Just seven years ago, Danny Mendoza was a 19-year-old college student who wanted to help his young cousin get into good foster care. Because of his age, there were very limited guidelines already set up in the system that afforded him an opportunity to help. His concern at seeing his cousin living out of a car drove him to do more.

Together with a few friends, he sold some belongings to earn money to buy things foster kids really needed. This was the beginning of Mendoza’s non-profit Together We Rise.  Knowing that foster children are moved around — most often with just a trash bag of a few belongings — Mendoza enlisted the help of volunteer students on campuses throughout the United States to participate in making the lives of these children and youth a little better.

Particularly concerning was the plight of 16 and 17 year olds who need transportation. As one of Deseret News’ Heroes of 2014, Mendoza said, “The goal is to help them go to school and learn basic grocery shopping. And a lot of these kids don’t want to get a bike because they don’t know how to ride. What’s more, they’re embarrassed, they’re ashamed, and they try to act too cool. Once we work with them and teach them how to ride, that’s like the best thing ever.” And so Together We Rise (TWR) provides not only bikes for older foster kids, but lessons as well.

Danny Mendoza knows that becoming a foster parent doesn’t fit into everyone’s lives. But there are lots of other ways to help and TWR provides many of them. Their website is user friendly and will walk you through setting up fundraisers from sporting events to birthdays to bikes.  Participating in projects or events sponsored by TWR is another great way to help.