For this trip, Marcus and I are partnering with charities. Marcus has chosen the Filipino Youth Coalition based in San Jose and I will be teaming up with Amman Imman and Together we Rise. We will be introducing these charities before we go, so you can learn more about what they do and why they are important to us.
Together We Rise is a charity I have been following now for about two or so years. One day I was scrolling through the news feed on facebook and somehow someone or another that I knew liked one of their posts. I was curious and paid their page a visit, and was deeply impressed by what they were doing, whom they were doing it for and felt I had stumbled on something very important. Fostering or even adopting a child is something that I had always kept open as an option for myself and so, in that sense there was that vested interest in Together We Rise also.
While TWR have a few different programs, a part of the money raised on this trip will go to their Build-A-Bike program, which is nation-wide. I got in touch with Danny Mendoza, founder of Together We Rise, and asked him a few questions about what this program entails and for some background information.
1. I believe you started Together We Rise due to personal experiences in a family member? Could you tell us a little more about this? You were quite young as well at the time?
I started TWR after my cousin went homeless at the age of 9. I wanted to do something to help kids in his situation and not be limited by my age [ed. Danny was in college].
2. Do you recall what the instance was where you decided enough is enough and you organised yourself as a non-profit dedicated to help foster children?
After helping my cousin, I went to a group home to volunteer so i could get more involved but they said because of my age the only thing I could do is donate money. When you are 19, you usually don’t have a lot of money so I decided I wanted to do something about this and create an organization that allowed you to help children in foster care regardless of their age. I was based in Chino and our office is still based out here. We used Social Media to help our organization grow and organize volunteers across the country.
3. Tell us about the idea to provide bikes to foster children 13+ around the nation, which is an amazing program!
We came up with build-a-bike as a way to give kids new bikes and a way to allow volunteers to get involved. The program is unique as the kids have to assist in building their own bikes so it reassures them that it is not a hand-me-down and it allows them to have a greater appreciation for the bike.
4. How is your cousin doing now?
My cousin, who is now 16, is no longer homeless and has been reunited with his mother and is living in her home.