Mahalo, Friends of Hawaii Charities!
The Hawaiian Islands encompass some of the most beautiful places on earth, and so it makes sense that, to most, Hawaii is widely portrayed as a perfect oasis. But those of us that call Hawaii home know that there is a whole other side to this tropical paradise: a side of homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse, and many other recurring issues. Fortunately, there has been a raised awareness locally around these issues and as a result Hawaiian non-profits dedicated resolve these needs have been on the rise. We are excited to highlight one charity in particular because not only have they substancially helped Surfing The Nations, but countless other organizations as well.
Founded in 1988 with a vision to provide support for local non-profits, Friends of Hawaii Charities has only continued to grow since then and plays a huge part in serving and benefitting Hawaii’s women, children, youth, and impoverished. They raise their funds primarily through one event: the Sony Open In Hawaii PGA Tour golf tournament held each January. Friends of Hawaii Charities and the event’s charity partner, The Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, have generated more than $15,000,000 benefiting hundreds of Hawaii not-for-profit organizations. To summarize their work, they are essentially a vessel, raising money for the purpose of blessing other organizations that need it.
The first time that STN and Friends of Hawaii connected was back in 2008 during the making of the international surf movie “Gum For My Boat”. It was their generous financial donation that got the ball rolling for the production of this movie. Gum for my Boat has made a huge impact – and is continuing to impact – through highlighting and and promoting the ways that surfing can bring hope and restoration to communities all over the world (specifically impoverished countries like Bangledesh). Alongside that, it has been an amazing tool for spreading awareness of Surfing The Nations; numerous people have came solely because they watched Gum For My Boat and then ended up becoming long-term volunteers with STN. All the stories of how this movie inspired people to surf internationally and spread what it means to be a “Surfer Giving Back” are so encouraging and precious to us. We are incredibly grateful for the money that Friends of Hawaii provided to help change the culture of surfing.
Throughout the years, Friends of Hawaii has provided us with numerous grants going towards our outreaches, such as our Feeding The Hungry food distribution. But inevitably the most major way that Friends of Hawaii has helped us is through their financial donations to our Ulo Pono Kids outreach. Ulo Pono (which is the Hawaiian phrase for “To Thrive on a Righteous Path) is an after-school program designed to help the keiki (kids) of Hawaii – specifically in Wahiawa – reach their full potential in a fun environment where doing homework and growing in character is encouraged. Maybe you know a few kids from Ulo Pono, or maybe you have heard stories of the way that this program is helping in the transformation of Wahiawa. But what you may not know is that this program would not have even started if it weren’t for Friends of Hawaii charities: it was in 2010 that the grant money from Friends of Hawaii enabled Surfing The Nations to get the long-awaited idea of a youth-at-risk program up and running. On top of that, they have been faithfully giving us money every year, even going as far as giving extra in order to have an ‘Ulo Pono Summer Program’, enabling us to keep it going all year-round.
All though a “thank you” really isn’t enough, we are so thankful to Friends of Hawaii charities for consistantly and generously helping Surfing The Nations and, in turn, helping improve the well-being of this generation. Binding together with like-minded people is crucial in times like these where there are big dreams and goals to be acheived. We are so encouraged by the help we’ve recieved from Friends of Hawaii and excited to see where the future of both surf culture and the Hawaiian Islands is heading.