Volcom and PHA: The Irrational Pursuit

What connects Volcom and Project Hope Alliance? Most people would miss it at first glance. But then, at first glance they would also miss (and probably dismiss) much of what makes Volcom — the international skate, surf, and snow brand — unique, as they would miss (and dismiss) the potential of the homeless students we serve.

Project Hope Alliance (PHA) has been serving homeless children in one form or another since 1989. And over the last 5 years, we’ve been able to end homelessness for over 850 children and parents here in Orange County. In the last 2 years we’ve expanded our educational programming, working directly with homeless students on campuses in the Newport-Costa Mesa School District. This year, Volcom helped 41 of our high school boys and girls start 2018 fresh.

When your family is homeless, new clothes are a luxury pushed aside for the necessities: rent, food, maybe some school supplies. When you don’t get hand-me-downs for your new jacket or pants, clothes are often second hand. The contrast between what should be normal and your life is never greater than when you go back to school from Christmas break. While other kids are showing off their gifts, you’re doing your best to be invisible.

This year, our kids will get to stand out.  By providing each student a new pair of pants, shirt and jacket in their size, Volcom has given our students one less thing to worry about, and one more thing they can be proud to wear. With one less reminder about the circumstances of their life, our kids can spend more time focused on their passions.

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Volcom and PHA both know that circumstances should never have to define who we are, and especially who we can be. In the Irrational Pursuit, the Volcom Ambassadors share how they transformed themselves to overcome the negative expectations people had of them to create and pursue their own passions; to be driven by their frustrations, not be defeated by them; to find themselves by escaping beyond their circumstances.

We couldn’t agree more.

Our hope is to bring the same passion that drives Volcom to our kids, and let them explore the full potential in their lives.

Motel Living at UCI

There are places around us we don’t seriously associate with homelessness or being short on food. Our universities, those bastions of higher learning and aspiration are certainly one of those places, although that shouldn’t be the case.

Perhaps the cliché of a starving college student taking on an all-night study sessions fueled by ramen has numbed us to the reality facing too many students. Or maybe it’s our parent’s memories of college being a time of deprivation and struggle that we all understand this experience is just the way college is supposed to be. In either case, the seriousness of homelessness and hunger on college campuses is being deflected, making it all the harder for students facing these challenges to have their needs addressed.

Homelessness during college isn’t a small problem. A June article of the LA Times revealed that 1 in 5 students in the Los Angeles Community College District are homeless.[1] When put in perspective with Orange County, which has a higher percent of homelessness among students in the K through 12 population than Los Angeles (5.8% in OC to 4.0% in LA), to think this issue does not affect OC, or is only limited to community colleges, is naiveté bordering on negligence.

Enter the University of California, Irvine (UCI). Armed with an understanding of the struggles students face, UCI brought together community partners such as Project Hope Alliance, Whole Foods Market, and others for a week dedicated to addressing homelessness and hunger on campus, aptly called Homelessness and Hunger Awareness Week (HHAW). For 5 days students will be able to contribute to food drives, participate in activities around campus raising awareness, and get hands on by making meals for shelters with food donated from Whole Foods Market.

To help convey the reality of homelessness facing Orange County, Project Hope Alliance was invited to bring on campus 214 Sq. Ft, a motel room art installation. The room was inspired by a motel Project Hope Alliance CEO, Jennifer Friend once lived in with her parents and three brothers growing up.

“We wanted to remove any abstract idea that students might have about what it means to be homeless,”
— Jennifer Friend

“We wanted to remove any abstract idea that students might have about what it means to be homeless,” said Jennifer. “Homelessness isn’t just people who live on the street. It’s a cycle that spans generations if it isn’t disrupted.”

The motel room is on display at the University’s Student Center in the Viewpoint Gallery. A particularly fitting venue for the work, since it was originally conceived across campus at UCI’s Claire Trevor School for the Arts with Professor Luke Cantarella.

[1] http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-homeless-community-college-20170628-story.html

Around Town: The Shamba Walk Will Aid Project Hope Alliance

The Daily Pilot

(September 6, 2017) -- The Shamba Way, a gym in Costa Mesa, and Project Hope Alliance, a Costa Mesa-based nonprofit that helps the homeless, plan a benefit walk for 8 a.m. to noon Sept. 16 at Newport Harbor High School, 600 Irvine Ave., Newport Beach. The event aims to raise $10,000 for Project Hope Alliance... (read more)

Havana Nights Benefiting Project Hope Alliance

Greer's OC

(September 1, 2017) -- Come celebrate with all of your favorite chefs from Newport Beach Wine and Food 2017 at a Havana Nights After Party at fantastic private estate in Newport Coast on Saturday, Sept. 30 from 8 to midnight for a night of Latin cuisine, Cuban cigars, tropical drinks, live Cuban music, and a silent auction benefiting Project Hope Alliance... (read more)

Hope At Hurley Raises $4,000 For The Kids!

Hope At Hurley Raises $4,000 For The Kids!

On Saturday, August 26, our community reunited to support artists and the kids and families we serve. A dozen Southern California and international surf artists generously donated their work to Hope At Hurley, which took place at Hurley HQ—right across the street from our own headquarters. Guests scored the opportunity to take artworks home with them via a silent auction, which benefitted Project Hope Alliance.

Newport Beach Havana Nights: Wine & Food 2017


(August 30, 2017) -- From Newport Beach Wine and Food: Come celebrate with all of your favorite chefs from Newport Beach Wine and Food 2017 at a fantastic private estate in Newport Coast for a night of Latin Cuisine, Cuban Cigars, Tropical Drinks, Live Cuban Music, and a Silent Auction benefiting Project Hope Alliance... (read more)