Let me set the stage for you: Crowds numbering over 1,000. Flowers falling from helicopters like snow in the sky. Oversized photos of teenagers hoisted into the air. Leis made of flowers and money held in outstretched arms. What is this? A Hawaiian high school graduation, of course!
I was incredibly blessed to be able to attend a friend’s high school graduation this Spring. His name is David Dawson. David is one of the most caring and generous men that I know. He gives more than he takes and is always willing to extend an open hand. I met David over a year ago while I was a part of STN’s Service Team. We met in a hole. No, not a metaphoric hole, but a real dirt and mud one. I was digging an eight foot pit in order to get to a blocked sewage pipe and that is when David arrived on the scene. He had come STN to volunteer with us and thankfully, was there just in time. We talked quite a bit that day, as you tend to do in a confined space, and really got to know one another.
Over the next few months I got to know David quite well and was really impressed with his character and work ethic. We were doing hard work at the time, but David never complained or shirked his duty; he persevered and continued to serve STN and his community, Wahiawa.
David has lived on Ohai Street since he was eight years old. Living in a place notorious for violence and drug activity, a child’s future on this street often has far too many dark options. But David knew who he wanted to be. To stay focused in the face the temptation of drugs, fighting, and vandalism was a challenge, but he fought against the drift and used his football and volunteer work to stay on course. Going to college has always been a goal for him, and a dream for his family as well.
Through hard work and dedication, David graduated high school. His name was called and he went up on stage to receive his diploma, smiling the entire time. Not only did David graduate, but he also received a full tuition scholarship to the University of Hawaii, Hilo! I am incredibly proud of David. He put his mind to it and succeeded as a result. Dedication and determination are truly the ingredients in the recipe for success.
Thank you David, for being a true friend and for all your work in the community! ” -CJ
Header photo credit: western.edu
This past week was a busy and bittersweet one, as we said our congratulations and goodbyes to some of our Ohana. This week was the graduation of our 10 Surfers Leadership School students and our twenty-nine interns. It was an exciting time for the students to reflect back on the three months of their time in Hawaii and celebrate their accomplishments. For the interns, that meant reading books, passing tests, and working hard in several different departments at STN, including Waianae surf and swim and Feeding the Hungry. Many of them are going back to different corners of the world: Sweden, Canada and all over the United States. The SLS students celebrated the completion of their leadership training and apprenticeships (not to mention their Big Adventure!) and they are pressing on in their full time staff positions for the remainder of the year.
We are so thankful for the interns and staff that have chosen to come to STN. You guys are what make us run and what makes this Ohana incredible.Thanks for giving back!
Surfing the Nations was honored with to join Duke’s Restaurant Waikiki as they celebrated their 20th anniversary on January 18th. This day was not just a celebration of a thriving business, but an establishment that has truly upheld and lived out the spirit of Aloha. Duke’s has generously invested in and supported non-profits on the island for six years now through their Legacy of Aloha program. Surfing the Nations was chosen to be one of the recipients of a $2,000 donation along with other nonprofits: Nā Kama Kai, Mālama Maunalua, the Honolulu City and County South Shore Lifeguards, Holomua Nā ʻOhana, and Angel Network. In total, $12,000 was given to further the work of conserving the land and supporting the people of Hawaii. This is the third year Surfing the Nations has been invited and made Legacy of Aloha recipients.
We are so grateful to Duke’s for supporting us and dedicating themselves to giving back to the community!
photo credit: Honolulu Pulse
Surfing The Nations has an amazing program called the Ulu Pono Kids program. Ulu Pono means ”To thrive on a righteous path’”. Ulu Pono’s goal is to help the youth of the area find that better path. Through the generosity of Friends of Hawaii Charities, Ulu Pono is able to offer a free after-school program during the school year called ‘Thriving Arts.’ It is through ‘Thriving Arts’ that at-risk youth are given lessons in art, dance, and music. This year, they’ve been studying ukulele and art following the theme of Imagination. Ulu Pono also offers a once a week reading intensive program called ”Genius Factory” where the kids have a reading buddy who helps them build upon their reading skills and other areas of academics. Not only do the kids have a chance to learn, but a chance to develop personally. I have had the privilege of witnessing transformation in these kids. Some of these kids are in very challenging and even harmful environments. I’ve seen children who don’t even have the confidence to speak a single word become bright chatter boxes, I’ve seen children who were known for their unruly behavior become leaders, I’ve seen these kids blossom when given love, instruction and a chance to thrive in their own creativity.
Giving alternatives to destructive lifestyles, holding out good choices to combat the devastating choices is a fundamental principle in effective activism: Don’t simply tear down, but build up. Don’t simply pit yourself against something; let your cause be to change, to transform, to restore.
On November 17th, we will be celebrating the accomplishments of the Ulu Pono kids as they showcase their art accompanied with ukulele performances. If you are in Hawaii, this is a night you do not want to miss. Local well known artists such as Patrick Parker, Clark Takashima ,Nick Welles and Clark Little will be displaying their work alongside the children’s. The night will include free admission, food, a great gallery to browse, vendors, live music and more. Most importantly, it will be a night in which the community gathers to empower the future artists of the island. Come enjoy the evening, get inspired and help cheer on and build up our youth.
On September 1st, people all over the US and beyond gathered to participate in ‘Paddle for Daisy’. Surfers from all over came to show their support and help raise the funds needed by the Merrick family to continue Daisy’s treatment as she fights cancer for the third time in her young life.
We believe this act fully embodies ‘surfers giving back.’ Continue Reading