by Saimah Shareef, Staff Writer
Benedictine University’s sixth annual Faith and Reason Symposium took place on Friday, April 12th in the Krasa Presentation Room. The event was from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and consisted of two panels with various speakers, a luncheon with the keynote speaker, and time for a reception.
The event was co-sponsored by the Center for Civic Leadership’s Hunger Team, the Abbey Endowment, the Center for Mission and Identity, the Global Studies Forum, the Department of History, Philosophy and Religious Studies, and the College of Liberal Arts.
Amongst all of the speakers present at the event, Diane Nilan was the keynote speaker. Nilan is the founder and president of HEAR US, which is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to giving voice and visibility to homeless children and youth. This organization produces films and books that are used by educators, social service personnel and other audiences to call attention to the invisible crisis of millions of families with children and young people who struggle without a place to call home.
HEAR US addresses audiences at conferences, university and college students, and a variety of gatherings to foster a greater understanding of homelessness. Nilan gave up her job as director of a Chicago homeless shelter in 2005. She sold her town house and bought an RV and video equipment to record homelessness in America. Nilan is convinced that if she can shed a light on the type of people she met in her 15 years of shelter work, she can make homelessness a national priority.
Driving her RV, she has visited 48 states, in an 80,000-mile cross-country journey, that has found her relentlessly chronicling poverty and homelessness. She uses film, blogs, her book, and public appearances to give a voice to the homeless, especially homeless families and young people. Her concern for homeless children is apparent in most of what she does.
During the event she was part of the “Solving Hunger, Locally and Globally” Panel. The first panel was titled “The Science of Hunger and Nutrition.”