You Are Here: Nick Rozsa, Social Worker

posted by / Blogs / July 17, 2012

Nick Rozsa

You Are Here, Nathan Myers

He lost everything. Now he’s giving it back.

Nick Rozsa is helping the homeless. It’s interesting because he recently almost was one.

It went like this:

After several years of mistaking drugs and alcohol for pro surfing, Nick’s sponsors called to set him straight. He was standing outside Planned Parenthood when they told him it was over. When his girlfriend came out pregnant, Nick was already crying.

He stopped surfing. He moved home. He swung a hammer for his father. He got fat and hung with Jesus. The story might have ended there, but Nick’s old friend and filmer Chris Papaleo convinced him to go surfing for his camera. At first, he was a fat and slow. But eventually his raw, much-hailed talents began to shine again. He started surfing. [No, really. Check it out:]

They released a web video when a certain 11-time-World Champ watched and tweeted: “Nick Rozsa is the best unsponsored surfer in the world.”

Magically, Nick’s sponsorship returned. His baby was born. His blog boomed. And everything was – for the moment – back to normal. So I met with Nick at his Oxnard condo to ask him what happens next. Nick tells me the waves are flat, so he’s going to spend his summer helping the homeless. Because he almost was one.


SURFING MAG: How are you helping the homeless?
NICK ROZSA: Well, for now, gives 10% of anything we make on our merchandise back to the homeless. I admit that’s not a lot right now, but we’re just getting started. We already sold out of our first run of shirts, and we’re hoping to do hats, sweatshirts, blankets and more stuff.

When you say you’re giving back to the homeless…what exactly are you doing?
Buying them food. Giving them clothes. Stuff like that.

Just randomly?
Yeah, I’ll just go out and get some stuff and bring it out to the place where we know a bunch of homeless guys are living. I’d rather do that than give them money, which they’d probably just take and buy drugs or something.

How did you get started doing this?
Well, after I lost my sponsors I kinda got a new perspective on things. Like, I’d been thinking my life was hard and getting bummed out on stuff, but I really had no idea how hard life really could be. It made me realize how blessed I really was, and from that I really started taking notice of people who were really less fortunate. At first, I was just giving them my leftover lunch or something, but now we’re trying to do a bit more.

Is that how the website came into play?
Well, we’d set a limit of doing five web-isodes and we were just finishing that and starting to think, okay, what’s next? The waves are pretty much around here in the summer, but we still wanted to do something. We thought why not get try to help the homeless.

It’s great what you’re doing, but helping the homeless is a pretty complex issue. Some of them don’t want help. Some of them are just plain crazy. I mean, do you have any idea what you’re getting into?
I know, you’re right about that. We’ve been finding that out just with our first few attempts at videoing with them – one guy was too drunk to talk to, another one nearly attacked us, sketchy stuff. But we’re just trying to approach it with open minds and maybe just learn what we can do to help. Maybe just raising awareness is helpful. People tend to be scared of homeless people when they see ’em out on the street, so maybe if they start to understand that they’re normal people, too, that could be the beginning of helping them out.

That’s a good sentiment, Nick. Good luck with all that.

[Learn more about Nick’s off-the-cuff Helping Beards Project here:

Buy Salty Beards gear to contribute 10% towards half a burrito and a free tee-first for some random hobo. If that’s your thing. Visit: ]

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  • Steve

    Dude rips.

  • brian boy

    the surf industry should back more dudes like Nick rather than the corpo sponsored glory groms

  • adam

    this dude should be nearly as big as Dane. He is that good.

  • bufu

    Can’t help but feel that Mr. Myers was being a bit condescending. Although helping the homeless idea sounds rough it’s the effort that should be commended. Haven’t heard of those big time pros doing anything for their communities other than sponsoring a local grom contest with their names all over it. Well done Nick…. keep spreading the love and ripping.

  • Jack


    Right but how’s helping a few homeless dudes with your name all over it that much different than sponsoring a grom contest? 10% percent is like putting a band aide on a bullet wound. It says exploitation more than help to me. And just giving stuff to random homeless people sounds kind of lazy. Isn’t there a shelter to contribute to? An organization? Wouldn’t that money be better spent helping experts that are donating their lives to this cause rather than embracing it as a blog theme? I think if Rozsa and Papaleo are passionate about it that is awesome but if they are going to profit from the notion of helping homeless people then they ought to be doing everything they can to help.

  • A

    I live around Nick’s stomping grounds. I remember first seeing him in the water (I’m guessing) probably 10 years ago… Sometimes people hit bottom (or just close to bottom) and come back stronger more compassionate and possibly more talented than ever. I (for one) applaud this guy. Here’s to you Nick!! Stay light brother!!!
    -All the best, Anonymous

  • J.D.

    Way to go Nick. Inspirational, your ripping on all fronts. Good on ya!

  • Sweet!

    Dude this is so awesome! Imagine what this guy would do with a little help! God bless. Keep it going!

  • badsheepdog

    Almost homeless sleeping in the Arnolds Parking Lot. Real TALK FX!

  • shark

    Well wasn’t that just a lovely article that shows just how much mr. myers cares about his community! thanks for Degrading someone doing a good thing!

  • Naked and Hungry

    I’m sure many people are wondering what exactly are Nick and Chris’s real intentions and true motivation for going the Salty Beards route…? Is Nick’s main focus still going to be surfing, or is he dividing his focus by trying to help people who don’t really want to be helped? Is this a sham; a media ploy to make Nick look like a “good guy” all the while not really having a solid plan with what he even wants to accomplish….does he really care about the homeless, or is this an image-creating venture with no backbone…?

    Personally, I believe Nick’s true desire is to bring awareness to a segment of the community that most of us (if we are honest) don’t want to think about, much less try and help. He is doing the best surfing of his life right now and continues on an upward trajectory with his gift. And he is using his surfing gift to shed light on a real need in his hometown.

    The fact is that the Ventura community has a serious homeless problem. And yes, there are many drug addicts that are hooked in a downward spiral of addiction (a cycle begun by their own choices) that is stripping them of everything…..very sad!! Others have serious psychological and mental issues that the state can no longer afford (or they just don’t want to take their medications anymore), so they are out on the street tripping…..very sad!! But others still, are entire families of Americans who have found themselves, through unfortunate financial circumstances currently experienced in this country, to be out on the street. There are many people right now living on the streets who do not want to be there. They want to show up to a job, work hard and provide for their families….have a normal life and not have to worry about where the next meal will come from or if they will have a roof over their heads at night in the rain and cold.
    While Nick and Chris are becoming involved in the lives of those less fortunate, I hope they aren’t going to quit surfing and filming full-time to work in a homeless shelter. How can the awareness that they are bringing to the table motivate us to action. What, if anything can anyone really do? There is an organization called “The Harbor” the (website: in Ventura that is mobilizing the help of the community in converting an out-of-business hotel into a place where homeless families can come and receive food and a place to stay while they get back on their feet. There is an education and employment center, a mentoring program, and a clothing warehouse. It is a place not for enabling those that don’t want help, but a place to give a hand up to those that don’t want to remain homeless. Here is their phone number too: (805) 650-7422.
    It would be really cool every once in awhile to maybe see a saltybeards episode where Nick and Chris go to a place like this organization and help out for the day, and interview a family; hear a story of hope….something like that…..
    Keep the surfing front and center-stage though. Nick, train your surfing and hone your gift. It is your voice to give causes like this new awareness.

  • john paul

    nick give ALL of this that you are doing to Christ and do it for him ask Jesus for help he will be the light of your path. all you are doing is Christ in him and through him God Bless

  • Nick Rozsa

    I thought I would take the time to explain a few things to a few people that might not have a complete understanding of what Salty Beards is about.

    Chris Papaleo and I have started Salty Beards in order to raise awarness for the homeless community here in Ventura county. Everything we contribute (10%) towards the homeless community goes towards homeless shelters, food drives, clothing, etc as mentioned on our website and our video “Helping Beards” watch here . As I mentioned above 10% isnt much, but what are YOU doing to help your homeless community. Something is better then nothing and we feel that were giving back as much as we possibly can afford at the moment. Salty Beards is very new and we hope to eventually provide a greater amount of resources towards the homeless community here in Ventura. Everyone honestly needs to ask themselves, whether or not would they be willing to donate 10% of their own earnings towards people that are less fortunate. Imagine the people that would be lifted up if everyone in an entire community donated 10% of what they earn to help benefit others in need. Were not able to put roofs over anyones heads at the moment or able to save lives, but were doing whatever we can to provide food, water, clothing, etc to people who need it more then ourselves. Thats what Salty Beards is all about. Helping others.

  • r. betherson

    While this seems like an altruistic endeavor, it only leads to the following: more open hands looking for handouts.

    If you have a group of men, would you teach them to fish or would you teach them to become fisherman?

    Its easy for me to have this view because I have been homeless and a high school drop out. I turned my life around because people set me straight. I put myself through college and became a licensed engineer. It took me 15 years, but I now give back to local schools. I refuse to give “just to give” or for appearances. I teach for others to grow, not to stay hungry for my handout. I know there is some good that comes with giving, but its result doesn’t hold weight in the long run.

  • zigzag

    Aww poor guy lived such a rough life.. being a paid surfer must be depressing, who wouldn’t do drugs… and what is almost homeless? Sounds like someone needs attention

  • Joe Jackson

    That is a wonderful idea Nick. Count me in. I’m going to take 10% of my earnings this month and get a bunch of Salty Beards gear to help the cause. Can you tell me the names of the homeless shelters and food drives that you work with. I can’t find any information about that on the salty beards website. Would like to check them out first so I know what I’m supporting. Keep up the good work in and out of the water.

  • rogermeras

    wow 10%!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • james

    I am LDS, ‘mormon’. We as church members are taught to tithe, which means 10% of our income goes to the church. People have a really hard time understanding why we do this. Many other churches pass a plate around, and you can put whatever amount you like as a contribution, but tithing is not a requirement….10% is God’s original law, and I do commend Nick for the 10% he is contributing to help the homeless in Ventura. Those criticizing his efforts seem really bitter and juvenile.



    Way to be another pissy pro. We all donate alot more than 10% to the less fortunate.

    THEY ARE CALLED TAXES…. now most of the money is misused by policticians but you wouldnt know that without an education.

    (lack of education is why most, like yourself, end up homeless. BUT surfing is all that matters right groms??)

    The trolls you are providing food to just need it because they used all their FOODSTAMPS ON DRUGS!!!

    So party on with the 90% you two guys get for helping.

    sincerly, a real social worker

  • Teal Ergang

    What does bashing a guy that’s attempting to help others do for all you?

  • Roger Engbert

    Can’t fault anyone for trying to do something good — even if their efforts seem a little uneducated and misguided, they’ll surely learn about the homeless situation by diving in and trying to help. Compassion is the key. And helping others is the best way to feel good about yourself. Thanks SURFING Mag for bringing this shining example to light — perhaps more pros will follow Rozsa’s lead (and props to the many that already do). Doesn’t take much.

  • Cory Pehrsson

    “THEY ARE CALLED TAXES…. now most of the money is misused by policticians but you wouldnt know that without an education.”

    Because he is a “pissy pro” you should know he pays taxes AND is donating 10% of his small business earnings towards something bigger than himself and his family.

    Nick is a doing the best he can with the tools he was given, and I’d say he is doing a damn good job. If the rest of you would stop spending so much time being kooky ass haters and make something happen for yourselves the entire world would be better off.

    Just my 2c

  • Bro

    @r. betherson

    “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

    Get your saying right before you use it in an argument. What you said makes no sense.

    Good going Nick. And no one wants to listen to all the negativity like this FOODSTAMPGUY. If you’re not supporting, your comments aren’t helping anyone or anything.

  • Cavey

    Good on ya, Nick.

    It’s very easy for people to sit back and criticize from the comfort and anonymity of a computer. The fact is saltybeards has an audience and Nick is using it to bring awareness to a problem that is very real in Ventura County. Giving ten percent of a small business is huge! If you have ever owned a small business you would know this. Massive corporations pledge 1% to the environment and are applauded for their efforts. Homelessness is an extremely complicated problem that I doubt anyone on here is equipped to have a real opinion about ie “The trolls you are providing food to just need it because they used all their FOODSTAMPS ON DRUGS”, but then again opinions are like assholes…

    Keep up the good work and keep the surfing video clips coming too.

  • Nick Rozsa

    @FOODSTAMPGUY- Everyone pays taxes, thats an amazing observation, but unfortunately makes no sense as far as what point you were trying to prove. I pay taxes just like any other american living in the U.S. but also like to make donations to people who need food, water, clothing, etc. more then myself. I cant find any reason for anyone to despise this motive other then a few selfish people like yourself. Maybe one day when you step off your high horse, and come to your senses, you will realize those people you call “trolls” are actually humans just like yourself. We all need help from time to time so there is nothing wrong with helping people who need it.

    Didnt know that giving back to homeless people was such a sin. I wasnt aware that buying sandwiches and making lunches to give out to homeless people was an act of selfishness. Like I have mentioned many times again and again donating 10% isnt much and I honestly wish I could donate more, but its only what we can AFFORD at the moment. Everyone thinks being a pro surfer comes with huge salary’s and unlimited amounts of money, but unfortunately its entirely false. Our funds (minimal) that we make go towards more clothing (Shirts, Beanies, Etc.) that we donate to the homeless for free. The 10% funds we donate go towards the homeless shelters here in ventura county (Ventura County Rescue Mission, Our Place Shelter, Etc.). I feel like I dont really need to explain myself any further. Im not looking for some pitty party, or anyone to feel bad for me, but in return to raise an awarness to the industry that there are people in the world that need help other then ourselves. When your focus is only on yourself, things like pride, arrogance, selfishness tend to take over our character and result in haughtiness, and insolence as well as rude comments such as above. Find some time to ask yourself, who do you help besides yourself during the day?

  • jojo

    mr. myers does come off like a bit of a douche. and mr. rosza’s intentions are in the right place, which is really all that matters. how many of you–the haters, the cynics, the naysayers–have ever done ANYTHING for the homeless? it’s really not about the complexities of the larger homeless issue, either. it’s about doing what you can with the means you have, even if that works out to be a couple of sandwiches and some blankets every now and then.

    good on ya, nick.

    and mr. myers, you should work on concealing that patronizing tone.

    your writing has always lacked something. i think it’s called, “sincerity.” which likely explains why you’ve remained an unimportant, mid-tier surf scribe for a good while now.

    nick is a pretty amazing surfer attempting to help people less fortunate than himself in some small way. and you, my friend, are a rather mediocre writer who does what, exactly?

    aiming high as always, mr. myers.

  • 1000 Fathoms

    Some percentage of our population will always be homeless. It’s simply in the cards. Not one person can cure this, nor can any state or the fed. Those living homeless,
    who are not mentally ill can mean that living is just a sad state of affairs. At least the weather in southern california is mild enough where risk to death by exposure is
    limited, and a in and out burger garbage can is around every corner.

    That said, let Nick do what he wants, his heart is in the right place. JUST NEED TO HELP ONE PERSON GET BACK ON THEIR FEET.


  • Todd Proctor

    Bravo Nick!! I am so proud of you!!!!!

  • John paul

    Nick were is God in all this. He is KING and if you want this mission to be successful you and Chris must call on Him he wants to hear from you and the desires of you heart.He started a good work in you and Chris and will be faithful to complete it. Hes waiting and knocking door of your heart God Bless. Is this your calling ask Christ.

  • TeeTime

    Everyone is missiing it. whether it be a sandwhich, a blanket, money, shelter,or just a smile and some time talking, The homeless regardless of their situation and how they got there are human beings and loved by God completely. God said love your neighbor as yourself and when we are hungry do we not feed ourselves? When we are cold do we not wear warmer clothes or use a blanket? When we are lonely do we not crave someones attention or kindness? So these simple and kind things these two young men are doing for the people of the streets is what God calls all of us to do. It doesn’t take much to make a human being feel cared for when really all they are looking for is a little kindness and to be treated like they matter and be shown that someone does care. That goes a long way. Keep up the love guys! Remember the only one you really have to please Is the big guy upstairs and I know he is smiling from ear to ear at you. Enjoy the ride!

  • John paul

    thank you t-time for acknowledging How our God and KING can use use to share his word and love for all his creations for we are created in his image. there is so much to pray for we all get overwhelmed.But lets keep our focus on Jesus Christ the son of the true living God the Father. Keep salty beards in prayer and let Gods truth and word and light shine on. Give all glory and honor to Christ our Savior God Bless nick and chis.

  • John Maher

    Yeah Nick! Nice work man. Stoked to see you in the water, and doing good things for the community. Always post your clips on because they’re some of the best. Your style is so sick!

  • Scott

    I used to work for a salt-of-the-earth COO who’d come from nothing, real humble guy. “We’re all just a few paychecks away from pushing a cart under a bridge,” he said.

    @Jack – what the f*ck? People who are “donating their lives” to this cause aren’t really helping stave off chronic homelessness, are they? Are they? Try to consider another approach, because the status quo (shelter/feed/release) is not working in our nation.

    @Nathan Myers – “If that’s your thing.” C’mon man, don’t you have an editor? Low blow, condescending…by inserting that comment, you’ve invalidated any chance of this being a persuasive piece.