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Falling In Love With FTH: A California Girl’s Story

STN’s Feeding the Hungry (FTH) program is 16 years in the running and one of the biggest food distribution productions in Hawaii. FTH has been featured on several news channels and in multiple news publications. Throughout FTH’s two main locations for food distribution, we distribute 30-40,000 pounds of food donated by the Hawaii Food Bank and Aloha Harvest to over 2,100 individuals in need. Regardless of how the numbers continue to grow, it’s the personal stories and individual experiences that keep us loving this life of service.

 

Rachael Andersen came to STN from Southern California specifically to work with Feeding the Hungry.

 

Rachael and STN go way back: Tom and Cindy Bauer, the founders of STN, were leaders at YWAM (Youth With A Mission) during her mother’s time there. Rachael followed in her mother’s steps and came to Oahu to work with YWAM. Through an unexpected turn of events, Rachael was unable to join her YWAM team on an international trip, and instead, chose to work with STN during that time. It was then that Rachael experienced and fell in love with FTH. “I was doing so much more than passing out food; I was building relationships,” Rachael explains “I got to know people’s names and their stories and see them on a regular basis.”

 

Through the closing of doors in one area, a world of opportunity opened up in another. “ I came to STN thinking it would just be a short term thing, but now I’m full-time staff with FTH and I love it!” Rachael says. “I love being busy. I get to see everything, interact with the people we are serving and all the volunteers. It’s so fast-paced and there are so many people to see.” Rachael and the other FTH staff and volunteers work 10-11 hours on distribution days and interact with almost 700 people. “It’s so exhausting, but so rewarding. I look forward to it every week.”

 

FTH’s food distribution program goes to Kalihi every week, alternates weeks in Waikiki and Wahiawa and goes once a month to Waianae. “It’s so satisfying to begin a day with 24,000 lbs of food and see it disappear throughout the day as it goes to families in need”. Seeing the people she interacts with throughout the week is one of the highlights of her job.

Rachael’s love of serving others began long before her arrival at STN. The high school she went to in Murrieta, CA had a small food distribution on Wednesday nights which she regularly served at. Once a month, she would also go to downtown San Diego and participate in a distribution whose primary participants consisted of Hispanic immigrants.

 

“It’s always been about building relationships. Growing up, I never wanted to be a missionary, but I’ve always loved helping people.” Rachael attributes her passion for service to her family upbringing. “I come from a good family and stable household, but both of my parents were raised by single mothers and lived off of food stamps. They taught me not to take things for granted.” Instilled with the value of being thankful, Rachael views her parents as the inspiration for her love for volunteering and serving others less fortunate than her.

 

Rachael first volunteered with FTH three years ago and has now been working with FTH as full-time staff almost every week for the past eight months. “The physical and mental demands are pretty tough,” she said. “It takes a hundred percent of my brain capacity a hundred percent of the time. Even on lunch breaks people are wanting to talk to you and ask questions or just hang out. You’re on your feet and socially ‘on’ the whole time; trying to be friendly and professional simultaneously.”

 

Despite the wear and tear on her body and mind, the rejuvenation in her heart keeps Rachael constantly looking forward to food distribution days. “Having the mindset that it’s enjoyable to serve people and that you can be ‘silly’ and let loose, in a sense, allows volunteers to have fun. It makes it less of a chore to serve,” she said. The relational aspects of FTH help to foster this kind of fun and familiar environment. “It’s like when you go to church or your old neighborhood and you get to see a whole bunch of people that you know and say hello to all of them. It’s like a family reunion every week”.

 

FTH has grown a lot since Rachael first volunteered with the program three years ago during her DTS. “It was pretty chaotic then, and now it’s really peaceful. That is a big change.” FTH has come a long way and is at a great place, but Rachael hopes that it continues to grow and develop even better coordinated orchestration. “I’d like to see FTH providing more services than just food-related needs,” she said. “Right now we have a lady bringing free cell phones for people and a man setting people up with medical aid.” Rachael’s passion for education also adds to her desire to see FTH grow. “There are people who want to learn; foreigners who need language classes, single mothers needing a career and people who haven’t finished high school,” she said. “Someday, I would like it to be that there is no more FTH because we aren’t needed anymore and people are taken care of.”

 

Farther down the line, Rachael hopes to become a teacher. She said, “Passionate teachers are way better than passive ones. So, having gotten to see so many different sides of life, I know I want to work with at-risk kids rather than middle-class or upper-class kids. Working with FTH is helping me to line those kinds of things up. Someday, I’d like to have my own food distribution in San Diego.”

 

If you, like Rachel, have a passion for seeing needs met, you can join FTH by volunteering, donating goods (i.e. finances, food, clothes or household items) or simply spreading the word about what is happening here.

 

Email us at info@surfingthenations.com

Details concerning distribution times and locations can be found at: http://surfingthenations.com/fth/

Check out more photos from FTH on our Flickr

 

Written By: Akela Newman

Waves For Water

We love water, whether we are in it, on it, observing it or ingesting it.

As surfers, the interaction between our bodies, surfboards, and the wave is something we live for. However, as human beings, water is more than just something we enjoy playing in, but a critical part of everyday living.  Unfortunately, access to clean water is a luxury often taken for granted.

Recognizing this reality, Waves for Water (W4W) decided to take action. W4W is a humanitarian, non-profit organization that helps provide communities around the world with clean water via portable filters. The idea is to make clean water available to those in need through an exponential community effort rather than a one-time mass donation.  With this mindset, W4W has partnered with Hurley International to create a DIY volunteer program called Clean Water Couriers (CWC).

CWC provides a platform for globetrotters from different backgrounds and interests to give back to the various communities they encounter by distributing water filters. This opportunity was one that STN could not pass up, and has now become an official Clean Water Courier through W4W.

Adding to their ingenuity, filters are very simple to manufacture and transport. All that is required are paint buckets, a knife or any tool to make holes, and the spigots and ceramic-drip filters that W4W produce. STN had a first-hand experience with the filters on its last outreach trip to Bangladesh. “We set up the filter in a school from a poor area,” said Zach Trein, International Outreach staff member. “Taking the water filters to Bangladesh for a trial run went amazing, so we’d love to bring them on all our international trips.” 

Next up for STN’s international outreach trips is North Korea (Check out our recent post about the trip: http://surfingthenations.com/from-north-shore-to-north-korea-2/, and the video of when W4W went to North Korea: http://www.wavesforwater.org/project/north-korea). W4W introduced the filters to North Korea in October 2012 and will partner with STN this month to bring even more filters. A single filter costs $25-50 and can provide approximately 100 people with clean water for up to five years. At STN, our long-term goal is to raise $5,000 for 100 filters in order to bring several on each of our trips. That could mean clean water for over 10,000 people around the world. 

Part of what connects humanity despite differences in interests, backgrounds, communication styles, etc, are our basic human needs. Not everyone surfs, but everyone needs clean water to drink. Help us reach across barriers and show love, in North Korea and around the world, through alleviating the need for the most basic element of life.

If you are interested in helping to create clean water waves through our International Outreaches, donate here through the W4W website: http://www.wavesforwater.org/courier/surfing-the-nations-impacts-local-and-international-communities-through-the-sport-of-surfing-selfless-service-by-meeting-needs-and-changing-lives

Learn more at: http://www.wavesforwater.org

Written By: Akela Newman

From North Shore to North Korea

There are very few unexplored frontiers remaining in the world of surfing! These territories remain un-surfed primarily because of their remote and geographically hazardous locations such as Antarctica, West Africa and Eastern Russia. However, there is one country with a much more accessible location, having approximately 1,550 miles of coastline that have yet to be explored via surfboard – North Korea.

In 2003, STN was the forerunner of surfing and surf culture in Bangladesh. This year, we have a similar opportunity to pioneer the sport in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (a.k.a. North Korea) through an invitation to host two surf camps…which we, of course, could not pass up.

At the end of July, our team of 19 STN members from around the world (including countries such as Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, Australia and the USA) will be working in conjunction with Pyongyang Ocean Sports Club and other non-profit humanitarian organizations who foster community development and relief work. The surf camps will be held on the east coast of North Korea in the East China Sea, a region of water surrounding North Korea previously inaccessible. Now, however, we have been given the opportunity to enjoy the waves at STN’s surf camps: one at Shijung beach and the other at either Wonsan Bay or Majung.

Google satellite images show potential for epic (and completely empty) surf spots, revealing sneak-peeks at sandy-bottomed beach breaks and point breaks striped with an endlessly rolling lineup. In addition to taking a traditional tour of the capital city, Pyongyang, the team will spend the majority of the two week trip ‘giving back’ by sharing their passion for the sport of surfing. STN will also be bringing surfboards, wetsuits, and other surf gear to give to the “new” North Korean surfers to keep up their stoke for surfing after our team departs. Along with establishing a long-term surf community, we are hoping this trip will build a bridge between STN and the people of North Korea and allow us to return annually in the future.

 

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Be part of this trip! Send your support of surf gear or finances, email go@surfingthenations.com or visit surfingthenations.com/donate.

Photo Credit: http://www.arcticsurfblog.com/2012/07/surf-guide-to-north-korea/ 

Written By: Akela Newman

Surfers Coffee Bar Is Going Big!

Surfers Coffee Bar Is Going Big!

 /// MAKEOVER

Surfers Coffee Bar is now in its 4th year running and is thriving due to it’s recent makeover. Thank you to everyone who helped in the renovation of SCB and thank you to all our loyal customers for your patience and for supporting SCB through the transition. Since the renovations, SCB has had their most successful quarter ever and attribute it in large part to their increasingly famous Acai Bowls.

/// RECOGNITION
We are thrilled at how SCB is thriving. We are becoming better and better known for the quality of our caffeine as well as the humanitarian heartbeat behind it. In May, SCB crew participated in the First Annual Hawaii Coffee Festival where barista, Katie, won second place in the Brewer’s Competition. SCB was also given a booth at Turtle Bay Resort’s Independence Day celebration where they served coffee and promoted STN to participants in the festivities.

/// WHAT’S AHEAD

SCB is stepping it up in their retail department and working on some new t-shirt designs. We hope to increase SCB’s coolness factor (literally and figuratively) by installing a few air conditioning units sometime in the following months. The traditional Wednesday night Open Mic events are also getting kickstarted back into action.

 

 

Keep up with Surfers Coffee Bar at:

Surferscoffee.com

~and~

Instagram @surferscoffeebar

Written by: Akela Newman

Pepperdine University /// Project Serve

Project Serve, an alternative spring break program offered by Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, allows students to travel together on an adventure and experience a “vacation” where the focus is not on themselves, but on serving others.

Project Serve teams, which are composed of students and led by students, travel to many locations in the U.S. as well as internationally.  The goal in doing so is to remove comfort zones and increase student awareness of issues being faced by others around the world.

For the past two years, Surfing the Nations has been selected by Pepperdine University as one of the opportunities offered within the program. While both Pepperdine and STN have similar goals regarding the service of others and fostering leaders, we find a significant point of connection through surfing. Rated one of the top ten surf colleges by SURFER Magazine, Pepperdine’s association with STN is a perfect fit.

This partnership has also created a unique platform for the students on Project Serve to participate in the lifestyle of service and community found at Surfing The Nations in a fun and meaningful way. Whether they are giving back at our local outreach programs or going on adventures in the tropical mountains of Oahu, students are presented with opportunities to pursue personal growth and experience the warmth of Hawaiian culture. We at STN hope for more schools to do the same and to invest in their students by giving them experiences that cannot be acquired in the confines of a classroom.

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Pepperdine students that have been involved with STN’s programs through Project Serve share the experiences they have had with our organization and the impact our interactions have had on their learning experiences. 

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Sarah Madsen, Senior at Pepperdine:

This past spring break, I had the honor of co-leading a group of 25 students on a service project in Wahiawa, Hawaii, where the organization Surfing the Nations is located. It was honestly one of the best experiences of my life. My team and I did a wide array of activities, from barbecuing at Waikiki and sharing meals with homeless and visitors alike, to helping hand out donations from the food bank, to surfing (of course!)…and I loved every minute of it.

All of the interns at STN were so welcoming and hardworking, and they really showed love in all they did. I am overjoyed that Pepperdine has strengthened their ties with such a wonderful organization, and I’m excited that more of my peers will have the opportunity to volunteer with STN!

 It is amazing to see how STN is being used to do great things in Wahiawa, and I’m excited to see [future groups of] Pepperdine students be inspired to join in!

 There are a several memories that stand out most prominently when I think back on my time with Surfing the Nations. One, among many, is watching a poor, single mother’s face light up when founder Tom Bauer sold her a computer for $4. Another is STN treating us like family from our first encounter and teaching us to surf during our first day there. Another is having lunch and conversations with homeless people on the beach.

Falon Opsahl, Junior at Pepperdine:

I was a member of the first Pepperdine team to work with STN for Project Serve in 2013. We were given the chance to explore the island and serve the people for a week. By the end, my body was sore and exhausted, but my heart was refilled, my mind was refocused, and my soul was rejuvenated.

Between surfing on the North Shore of Oahu, clearing a riverbank of debris, cleaning and reorganizing an ex-strip club that had been converted into a storage house for goods for the poor, hiking and jumping off waterfalls, feeding and hanging out with the homeless, and staying up late bonding with my Pepperdine team and the long-term STN team members, it was one of the most draining and inspiring experiences of my life.

I am grateful that I was able to pioneer the Project Serve partnership with STN. I am excited for my fellow Pepperdine students, present and future, who will be able to experience and spread the love, generosity, and selflessness of the STN organization and its team members.

 

Esther Kang, Sophomore at Pepperdine:

When I first found out that I was assigned to spend my Spring Break in Hawaii, I was “stoked” as the Hawaiians call it. Great waves, an opportunity to serve the people of Hawaii and an awesome group of friends….What more could I ask for? My experience at STN, however, was so much more than this. STN has left a mark on my character and now holds a very special place in my heart that I will treasure for the rest of my life. During my stay in Wahiawa I was consistently challenged, exhausted and pushed to my limits but this further ensued an increase in my faith, a deep sense of connection with the people around me, and the most fun and satisfaction that I’ve ever experienced in my life.

 Our first day serving food at Waikiki beach especially opened my eyes and helped me to reflect on my own character; It not only prompted me to see how blessed I am to be able to afford shelter, education and basic necessities, but this experience and the people I’ve conversed with also forced me to see the selfishness and oblivion that I have been living in day to day. One of my jobs that day was to hand out grocery bags that contained different canned foods and other goods in them. I remember giving a bag to one woman who waited next to me until most of the bags were given away. She finally shyly approached me and said that she already received a bag but that she would like one more to bring to her neighbor who needs it more than she does. She had politely waited another hour to make sure that she could bring home another bag for her neighbor. As I handed her another bag she thanked me with all her heart and I couldn’t help but think that I should be thanking her more for showing me what true selflessness looked like. Throughout the week I was able to witness many more similar acts of genuine altruism and kindness by people who I would have simply passed by if I was in Hawaii as a tourist.

Furthermore, each and every STN crew member has taught me that a life of service and devotion is far more valuable than a life that is lived to serve myself. The enduring enthusiasm and determination of the STN staff has inspired me to take further steps to live a life for a greater purpose and adopt a heart of service even if this simply means taking baby steps within my community. The peace and satisfaction that I felt while serving at STN was like no other and if I had the opportunity to work with STN again, I would do it a hundred times over.

 As Pepperdine students and the STN crew worked hand in hand, I truly felt surrounded by my family, or my “Ohana,” and I am thankful every day that we have been paired together for a greater cause. I personally feel that Pepperdine’s accreditation of the STN internship program would be a great way to lead Pepperdine students to an experience of a lifetime. There are very few experiences that significantly leave a mark on a person’s character, and I have no doubt that my experience at STN has done this to my life along with many others.  It has impacted the way I see the world, and helped determine the path that I will ultimately choose to take in life.

 

 

To learn more about Pepperdine University visit: http://www.pepperdine.edu

To learn more about Project Serve visit: http://www.pepperdine.edu/volunteercenter/opportunities/projectserve/

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Written By: Akela Newman

(Photos courtesy of Esther Kang, Pepperdine Project Serve 2014)

Just Passing Through…

Besides hitting the waves on International Surfing Day, another great way to celebrate the stoke of the ocean is to check out Reef’s latest surf short, “De Passage” created by Director and Cinematographer Russell Brownley in conjunction with Reef’s Global Creative Director, Mark Tesi.

Brownley is known for surf films such as “Walking on Water,” “Fading West” and “Promised Land” but is particularly special to Surfing the Nations because of his short documentary on Bangladesh called “Gum for my Boat.” Known for his ability to connect surfing and culture in meaningful ways, the debut of Brownley’s latest work is perfectly timed for International Surfing Day.

Brownley’s portrayal of the natural beauty of the ocean as well as the raw stoke of the people who surf its swells emphasizes the magnified beauty of each when the two meet in highly charged interactions. Add on the element of travel and “De Passage” fulfills every surf film’s potential to be an addictive, adrenaline-packed adventure laid out before the viewers’ eyes. The surreal qualities of Brownley’s videography convey the stoke that every surfer can identify with and that so many non-surfers long to experience.

“De Passage,” French for “Just Passing Through,” follows the surf adventures of Reef representatives throughout five continents and some of the worlds best surf spots. One of the fiercest breeds of explorers in our modern age are surfers. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected throughout all arenas of life, it is important to take time to appreciate the elements of nature that make surfing such a beautiful adventure all around the world.

While this is only the 10 year anniversary of Surfrider Foundation’s International Surfing Day the ideals that it focuses on are a part of our daily goals here at STN. Surfrider Foundation and Surfing Magazine started International Surfing Day as an initiative to combine the fun of surfing with the responsibility of caring for the environment. We at STN focus on combining surfing with humanitarian work locally and internationally…making every day International Surfing Day.

 

Click here to watch the full length film:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUJPKBR5DmI

 

(Written By: Akela Newman)