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: https://vimeo.com/42092209]
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, SaltyBeards.com 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.
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 SaltyBeards.com 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: www.saltybeards.com ]