This is a really good organization that makes a positive impact on the community where ever they go. I was stationed in Hawaii from about 2006 to 2008 as a military service member and volunteered in leadership in a small local chapter of another nonprofit. I was very thankful to have STN president, Tom Bauer, mentor me in this role. I was never a formal part of STN but I was invited and welcomed into their community events, and personally saw the positive work their were doing their food distribution and youth programs. My experience with the people and organization was one of encouragement, and giving, without taking or asking for anything in return. I'm in a graduate nonprofit management class now and in retrospect I am even more impressed. Based on their 990 tax forms, and assuming there is no error, they have to be the only nonprofit I have reviewed during this course that does not have paid staff.
I have been living on Oahu for a couple of years. I remember back in 2010 driving up through Wahiawa to the North Shore and noting how absolutely sketch the area was. The particular area was home to a nasty bar, liquor store, X rated picture shop, “lady” club, and a “house of ill repute.” Some people might consider that a wonderful example of civilization at its finest, but I personally thought the sight of it all was not cool.
I heard that this group, Surfing the Nations (STN), was going to try to move in and clean everything up. I had heard of plenty of these types of endeavors over the years and did not really think these STN guys had a chance.
I left for the war in Afghanistan, and when I came back, my reaction was, “what happened to Wahiawa?”
The place was completely transformed. STN somehow figured out a way to buy up all the nasty businesses and create a nice, regular piece of civilized Hawaii. The local kids were getting free school mentorship and being taught to swim and surf. Plus somebody convinced Walgreens and some other third party players to move in. The place no longer looks like a slum from a Banana Republic with the world’s oldest profession hanging out by the street corner. Upon this revelation, I decided that I was believer in STN. They had done what they set out to do, and it was good.
Now, it is only good if you happen to think the idea of the word’s second oldest profession hanging out on the street corner is bad. Some people might think that the loss of the take-their-clothes-off club, bar, liquor store, etc. is a bad thing. If you are the kind of person who misses the good old days when Wahiawa was known for being a happy place for perverts and drug addicts, by all means, please do not donate to STN. STN will use your money in a creative fashion to continue to ruin your ideal world of child slavery, drug addiction, and alcohol abuse.
Bottom line is that STN is a regular non-profit run by nice people with the intent of helping the community. Helping the community is something that nice people believe very strongly in doing. If you have a problem with the idea of nice people helping their community, please join the communist party USA and do not donate to STN, you have been warned.
While my personal, empirical experience with STN has been positive, some of the reviews on this site would lead one to believe that STN is the second coming of Charles Ponzi. I beg to differ; at least until proven otherwise. I just wish the reviewers: Tadd, ChrisR, and Jacob E, would provide additional information so that their concerns can be taken more seriously.
Here are my responses to each of them.
Tadd refers to STN as a “scam.” This is a very serious legal term that would mean the leadership of STN should be in prison. However, Tadd gives no proof for his serious, reputation-harming charge. If he had something to back up his claim, I would be inclined to believe him, but he does not give any references for farther investigations.
As for the licensed teachers thing, I have never heard of a non-profit after school program that requires a licensing procedure. And since a vast number of the volunteers have bachelor degrees (and beyond), I don’t see the point. Would you prefer STN to pack up and leave the poor kids with nothing?
The Starbucks thing is my favorite, the lame and bizarre attack on the quality of Surfers Coffee Bar did very little to convince me of the complaint that STN is a “scam.” Please use stronger arguments next time. ☺
ChrisR. says some intense stuff too. Personally, I don’t understand why it is a red flag to have a family highly involved in a cause they believe in. I would agree with him perhaps if he could show me that STN never does anything and the Bauers are making millions, but my own eyes tell me differently. My favorite part of the post is when he says, “I could write pages about it but I think my point is made.” Your point is not made, and the fact that you could not even provide a link to a Hawaii Star Advertiser story highlighting the abuse (perhaps because there is no such story) just makes you look intellectually retarded. Maybe you are actually Steve Jobs back from the dead and are brilliant; but please, try to back up your massive claims with more than 6 sentences.
Jacob E. actually wrote a review that had some content to it! Not that I agree with the content, but I thank him for at least attempting to make a coherent argument. His basic idea, as I understand it, is that STN is setup for the soul purpose of making money for the Bauers. I have been trying to do the research Jacob recommended (990’s, etc.) but have yet to find any of the extreme money making operations he describes. Besides highlighting some of the brilliant (and I think recommendable) financial systems used by STN, he also mentions to following. “With Marcus Oshiro sitting on the chair of Finance and Appropriations Commitee, the marriage of State, STNF, and Yamada was in line for the gentrification of Wahiawa, primarily the Ohai district.”
Oh yes, the conspiracy of gentrification! It is almost like they actually intend to follow through on their plans to improve Wahiawa! We must all start stocking up on liquor and X rated pictures immediately as these do gooders might actually end up doing what they have been saying they plan to do the entire time; make the world a better place. A big thanks to Jacob for agreeing with my central thesis, that STN is an organization dedicated to improving places like Wahiawa.
Bottom line is this is a wonderful organization that is actually, physically, making a difference in Hawaii. Some people don’t like positive change, but for the rest of us, STN is an awesome outfit!
Chris R review is an accurate account. STNF was a family partnership STN Tours and Travels which converted to STNF. I have met with the State Representative's Office (Marcus Oshiro) and have been told "I am singing to the choir." Tom Bauer directly lied to me when asked about using a lobbyist to receive state funding; Oshiro's office confirmed STNF (Tom and Cindy Bauer) came into their office with a lobbyist and a big name donor.
Do the research. Read the 990's. STNF is a marketing machine (social media). They bought a 12 apartment building. They receive higher than market value by recruiting Christian students/interns to pay 1300 for a 3 month internship and put them 4 - 6 to an apartment. Look at their reports, 50% is travel and a big chunk of that is recruitment.
Tom and Cindy were booted out of YWAM for years of allegations, took sabbatical on the money of another of their nonprofits (Hawaii's Kids), and then returned to Hawaii. Got Grace Chapel and Jimmy Yamada (BIG DONOR and owner of A1 Electric, the biggest electric contractor in Hawaii) and the rest is history. The state helped them to get the building in Wahiawa. With Marcus Oshiro sitting on the chair of Finance and Appropriations Commitee, the marriage of State, STNF, and Yamada was in line for the gentrification of Wahiawa, primarily the Ohai district.
I reported improprieties in STNF Food Certification and GE License to the appropriate authorities. ALL monies coming into STNF's businesses were considered DONATIONS and ALL employees are VOLUNTEERS (no taxes or employee responsibilities). Oshiro's office set themselves up for a win-win. State gave 150,00 Capital!!! grant.... meaning no responsibility in how they use it. By giving the money, if someone like me pushed the issue there is a stipulation in the laws to have STNF's books opened. If STNF was found fraudulent or innocent Oshiro' office wins. Cindy Bauer told me once that she was concerned about me; I understand now, the crusader gets worn out before the corporation.
The majority of positive reviews are written by STAFF or Christian students who are having a great time surfing and feeding the homeless. STNF is a marketing machine, if you do the research it is easy to see. STNF is using the YWAM playbook, it is very corrupt here in Hawaii. Tom and Cindy Bauer position themselves at all important committees and are respected; the regular person in Wahiawa see the for what they are and smiles when they pick up their free food. In general, STNF has lost respect in Wahiawa.
STNF is a nonprofit to be learned from. The Perfect Scam. if you want to learn how to make millions from nothing, study Surfing The Nations.
Unfortunately, STN is a horrible non-prof. First, all the board members are family, and this should be a red flag. They're breaking the law in a multitude of ways and believe because they are serving the Lord its ok. I was apart of STN for two year, and all those who write positive comments really were keep on the outside and never saw how things were really done. Working with Non-prof's now I look back and laugh at how horrible STN was. I believe if you are a Christian and you know of all the horrible things STN does, you can not support their organization. I could write pages about it but I think my point is made.
ALL REVIEWS WERE WRITTEN BY THE STAFF!!!
What a scam! This is supposed to be a church that is how they scored the property. Same for the coffee equipment they got it for free from Starbucks because they said they needed it for their church, and instead turn around and open a coffee bar. They have been buying up property in Wahiawa claiming to help the community when really all they are is a youth hostel cheating the system. They say they are tutoring children in an afterschool program, first of all any licensed Teachers? Any background checks, finger printing done? They help people from foreign countries get visas and stay in Hawaii to surf. What good do you think they have done for the community? Do you really think you should be supporting this business to look into the STN group and history? This non-profit organization has some incriminating history surrounding (Tom and Cindy Bauer). Tom Bauer spends a lot of time in Starbucks, his place must not be so good if even the owner goes somewhere else to drink his coffee.
This organization taught me what it means to not only love the neighborhood but invest and transforms lives. By meeting basic needs and empowering people they show the community that it is possible for them to rise the challenges of life to impact their own neighborhood and families.
I have been at STN as a volunteer for almost 8 months now and I have a commitment to stay at least 6 more months. This place is an awesome place for reaching out and helping people in need. It is extremely rewarding and the entire concept helps you take a quantum leap in the personal growth. I can't do anything else but to recommend you to send in your application. Expect to help people, have lots of fun and to grow as a person!!
STN is one of the most outward reaching organisations I've been involved with. One of the main reasons I love volunteering here is that its focus is on people, and selfless acts of service. To give whether that be food, hope, love or a smile, is both healthy and fulfilling. Thank you STN
This organization has allowed me to thrive in my strengths and grow as a positive person in this world. By using my love to organize things, I have been able to describe and assign different jobs that are performed by the volunteers at the food distribution. I have also created maps of the different areas where the food is given out. The people I work with encourage, give generously, and see each individual around them by their potential. I truly enjoy working here because of this love and know I am growing into my potential as well.
Review from Guidestar
Within in my personal experience, Surfing the Nations has been a great place for this generation to learn to serve others and feel supported in their gifts, passions and dreams. The Bauer Family have a huge heart for the community and have been very generous with their time and personal sacrifices to help those that are in need. I have been working with STN for the past 2 years and it has truly been the best job I have ever had.
Surfing The Nations is an incredible organization dedicated to giving back and serving the needs of others. They are a self-less community that creates a place for young adults to build each other up and learn how to serve others, putting others' needs before their own. My family and I volunteer for this organization on a continual basis. We feel loved and encouraged by Surfing The Nations, and would encourage anyone to become involved in voluntary work with this organization.
Surfing the nations changes your life and helps you to grow and be able give back and be a part serve others and see peoples life be changed. You learn how to serve others with an unselfish heart. You develop your character and learn how to turn your fears into faith.
Surfing The Nations (STN) is awesome! I first volunteered for one of their international humanitarian trips during the summer to Indonesia. I can confidently say that this nonprofit has changed countless numbers of individuals and family lives. The reason I know is because my life has been changed and matured by serving others as a volunteer through STN. Not only do they have traditional ways of helping communities but creative "out of the box" ways like the Annual Freedom Surf Contest which is a drug free awareness event. Stoked on STN.
Review from Guidestar
Surfing The Nations is one of the best organizations I have ever been involved with. Their open door, open arms approach to reaching out to the community has taught me how to see the needs of those around me and immediatly and practically meet those needs. I have never seen a community transform as quickly as Wahiawa and feel that it is an honour and a joy to be a part of this transformation.
I love STN! Working here has changed my life forever. They are such a great community and dedicated to making Wahiawa a better place for everyone.
Review from Guidestar
My experience with Surfing The Nations has been nothing short of life changing. Their dedication to people is astounding and their programs are focused on growing people of character, hope, and integrity. I would recommend any kind of involvement with this organization, from full-time volunteer to one-time experience.
Review from Guidestar