Actress Jackie Cruz has teamed up with charity organisers at Hoodies for the Homeless to help children in need.
The “Orange is the New Black” star was inspired to work with the organisation because she was once a homeless teen after leaving her single mother’s property at the age of 16.
She ended up living in a car, but a serious traffic accident at 17 prompted Cruz to leave Los Angeles and return to her family’s native Dominican Republic to recover.
It was there she met with a young quadriplegic girl, who complimented her on her looks despite her injuries, reported Contactmusic.
“I figured out that it was never going to be about how I looked, but how I made someone feel,” the 30-year-old actress said of the inspiration for her charity work.
And now that she has a platform, she wants to use her fame to give back.
“I have a voice now. (The show) gives me that, and why not uses it for good? I feel like I’m one of (the homeless teens).
I never had a dad, but I was raised by a big and extended family. I don’t say things happen for a reason, but if I hadn’t lived in a car or lived through the car accident, then I wouldn’t be who I am today or where I am today.”