Meet The First Lady of ISLA

Posted on: October 23rd, 2014 by Henry Reyes No Comments
ISLA First Lady

Julia Reyes with ISLA Marine Safety Officers


Julie, How did you first get started with ISLA?

I got involved with ISLA, I’d say in some way at the concept stage. When Henry talked to me about an idea he and a few friends had, of going down to Nicaragua to volunteer as lifeguards, I thought…”that sounds cool”… without truly realizing the power and passion behind their undertaking. What seemed like just an “idea”, the way most people talk about ideas, turned into an inspirational and impressive mission and organization. I got started with ISLA when a brilliant group of lifeguards, one of which I can now call my husband, packed their bags, buoys and fins, and made the trip to Nicaragua to help save lives during one of the busiest weekends of the year.

What interested you most about ISLA and where have you traveled in your ISLA adventures?

My ISLA adventures began in Ecuador, when Henry was asked to join another lifeguarding organization in a trip to Ecuador to support local guards during the Carnival holidays in February of 2008, he asked if I would come, and of course I jumped at the opportunity. ISLA co-sponsored this effort and I had designated myself as a Spanish translator… How else was I expected to feel useful since I wasn’t a lifeguard? I have to say, I felt pretty proud and honored to have facilitated some inspiring and enjoyable conversations that helped build long lasting relationships between our American volunteers and the Ecuadorian hosts. I went on to join the teams to Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, South America, and Macedonia. All of which have led to adventures that are worth much more than the money spent out of our pockets to realize this mission.

Julie Reyes

Julie cascading with ISLA President and volunteers in 2011


What do you love most about volunteering for ISLA?

Volunteering with ISLA has been a truly fulfilling humanitarian journey, one that has enabled me to travel to places I probably never would have planned to visit. I love the incredible people I have met in these new places, the cultural immersion and the unexpected adventures that add color and smiles to the stories we are able to share after each trip.

What has been your favorite beach to visit?

My fave has to be the wonderfully warm and emerald green waters of the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean.

What do you do outside of volunteering for ISLA?

ISLA and volunteering have been the pinnacle of my world travels and adventures, nonetheless, there is another important facet in my life that keeps me busy and well-versed in business and the day to day. When I’m not spending time with my family and close friends, I’m working at one of the leading Hispanic Advertising agencies, managing the top Automotive brand in the U.S. As an advertising professional, I am able to leverage my knowledge of sales and marketing to bring new insights and perspective to ISLA’s growing demands, and I hope to continue to be an asset to the team of movers and shakers who keep it growing stronger every day.

Julia Reyes Copilot

Going for a ride in Seven-One-Four-Golf-Mike


What does the future hold for ISLA?

ISLA’s fans, volunteers, and supporters are the fuel that keep it moving closer and closer towards making lifesaving and ocean-safety possible around the globe. The future of ISLA is clear and focused, as long as we are all committed to giving of ourselves and our available resources to those countries and communities that are open to keeping this mission alive.

Tell us something about the ISLA President that most people don’t know.

Well, I can tell you a whole lot about Henry! But all you need to know, is that he is a fierce and passionate entrepreneur, a world-class lifeguard, and one hell of a friend (and in my case, a husband beyond compare!).

Julia Reyes Nicaragua

Julie with ISLA Team Nicaragua 2012


As the First Lady of ISLA what do you intend to do next?

I want to help increase and strengthen awareness about this amazing organization and cause. I will look for ways to spearhead efforts that will open doors for ISLA to obtain sponsors and donors so that all requests for equipment, volunteers and trainings can be fulfilled.

Describe yourself in 3 words.

Inspired, selfless, humble.

- Julie Reyes

Fundraiser at The Deck

Posted on: September 8th, 2014 by islasurforg No Comments

Come join us at The Deck in Hermosa on Sunday, September 14th for an ISLA fundraiser!

The Deck

We are raising money for: The Bahia Asuncion Lifeguard and Jr. Lifeguard Program! Our lifeguard team heads out on October 2nd, to Bahia Asuncion, Mexico to teach a junior lifeguard course! Learn more about our Bahia Asuncion trip!

Bahia Asuncion
Location: The Deck on the strand in Hermosa Beach.
Time: Daytime! Starts at 1pm!
What you get: $20 person for a wrist band for alcohol and some grub!
Sponsors: Anheuser-Busch
Transportation: From SD and OC to Hermosa.  Locations and Pick up times TBA.
DJ: Mike Wurzel
Are you ready? Join us at The Deck! We will have Flip cup, volleyball, a dodgeball tournament, and of course…some fun in the sun!


The Next Generation of ISLA

Posted on: August 23rd, 2014 by olin patterson No Comments


With the ISLA Surf Shop, members save money on surf products, while proceeds support drowning prevention and lifesaving efforts.

ISLA Members get their lifesaving kit, epic deals on surf products, and exclusive updates on ISLA operations around the globe.

In the beginning we were a handful of friends who wanted to take our knowledge of lifesaving to places that needed lifeguards the most. We scrounged, bummed, and fundraised the best we knew how to make our first international trip a reality at a place we heard needed it the most. That was the first year. From there momentum seemed to come from the most unlikely places as we continued to grow in the most unimaginable ways. Presentations to US Congress, meetings with monarch royalties, international media coverage, are all just a few of the countless milestones we’ve achieved in working in over 13 countries. The ISLA family has grown to be a strong and passionate group of volunteers worldwide. It has been a wild six years, filled with immense ups and downs, and a lot of intensive but rewarding hard work.

We are grateful there is an ever-growing need for the service ISLA provides around the globe, and we are eager to see that need is met in every way possible and for the decades to come. So how do we ensure the mission of ISLA is fulfilled? And more important, how do we preserve that model to ensure it grows to meet the ever-growing demand for lifesaving programs for decades to come?

We’ve been intensively hard at work behind the scenes for nearly the past year to answer that question: Enter the next generation of ISLA.

We are putting our resources to work. We are putting our contacts to work. We are putting our hundreds of volunteers and our tens of thousands of loyal fans to work. We are all in in making a sustainable and scalable enterprise that benefits our mission and to everyone that wants to make a difference in the world we live in. We’ve launched an online store and membership that relate to each other to bring the most benefit to our customers, members and most important our ISLA operations.

We’ve negotiated the best deals and prices in premium surf, lifesaving and adventure products. We’ve also aligned affordable warehouse space, an army of workers, and marketing grant funds to ensure great profit margins for products sold on our new online store that are forwarded to ISLA operations and cost savings for our members. Be on the lookout, as we’ve also been traveling across the country to some of the largest brands to secure their products in our store as well. In the coming year, you’ll find one of the most diverse product selections of surf, lifesaving and adventure products online. All with unbeatable members prices, customer service, and guarantees, while your purchases fund ISLA projects.

As a member, you’ll receive our membership kit, updates from projects around the globe, and automatic premium discount prices on some of the best surf and adventure products in the market. You’ll benefit with saving money when you shop, making a difference with what you are buying, while supporting a scalable business model that enables ISLA operations to expand exponentially.

Join us in being a member and seeing first hand the work that is being done. Shop ISLA surf shop and save while contributing to the ISLA operations. Lastly, tell your friends and family how a business model like this can benefit you while making lasting change around the world.

This is where you enter the ISLA story that is still just beginning. Welcome to our family!

ISLA Storms the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market

Posted on: August 23rd, 2014 by Henry Reyes No Comments

OR Summer Market

Since the launch of the ISLA Surf Shop less than two months ago, we’ve seen thousands of dollars in revenue. This makes our online store ISLA’s most profitable fundraiser to date! In order to keep up with the demand for additional products in time for the upcoming holiday season, we sent a team of merchandisers to Salt Lake City, Utah to attend the Outdoor Retailers Summer Market.

ISLA volunteers Henry Reyes & Julia Sanchez scoured the Salt Lake City Convention center for three days, connecting with current partners and meeting new ones, building relationships that will open new roads and new opportunities for ISLA to fund so many new projects and create a sustainable means for supporting our water safety initiatives around the globe!

Outdoor Retailer Summer Market

“Sharing the ISLA mission never gets boring.  I love retelling the stories about our twenty plus humanitarian projects because it not only brings a smile to their faces, I see how they open up and embrace it.” – Henry

The three-day hustle was no walk in the park for our volunteers.  With no travel budget, and a work schedule of 7am to 7pm back-to-back-to-back, the trip had a strategically orchestrated agenda in order to hit those key contacts.  Tons of free tote bags, keychains, lip balms, protein bars later, and contacts, we can call it a successful weekend for sure!

“While still providing our supporters with great deals, our ISLA Surf Shop is also able to generate a margin that goes directly to funding ISLA’s operations. Our goal at Outdoor Retailer was to make sure we nail-down the deals so that our members get at least a 20% savings on the products they want!”- Julie


Coming Soon to the ISLA Surf Shop!!!

About the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market:
Summer Market is the largest outdoor sports and adventure show of its kind.  Retailers from around the world come to Summer Market for the largest collection of innovative gear, apparel, footwear and accessories for outdoor sports products including adventure travel, backpacking, camping, hiking, climbing, mountaineering, cycling, mountain biking, fishing, fly fishing, health and fitness, military, nutrition/natural products, paddlesports, watersports, SUP, pet products, running, trail running, surf, skate, lifestyle, triathlon, multisport endurance, and the newest category yoga/Pilates.

I Got Into Lifeguarding To Help Make A Difference

Posted on: June 18th, 2014 by islasurforg No Comments

Get to know our volunteer lifeguard, Silver Fox, and Fireman, Steven Vaughan! He joined ISLA on our trip to the Dominican Republic for the wild weekend of Easter (Semana Santa)! As Steve says, “Don’t let the grey fool ya!”



When did you start lifeguarding?

I started lifeguarding in 1980. At a place called Meads Pool, look it up, it’s on Facebook.


What got you into lifeguarding?

I got into lifeguarding to help make a difference, but mainly to educate the community about water safety and to help reduce water related injuries.


Where have you lifeguarded around the world?

Just the USA, and as of April, Cabarete, D.R.


What was the ISLA Dominican Republic trip like?

I had the honor and privilege of being selected for Semana Santa, Dominican Republic. It was an awesome experience with an awesome crew. Our job was to educate an all girl’s school about water safety and lifeguarding, which was a success, and our main objective and priority was zero drowning’s during Semana Santa, also a huge success. It was also about focus, excellent situational awareness, and awesome teamwork!!


What interested you most about ISLA?

Anything dealing with lifeguarding is certainly going to interest me. I was impressed with what the program was about( making a difference, education, and prevention) and I decided that it would be a great experience, to meet new and awesome people that share the same passion as me. It was also an opportunity to learn other lifeguarding and water safety techniques. I honestly didn’t think I would be selected because of my age, but fortunately, I was selected.


What do you love most about volunteering for ISLA?

First, The difference that we made with educating several people about water safety, especially with the Mariposa School. There were lots laughter, happiness, and smiles, these children loved every minute of the program. Second, zero drowning’s during Semana Santa, Saturday was overwhelming, but our team persevered and overcame some barriers to adapt to the surroundings and get the job done.


Why are you a lifeguard?

That’s a good question, since we all know that this job and the water can be unforgiving, tiring, and very demanding. But lifeguarding can be such a great positive influence on everyone. It helps promote a team oriented environment and a better sense of situational awareness.


What inspires you?

Teamwork, working together to help others and to overcome obstacles/barriers/problems, positive results.


What do you do outside of volunteering for ISLA?

I work for the Elizabeth City Fire Department, (28 years) assigned to Ladder Company 1, lifeguard on a small beach for Coast Guard Base Elizabeth City. I am also a member of Pasquotank Providence Volunteer Fire Dept.



Favorite piece of rescue equipment and Why?

I don’t really have a favorite piece of rescue equipment, but I know the importance of rescue equipment and use it as much as possible, especially the can.


How will you continue to prevent drowning?

It will always be education and prevention, especially with the children.


What is your hope for drowning prevention?

Of course I’m going to say that I hope it continues and keeps getting better, especially with education and prevention. It looks like we will have to use more technology to reach out to our younger electronic generation.



Of course Lifeguarding, but it’s more like my passion. Sailing, scuba diving, and soccer.



Associate degree in Fire Protection Technology and a Bachelor degree in Occupational Safety and Health


My goals in life?

To keep lifeguarding as effectively and safely as I can, I’m getting old you know, and to take care of my family and friends.



Teaching lifeguarding.


Favorite Sport?

Soccer, of course….is there any other sport?


Favorite music?

Classic rock and some modern rock.


What is your favorite beach?

Well… now it’s Cabarete, Dominican Republic.


Describe yourself in 3 words.

Dedication, determination, and empathy.


Want to join our team?

We’re looking to add more people to our volunteer team. Are you someone with the desire to travel the world? Someone passionate about helping others? Are you interested in volunteering for an organization that changes the lives of thousands of people around the world?

Apply to join our team of International Lifeguards!

2014 ISLA Junior Lifeguard Scholarship Winner

Posted on: June 12th, 2014 by islasurforg No Comments

We are proud to say that for our third year of the ISLA’s Junior Guard scholarship, we were blown away with the number of applicants we had! ISLA would like to thank everyone who applied and for sharing your inspiring videos with us. Our only regret is that we weren’t able to give every applicant a full junior lifeguard scholarship.

The winner of the 2014 scholarship is Zeia Rose, a nine year old girl from Mammoth Lakes, California. Zeia would like to follow in her father’s, grand father’s and uncle’s footsteps by one day becoming a lifeguard. Zeia is also passionate about the ocean and helping others and believes that becoming a Jr. Guard is the first step.

We are excited and can’t wait to check in on Zeia throughout the summer season. We’ll be compiling a photo album series that highlights her junior lifeguard experience.

Although a video was not required for this years applicants, Checkout Zeia’s video scholarship entry.

ISLA Jr. Lifeguard Scholarship Award Winners:

2014 ($625 tuition award): Zeia Rose, 9 years old from Mammoth Lakes, CA.
2013 ($575 tuition award): Lauren Schlick, 15 years old from La Mirada, CA.
2012 ($575 tuition award): Richard Ramirez, 12 years old from Montebello, CA.
2012 ($575 tuition award): Gabriela McCain, 15 years old from Costa Mesa, CA.


2012 JG Video Series:

Part 1: Meet the Winners

Part 2: First Day of Junior Guards

Part 3: Pier Jumps and Pier Swims

Part 4: Graduation