When it comes to family and giving, Dora Martinez has been there and done that.
With 15 children she’s hardly ever alone. But now at the age of 96, she’s the one that enjoys an occasional helping hand and a good meal with friends.
Dora is one of hundreds of people who show up at Palama Settlement on a regular basis to enjoy a good meal thanks to the organization Surfing The Nations.
It’s a nonprofit that’s been distributing food for the Hawaii Foodbank for nearly two decades. Cindy Bauer founded Surfing The Nations.
“There’s approximately 600 families we will be serving today,” Bauer said. “And if you conservatively multiply that by five but I’ll give you roughly about 3,000 people on this particular day.”
Bauer founded Surfing The Nations 20 years ago to help mentor at-risk youth, teaching them how to surf and swim.
Distributing food is the giant wave everyone can ride.
“A girlfriend and I went to the food bank and said we want to get food to the poor,” Bauer said. “And I remember they said okay and they loaded up enough food for seven families. And I literally hand-delivered it to their doors.”
Today she says the organization helps distribute about 20 to 30 tons food every month, serving as the largest distributor for the Hawaii Foodbank.
“Never forget those days of small beginnings and the people that we’ve now been able to keep sustainable in their homes and keep electricity on,” Bauer said.
And when asked what she gets out of her generosity, the tears come before the words.
“I think when I see the joy of the people coming together because we try to do this is an event rather than just feeding because we care about the people all the people that I see here are all ‘ohana to me,” Bauer said.
She’s also quick to point out she doesn’t nor could she do it alone.
“Our volunteers with Surfing The Nations come from around the world one of the most exciting days for them is to come down here and be part of the feeding the hungry program because this is a place we really get to touch and care about the people,” Bauer said.
“She’s inspiring because her love for the people the way that she cares about the people in the community in Kalihi or Wahiawa and this whole island and everything she does is for other people,” Amanda Bryant, a volunteer from Colorado said.
“It’s more than giving food it’s giving life,” Bauer said. “And that saying these people matter but they are of value in there a valuable part of our community and it’s important to keep them sustainable and the joy of it all is getting to be a part of their lives are amazing people.”