Today’s blog is from our amazing Ulu Pono Kids Director, Katie Connor. This woman has an amazing (and patient!) heart for the kids on our street – and in my opinion, one of the toughest jobs at STN! She is constantly striving to make the program the best it can be and provide the children with every opportunity possible. However, there is one thing she cannot do – stop the kids from growing up! In today’s guest blog, she explains her plans and hopes for the Ulu Pono Kids program as its members become too old to be called “kids.”
“Ulu Pono Teens” – to this day, the name of this 4 month old program cracks me up. But let me set the stage before I explain why it makes me chuckle so much. The Ulu Pono Kids Program was created four years ago when the staff at Surﬁng The Nations saw a great need to hold an after-school program for the elementary age kids in the local area. The program was an immediate hit and quickly became a home away from home for them.
However, as many of those kids are now in middle school and high school, their interests have changed and most of their younger siblings attend the program. This age gap has caused many of them to drop out as it is hard to engage a 5 year old and 13 year old in the same lesson and social setting. We came to the realization that we needed to go back to the drawing board and create a program that would give the teens a safe place to learn and hang out while appealing to their age group.
Hence, Ulu Pono Teens was created. But at ﬁrst the program was nameless. As a staff, we tried to come up with a name that might appeal to teenagers – Wahiawa Gangstas, Ohai Ballers etc… We decided that at our ﬁrst meeting we would present the names to the kids, let them make their own suggestions, and then cast a vote!
Their favorite was “Ulu Pono Teens,” a name they created and they have shamelessly owned ever since (despite the fact that many are still 11 and 12 years old!). It is a simple name, but it describes perfectly where they have come from, who they are now and even who they are becoming. Although, it still makes me laugh that they didn’t like any of the elaborate names we had created!
To be in Ulu Pono Teens you must be in sixth grade or older, but our oldest kids are only 14 at the moment. Because of their age we have been able to do things that some of the younger kids may not yet be able to do, such as snorkeling, hiking and trips to the museum. Our heart is to show these kids that there is “life” and a future for them beyond their street and neighborhood; that they have the opportunity to follow their passions if they work hard. We also teach them basic leadership principles through simple things like neighborhood clean-ups to help them understand the importance of being upright citizens and members of their community.
We are so proud of these kids and are excited to see them continue to grow and develop into young adults over the next few years. We know that these kids have the power to inﬂuence the future of this community and we are honored to be a part of the continued change happening in Wahiawa, Hawaii.
To keep up with Katie’s personal adventures as the Ulu Pono Kids Director, follow her blog at adventurewahiawa.wordpress.com!
Today’s blog is an update on the Surfers Coffee Bar Kickstarter campaign! They’re doing great things in the Wahiawa community and campaigning to raise funds for a new espresso machine. Can you help them make it happen?
- a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals
- a similarity or identity
- joint ownership or liability
The Surfers Coffee Bar in Wahiawa has seen every one of these definitions of community take form through the generous support of others. Our local and global community has shared in our goal, in our identity as a coffee shop that exists to give back, and taken ownership by investing in our future. We have seen over $11,000 raised out of our $15,000 goal! Now, we only have 6 days left of the Kickstarter campaign. We are still in need of the last few thousand dollars to make the necessary purchases to keep our work in the community going. Please take some time to check out the campaign, give what you can, and tell your friends about it! Thank you for your help!
Your Surfers Coffee Bar Ohana
*As defined by the Oxford dictionary
Some blogs – admittedly – can make us feel less than thrilled with our own lives: all that we see featured is the best of the best, the good times, the perfect images, the things to be proud of. If anyone has a unique and blog-worthy life, it’s The Grommom‘s Monica Swanson. Living on the North Shore of Oahu, Monica blogs about her life as she raises and home schools four energetic board-riding boys. You can imagine that she has a lot to blog about on any given day, and Monica could easily make her life look perfect, but she chooses to write with a fresh transparency that lets us glance into both the beauty and the struggles of her life.
The topics covered on the Grommom are widespread: motherhood, health, fitness, food, surfing, Hawaii, and entertaining are just a few you’ll find (not to mention, some great giveaways!) Monica’s posts are always sure to uplift and inspire her readers, but perhaps one of the best reasons to read the blog is that I have personally met her and can say that whatever she is doing is working (and I am not just talking about her soup recipes). Her eldest son was part of last year’s STN trip to Indonesia in July. The way he and his brothers interacted with all the new people they were meeting here at STN and with each other was heartwarming and rare. The Grommom blog is excellent, but then it’s easy to see how an excellent blog can be the overflow of the amazing journey that Monica has dedicated herself to as a Mom. You will want to get this woman’s advice, you will want to hear what inspires her, you will want to take the chance to share in her life as she goes through the joyful moments and the rough spots.
Monica puts her heart and soul into her work on the Grommom, but the overarching theme of her blog lies far beyond the laptop: it’s about the people in her life. There are a lot of things that we busy ourselves with that can define us, like where we live, our careers, our activities, but even living in a Hawaiian island doesn’t constitute paradise. Monica reminds us that true paradise is found in the relationships we have. That’s the paradise that you don’t have to get on plane to find: the one that is found in your child’s eyes, in your mother’s voice, in your best friend’s laugh, in your spouse’s embrace. You can’t find room for it on pinterest, or recreate it with any amount of words. That is the paradise that Monica lives in and shares first and foremost.
Go ahead and add The Grommom to your bookmark bar – you won’t want to miss a post!
Photo courtesy of Monica Swanson.
Thirty-two interns and six staff members are on the island of Kauai for the next 10 days! They will be bonding as a team through work projects in the community and activities like camping and hiking. The main focus is to serve the people of the island of Kauai and help meet the needs that are there.
The team will also be speaking at local high schools in the area and working with STN Kauai. (Did you know there was an STN Kauai base? More info to follow!)
We are stoked to send out our internship and watch them grow in leadership and selflessness as they live the lifestyle of ’Surfers Giving Back’.
Follow STN on facebook and twitter at @stn1040 for updates along the way!
Want a little taste of what Kauai is like?
Although we won’t be going on helicopter rides or lounging on a beach the whole time, the island of Kauai is definitely one of the most beautiful places we’ve seen, so we want you to share in it too. Here is a honeymooner’s view:
Last month, we had a new surprise addition to the STN buildings.
Carson Myers, longtime friend and staff member at STN had been sneakily putting together a room where the artists of STN could create in their free time. Through Carson’s vision and hard work, the back of a run-down house became ‘The Back Room’ and Carson held an opening party to celebrate.
We love this room and are excited to see the amazing creations that come out of there. Thanks Carson!
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If you are a Hawaii resident and you shop at Foodland, the Give Aloha gift matching program is an easy way to contribute to the work of Surfing the Nations.
At the checkout, you may pick the Hawaii non-profit charity of your choice to make a donation of up to $249, and Foodland will match that donation.*
Simple! Just let them know you are donating to Surfing the Nations, ID number 78555.
For more details visit:
Thank you for helping us bring positive change and hope to communities here and across the globe!
*PLEASE NOTE: Whoops! We weren’t completely accurate in our information on the give aloha program.
Foodland does NOT match donations dollar for dollar. Instead, this is how it works: (from the give aloha website):