It was a big party at the Malibu Wines Tasting Room last Thursday as scores of people enjoyed gourmet fare and wine, musical entertainment, as well as raffles and auctions at the first annual No Leash Required celebration. Attendees also helped raise money for SurfAid International, a nonprofit organization that assists the people of Sumatra through programs, including the teaching of lifestyle changes.
SurfAid was started following a 1999 trip by New Zealand physician and surfer Dave Jenkins to the Mentawai Islands, off Indonesia’s Sumatran coast. Expecting to find paradise, Jenkins found instead children’s graves and “extreme human suffering” due to easily treatable diseases such as malaria. With help from friends, he founded SurfAid, and it has quickly become an international force. Jenkins said the organization works on a corporate business model.
“It’s about social profit,” Jenkins said. “How do we give our donors the biggest return on their investment?”
SurfAid teaches “high-impact, low-cost behavior changes” to the people of these communities. This includes breastfeeding, hand washing, use of mosquito nets and clean water, and consumption of the nutritious foods that surround them.
“I’d be happy enough if I never had to do this ever again,” Jenkins said. “But I also enjoy it because I enjoy giving the opportunity to people to save children’s lives. And I meet cool people too.”
Steven Lippman, whose Blue Project supports SurfAid, was honored at the event. A Blue Project public service announcement highlighting eight oceanic charities, including SurfAid, was premiered.
The evening included a message from philanthropist John Paul DeJoria on the importance of supporting SurfAid. Other speakers included Andrea Yoder Clarke, director of the SurfAid Schools program, and 13-year-old Malibu resident Gracie Pierson, who started a SurfAid Schools program at New Roads.
For more information on SurfAid, visit www.surfaidinternational.org.
By Jonathan Friedman