Warm Front

Portland surfers ride a tide of goodwill

July 6, 2011

You know the story. A group of saltwater junkies depart on a surf odyssey down the coast of the Americas seeking the perfect wave, cheap beer, and an endless summer. But instead they stumble onto enlightenment in the form of benevolence. And upon their return, they chart a course that promises to add a splash of joy to the lives of underprivelaged youths in forgotten coastal villages. Wait you haven’t heard this one? Let me get you up to speed.

In 2008, while road tripping in Peru, the founders of the Portland-based non-profit Warm Current took painful note of the disparity between themselves (affluent Americans sporting tricked out surf gear and disposable Benjamins) and the local communities they encountered— especially kids—that could barely afford to put sandals on their feet, let alone score some neoprene to warm their hides in the chilly water. Once back home, the group began rounding up used wetsuits, surfboards, and other seaworthy gear to ship back to the communities where they had surfed. The goal? To help local kids ride the once inaccessible waves in their own backyard.

The Faces of Warm Current from Warm Current on Vimeo.

You could say things have gone swimmingly. Today, Warm Current is a self-funded 501©3 nonprofit run by a few surf-happy friends who want to share their stoke with others who might not otherwise get the chance. And to date they have donated more than 250 wetsuits to underserved communities around the world including Peru, Chile, Morocco, and Mexico. Meanwhile, back in its home waters, Warm Current also puts on local kids surf camps here in the Pacific Northwest that are targeted at underserved and at-risk youth.

So now that we’re all feeling warm and fuzzy, how can you lend a hand? Start with your face. Tomorrow during First Thursday in the Pearl, Warm Current members will be out in support of their first-ever fundraising effort, Faces of Warm Current. Here’s how it works. Stop by their booth on the corner of NW 13th and Flanders and fork over $5. In return you’ll get a get professional shot of your mug and a "square" that contains your photo (or your chosen message) that will adorn a Faces of Warm Current mosaic on the side of the group’s kids surf camp trailer (used to haul all the gear to the beach) via the campaign website.

Donors also walk away with the photo which they are free to use for any social media service—not to mention the satisfaction of contributing to a kid’s chance to have the endless summer, and maybe, just maybe, the opportunity to catch the perfect wave.

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