise awareness of the plight and promise of local kids,
    • develop support for local efforts,
    • challenge officials to work harder for solutions.

    charles smileCompassion cures Apathy, causing love to seep almost undetected, touching those who give and those who receive. This little boy,"Charlie," aka Charles, has brought about more good than anyone could ever know, even Charles(2008).   


    Charlie is a real kid from the Fox Valley.
    He and his mom were homeless.
    Naperville Sun photographer
    Pat Van Dorentook this photo. 

    Pat's a HEAR US director, serving with a dedicated volunteer board overseeing her project, It’s About the Children. 


    HEAR US Inc. 

    Since 2005, HEAR US Inc.,
    this Naperville-based national nonprofit
    gives voice & visibility to families & youth 
    experiencing homelessness. 

    Founded by Diane Nilan (former director at PADS/Hesed House in Aurora), who lives in her van. She travels across backroads filming and producing award-winning videosfeaturing families and youth sharing what it’s like to be homeless and what school means. Check out the website!

    DDN T2 TX


  • HEAR US Books

     HEAR US offers superb books to help adults and kids understand homelessness. 

    Diane's Books About Homelessness CBF Books About Homeless 
    Children and Youth
    CBF Books About Kids' Homelessness for Kids  Pat Van Doren's Books About Homeless Kids
    for Kids

    dismazed and driven book

    Dismazed and Driven - My Look at Family Homelessness in America

    Diane's latest book! 
    Released November 2020



    Crossing the Line book

    Crossing the Line:
    Taking Steps to End Homelessness

    by Diane Nilan

    Paradigm book cover

     Changing the Paradigm of Homelessness 

    by Yvonne Vissing, Christopher Hudson and Diane Nilan


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    SHOP HEAR US E-Stores
    ooks also available through mainstream book vendors (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.) and independent book stores.

    Schools/organizations may use PURCHASE ORDERS to order from HEAR US.
    Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

     - Priscilla Series -

    • Priscilla the Princess
      of the Park
    • Priscilla and the Snow Fort
    • Priscilla and the Bishop's Gambit
    • Priscilla's Picnic with the President

    Pat LaMarche's delightful new series of children's chapter books on homelessness! They are kids' books that will delight and enlighten kids and adults!

    Priscilla Princess book cover

    Priscilla snow fort cover

    Priscilla Bishop book

    Priscilla picnic with the president book

    Pat's hardcover and e-books available through the Charles Bruce Foundationand Amazon.

    Kursid Kids

    Kursid Kids 

    Written by an 8-year-old boy, Ronan, Pat LaMarche's grandson,  
    ...this book weaves an elaborate science fantasy through a fabric of injustice. You will fall in love with the characters - most of them. You will ponder the same question Ronan asked in the car that dark night as he thought about his housing-insecure classmates, "Who will make things right in a world where so much is wrong?"

    Priscilla Pals in the park

    Priscilla and her Pals in the Park

    Written by Pat LaMarche to be read to younger children, this will enlighten older readers, too! 


    Pat's hardcover and e-books available through the Charles Bruce Foundation and Amazon.

    It's About the Childrenproject

    by Pat Van Doren 


    Where Can I Build My Volcano?
    limited supplies


    Place of Our Own-cover-sm

    A Place of Our Own 
    no longer available


    A Family of 5 or 6
    limited supplies

    Each book is $15 + s/h

    Available through
    HEAR US Square Site. 


    Charlie-book cover

    The Charlie Book:

    60 Ways to Help Homeless Kids

    by Diana Bowman

    Available through
    HEAR US Square Site.
    imited supply at $10 @
    Price increase coming. 

    The Charlie Book is also available as an e-book from Amazon. 






  • HEAR US Projects

    Besides the longstanding involvement of HEAR US in projects that raise awareness of family/youth homelessness, HEAR US has flexibility to pursue projects that would otherwise take a long time for other organizations to get off the ground. When a relevant issue arises, and circumstances allow, Diane can often pursue it, either by researching and bloggingabout it or visiting the location and filming.

    Other endeavors include Memorial Blanket Project, and various local awareness-raising events, e.g. diaper drives.

    Memorial Blanket Project  Diaper drive Budgetel Inn in Chattanooga closed
    DC Blankets Diaper drive 7 19 budgetel closed

    Recent examples of HEAR US action include: 

    Hurricane Michael, Panama City, FL 2020 Ride It Out
    Family in motel during Covid, Raleigh, NC 2020

    Capital Failure

    Doubled up homelessness in Madison and Dane County, WI 2021 Not Homeless Enough
    Humanitarian crisis caused by mass eviction in Chattanooga, TN 2022 Unexpected Upheaval
  • It's Everybody's Problem


     So often you hear, "We don't have homelessness in our town." or "It's a big city problem." or "They could get a place if they wanted to." or "Kids aren't homeless."

     More than 7 million invisible children and youthexperience homelessness across America, in every community.
    They need your help.  Thanks for your interest! Thanks for your support!

    Donate DDN MEDIUM blog


    FMN children

    What HEAR US does best...

    • Since 2005, HEAR US has worked hard to give voice & visibility
      to families & youth experiencing homelessness. 
      Looking back, looking forward, our best work is our films.

      No "talking heads." Just raw, honest stories from those who know
      homelessness best--the families & youth
      who experience life without a place to call home.
      Ideal for school trainings, community awareness-raising, classroom lessons, and more...

      Check out our list of films here. (Oh yeah, they're free!)

      MyOwn4Walls logo 500
      My Own Four Walls, all-time favorite,
      our first film, still relevant today!
      (20 min)
    Now live!

    HEAR US will be releasing a fantastic new book summer '24!
    National Launch, Raleigh, NC Sept. 17-19, '243M new BW

    1 3M THEcover copyThe Three Melissas --
    The Practical Guide to Surviving
    Family Homelessness
    (more info)

    BULK Pre-orders accepted 
    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

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    HEAR US books inform, inspire
    Looking for quality books on homelessness--for adults & kids?
    HEAR US offers a wide array, and our indie bookshop lets you shop
    for books of your choice, get them shipped out fast, while supporting essential 
    indie bookstores. 

      • HEAR US Bookshop -
      • For the "other" source of books - Amazon 
      • A limited supply of "It's About the Children"  books by Pat Van Doren
        are still available. (Larger orders may be available. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
      • HEAR US Square site.

    Recent Films by HEAR US!

    Caring Schools Make the Difference - NC 1/24

    be kind UNCG Large

    Family and youth homelessness comes in many forms. Schools are the constant island of security. These courageous moms and youth share their stories with hopes that viewers will learn more about the challenges of homelessness and the importance of school officials who help however possible.
    This 15-min. film was filmed for
    the North Carolina Homeless Education Program (NCHEP).   

    Homeless Liaisons Navigate Challenges
    in North Carolina

    Help tilesEvery school district nationwide has homeless liaisons, the mostly-unsung champions for students experiencing homelessness. North Carolina has a well-trained cadre of liaisons serving students and their families. This 12-min. film takes you across the state to see and hear the liaisons in action. 


    Hidden in Plain Sight -Dawn Family Plate
    Families Experiencing Homelessness
    in New Mexico

    Four mothers and a dad share their families' experiences of homelessness and describe how schools helped them survive.(16:15) 
    Dawn Mama Mayor smallDedicated to Dawn, who passed away July 8, 2023. 

     HEAR Them: Youth Without Homes in New Mexico (5/22)

    NM Youth Intro


    Six New Mexico teens shared their experiences and insights about homelessness. Three teens are unaccompanied youth--without parents/guardians involved in their lives.
    The other three are part of a family.


    ID eagleIdaho Schools: Lifesaving Connection  (1/22)
    4 women share their families' struggles and accomplishments, pointing to the importance of school support (18:30)

    Families Experiencing Housing Instability in Idaho  
    ID mothers share what school support meant to their families (6:50)

    These women offer deep, heartfelt insights about the agonies of housing instability and the impact of support from their children's school communities. 
    Invaluable lessons for all audiences. Perfect McKinney-Vento training tools.

    Not Homeless Enough (8/21)

    Be Kind window

    The agony of parents with no viable options in Madison and Dane County, WI (video 10 min). This film illustrates the dilemma of those "not homeless enough" for HUD's definition of homelessness.

    Capital Failure -family in parking lot

    Family Homelessness Surging (3/21)

    See and hear this family's struggles being stuck in motels during CoVid in Raleigh, NC. (12-min)

    Jamie's astute descriptions of her family's hardships
    resonate with many families in similar situations. 
     Her textbook lesson that needs widespread sharing.
    More about the film, resources...



  • The Charlie Book

    Charlie-book cover

    The Charlie Book:
    60 Ways to Help Homeless Kids

    The Charlie Book

    Author: Diana Bowman
    Editor, Photographer: Diane Nilan

    Graphic Design, Layout: Beth Adams

    Charlie photo: Pat Van Doren

    Price: $12, quantity discounts available

    Publisher: HEAR US Inc.


    (as of 7/22) Kindle $1.99    

    The Charlie Book: 60 Ways to Help Homeless Kids grew out of the desire to create a compassion epidemic that would spill out across the country to at least ease the suffering of millions of homeless children and youth. 

    This concise handbook will provide the know-how for adults and kids, civic organizations and faith communities, scout troops and neighborhood associations to make a viable difference in their local communities for the mostly invisible families and youth experiencing a variety of shapes of homelessness.

    Those involved in this book believe that good people doing good things will mitigate the apathy and anxiety that grabs headlines and shatters lives. The Charlie Book offers a simple, doable approach to providing tangible help to young people striving to get an education despite the formidable challenges they face. 

    The antidote to apathy is action. The Charlie Book,offers simple activities that can simply change lives for the better. 

    Other resources: 

    History - Who Is Charlie?

    How Many Homeless Kids?

    How To Use the Charlie Book?

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