Pat Van Doren

  • 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


  • Charlie's Law--History


    1994 - 2024

    30h Anniversary of the passage of the Illinois Education of Homeless Children Act 

    "Charlie's Law"

     Charlie, the little boy whose image launched the movement to improve homeless children's educational rights...

    Pat Van Doren's poignant, memorable, photo adorned every piece of promotional material about the

    ILLINOIS EDUCATION FOR HOMELESS CHILDREN ACT of 1994. We commemorate 1993 as the beginning of this campaign because it's when the family was turned away from their school, the act that began the legislative effort to change the Illinois state law. The law passed in 1994.


    Read an excerptfrom Diane's book, Crossing the Line: Taking Steps to End Homelessness, about the improbable beginnings of this law, now represented in the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act of 2001 (updated 12/15). 

    Definition of "homeless" in this law.

    ORDER DIANE'S BOOK, Crossing the Line: Taking Steps to End Homelessness that contains the story of Charlie and this law.

    This book and Diane's other books are also available through Amazon and other book vendors.


  • 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


    shopping-cart edited-1

    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. 






  • It's About the Children

    Pat's children's books enlighten readers about the real effects of homelessness on families. ORDER


    Pat Van Doren
    Honored by Congress!

    PVD Foster

    Congressman Bill Foster IL-11, D, thanks Pat for her tireless service on behalf of families and adults experiencing homelessness.

    The event took place November 12, 2022, at Heritage Woods, Bolingbrook, IL. 

    Cong Proclam

    Volcano Book - 25th Anniversary - 2023! 

    Watch a 5-min. adaptation of the
    Volcano book

    as created and performed by members of
    Christ United Methodist Church, Algonquin, IL


    Where Can I Build My Volcano?

    The iconic story of a little girl's coping with homelessness, in school and at home.


    Place of Our Own-cover A Place of Our Own- sequel to Volcano Book. The meaning of having a place to live after doing without for so long.

     5or6 A Family of Five or Six

    what happens when a family of six is displaced by a hurricane and becomes a family of five.


    Watch a short, inspiring clip of Pat Van Doren's powerful photos combined with a beautiful song by Marybeth Saunders. NOEL




    Children are often overlooked when people speak of homelessness.

    When kids lack a place to call home, they are hungry. They lose their friends, often their schools, and sadly their childhood.


    "Ryan" ©1995, Pat Van Doren


    With over 7 million
    homeless children in America
    it's time to remember...

    It's About the Children

    Dismayed about the growing number of homeless children she saw at a local shelter, photojournalist Pat Van Doren decided to do something...she began shooting images of homeless children, portraying them as she saw them--as children.

    Pat was in the shelter's parking lot with her camera when the stray 4-year-old boy, Charlie, picked up the stray cat. Her talented eye quickly framed the shot.

    "Charlie" (© 1994, Pat Van Doren) is rightly credited with attaining passage of "Charlie's Bill,"the Illinois Education for Homeless Children Act of 1994, landmark legislation that inspired Congress to pass a similar bill, the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act of 2001.

    PVD headshot.jpgFollowing passage of "Charlie's Bill," Pat continued to aim her lens at kids and adults who trusted her integrity and appreciated the results displayed across Illinois and the nation's capital.

    She created It's About the Children to focus her talented energies on raising awareness of homeless children. Her acclaimed images and poignant children's books have touched more hearts than any other awareness-raising tools.

    Pat's efforts were honored by the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (2006).

    IATC is a project of HEAR US Inc.



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