ENCINITAS — Nerf-surf jousting competitions and other crazy antics notwithstanding, the seventh annual Switchfoot Bro-Am festival was backing a serious cause with the help of a crowd swelling to approximately 8,000 people.
“The Bro-Am has been my favorite day of the year ever since we started it back in 2005,” said Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman. “To see our hometown come together to help out a deserving group of kids is an incredible experience.”
Since its inception in 2005, the Bro-Am has raised more than $400,000 for San Diego-based children’s charities.
“This year we’re honored to be partnering with StandUp for Kids, a nonprofit organization helping homeless and street kids in San Diego for the past 18 years,” Foreman said. The group was the beneficiary of last year’s event as well. “The StandUp Kids are true survivors, unsung heroes who have endured so much.”
Kim Goodeve-Green, center director for StandUp For Kids in Oceanside, said she was grateful for the money that will provide much-needed resources for the homeless youth the organization supports.
“The money raised is great, but for us, it is all about the kids,” she said. “During this event our kids are able to be kids. Not homeless, not hungry and definitely not invisible.”
Goodeve-Green attended the event with dozens of young people serviced by the nonprofit, all-volunteer organization with locations in Oceanside and San Diego.
“The greatest benefit will be that maybe one kid will change their outlook of themselves and believe that they are special and that they can achieve anything,” she said. The young people were outfitted with beach attire donated by local action-sports companies. “They get to feel normal, even if it’s just for a few hours,” she said.
The organization assists young adults — with an average age of 18 — who are homeless. The drop-in center provides meals and shower facilities four nights each week in addition to counseling and other resources.
“They don’t have an opportunity to be kids because they’re always in survival mode,” Goodeve-Green said. “This gives them a chance to relax.”
Joe Armenta, 20, has been involved with the organization since leaving a troubled home life for the streets three years ago. “They’ve helped me finish school, get my birth certificate, get an ID and so many things that got me back on track,” he said. Armenta said he is enrolling in junior college soon and hopes to become a firefighter. “I’m living here today so I’m successful,” he said smiling.
Goodeve-Green said the money raised will go toward providing more resources for the homeless youth, whose numbers have dramatically increased in the last year.
“One thing we really need more of that money can’t buy is volunteers,” she said. “With more people we could serve more meals each week and stay open to serve more kids.”
Many of the volunteers joined the kids during the event. Bob Rota has been donating his time for three years at the Oceanside branch of the organization because he has a passion for street kids.
“We tend to take a lot of things for granted,” he said. “But it grounds you to spend time with people who really appreciate the little things like clothes, food and generosity.”
Linda Ball and Patricia Kattus echoed Rota’s sentiments. “These are good kids who’ve had unfortunate circumstances,” Kattus said. “We’re there for them. Actually they’re there for us.”
Aside from the powerhouse music performances of Switchfoot and other area bands, the event at Moonlight Beach on June 18 featured a team surfing competition as well as an after-party at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach. Team Hurley took home the top honors.
The sun provided all of the energy necessary to power the event. According to Sustainable Waves co-founder Mark McLarry, the company utilizes the renewable energy sources of the sun to deliver 100 percent pollution free concerts. By using solar power rather than a diesel generator or grid power, this particular festival avoided emitting approximately 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That is the equivalent of not driving a car approximately 1,100 miles or the annual sequestration of 66 trees.
The entire roof of the main stage was covered in solar panels while a smaller stage captured enough energy to power vendor booths for the entire festival.
To learn more about StandUp for Kids or to volunteer, visit standupforkids.org.