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True tale of homelessness and art takes home an Oscar

Inocente follows the life of a talented homeless high schooler.

Unfortunately, the story of Inocente Izucar doesn’t start out very differently than those of many other homeless kids. When her abusive father was arrested for beating Inocente and her mother, they and her two younger brothers ran for their lives. Because they were illegal immigrants, her father was deported and Inocente’s mother was forced to work low-paying and undependable odd jobs. For nine years, Inocente and her family didn’t live in a single place for longer than three months.

If you know Inocente’s name, it’s because the documentary Inocente, which followers her life and art, just took home the 2013 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short. In his memorable acceptance speech, Inocente‘s co-director Sean Fine introduced her to the world. “We want to thank this young lady who was homeless just a year ago and now she’s standing in front of all of you,” he said. “She’s an artist and all of you are artists and we feel like we need to start supporting the arts. They’re dying in our communities. And all of us artists, we need to stand up and help girls like her be seen and heard. It’s so important. Thank you.”

Inocente began filming in San Diego four years ago when its namesake was just 15. The documentary’s directors, Fine and his wife, Andrea Nix Fine, discovered Inocente through a San Diego nonprofit called ARTS: A Reason to Survive. That’s when she, her mom and three brothers were still homeless. 

“Being homeless doesn’t mean you wake up on the street every day,” Inocente explained in the film. “It means always moving between shelters, friends’ houses and apartments that you get evicted from.”

This fact is lost on many. When the average American hears the word “homeless,” he or she might imagine a man asking for a handout on the street, someone sleeping alone outside. But for thousands of families like Inocente, homelessness takes a different yet equally impoverished form.

“I don’t think children should have to wake up in a park, and from that park go to school. That’s not a childhood. I didn’t really have a childhood,” she said. “I’ve always wondered how it would be to not have to worry about money or if we’re going to have to move out of there...I wonder how it would be like to have my own room.”

Later in the documentary, Inocente’s mother, Carmela, explained through tears, “Even to this day, in this moment, I am still hoping that one day I will have a house. That not only I, but my children, will have a home.”

This is the hope of all families plagued by homelessness.

Donate your automobile to Volunteers of America.

At Volunteers of America of Greater Ohio, we’ve made it our mission to end this suffering. Through our indispensable programs and services, like our Youth Education Center for homeless children like Inocente, we are breaking the cycle of homelessness. But we need your help. By donating your car, truck, motorcycle, boat or RV to Volunteers of America, you are giving kids like Inocente hope for a future. Just fill out our online form or give us a call at 614-870-7500 for more information. We offer free same-day towing and you could even receive more for your car on your tax return as a charitable contribution than you would selling it on the market. It’s that easy. So what are you waiting for?

And as for Inocente, the 19-year-old is living in her own apartment with her two adopted bunnies. She had a successful art show in New York City in August andhas been invited to do an art show at the National Art Club in New York this summer–a dream come true.