A Family Affair: Opening The Doors To Give Back By Neil Christiansen

Vuori, an active men’s clothing line born out of Encinitas. Give & Surf, an education based non-profit born out of Panama. What do the two have in common? An outsider says nothing, an insider says everything.

I am an insider who recognizes myself in all those connected to the Vuori footprint. Five years ago I embarked on my dream to develop what would become a non-profit providing substantive, hands-on, real world assistance to indigenous communities in Bocas del Toro, Panama. In laymen terms the non-profit, Give & Surf, constructs education buildings that are then utilized to provide ten daily education programs to students from three to sixteen years old in three indigenous communities. We are invested in these underserved communities that, prior to our partnership, had only elementary schools offering inadequate education in unsatisfactory facilities.

The projects and programs of Give & Surf are completed around an island archipelago therefore making the simple very difficult. Getting to school tops the list. Year round Monday-Friday we have two school boats picking up over 140 students, staff members, and a crew of volunteers from a dozen locations on four different islands in less than favorable weather conditions. This is done as a family of staff, community members, and volunteers connected through a mutual love and dedication to bring education into the lives of those we care about. Our goals revolve around deepening our relationships in the communities, rather than having a small impact on a large population. 

Exhibit A: Family. Those at Vuori care. From developing product to deepening personal relationships you can tell thought and love is where it all starts. The end result could be a 4 stretch, versatile pair of performance shorts, a lifelong relationship, or maybe one of the best parties ever.

This past Saturday, the Vuori family shared their new home with none other than 200+ creative and supportive individuals aka the Encinitas community. A store opening party with live music, cervezas, and good grub would have pleased the masses, but true to themselves the family had more than brand recognition in mind. The doors were opened and a collaborative fundraiser event to give back to Give & Surf was arranged. Over 20 locally grown businesses came together and raised $4,140. 

That’s $4,140 towards the gas costs, $13,000/year, associated with transporting over 140 students to education programs they would otherwise not have access to without the school boats, pretty cool. Of note was the relative ease in which something so amazing happened.

Saturday proved something we all know. The “community” of Encinitas is alive, well, and can throw a great party.

"I truly admire and appreciate everyone who was part of this event. Thanks for providing my family in Panama school boat rides for days!" 

Neil Christiansen

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