Skiers havenâ€™t always been known for their philanthropic efforts, but Alpine Initiatives, a non-profit started by JP Auclair and a few other skiers, hopes to direct some of the endless energy of the ski community toward the greater good.
Earlier this year, JP Auclair joined forces with Chad Fleisher, Mike Hovey and Seth Koch to form Alpine Initiatives, a non-profit whose mission is to â€œeducate, empower, inspire, promote health and wellness among those less fortunate.â€
For its first project, AI is working with International Peace Initiatives to help finish an orphanage in Kenya.
We sat down with JP for a little Q&A on the project, to get the scoop.
FS: So give us the background on AI? How did it get started?
JP: For years I always had it in mind that I wanted to do humanitarian work. Iâ€™d been thinking about it, but not taking action. Itâ€™s the kind of thing where a lot of people think about it, but years go by and they havenâ€™t done anything. Thatâ€™s how it was for me, too.
About a year ago, I was thinking about it more and more, and at first I just started really talking about it to other people. Itâ€™s still not doing it, but it was getting the ball rolling. I said something to Mikey Hovey, who I had met through guide school in 2007, this winter when I saw him. He told me that his mom had been in touch with International Peace Initiatives, which had this project going on it Kenya.
I thought maybe Iâ€™d just show up and bang some nails, and itâ€™ll be all set up. But you canâ€™t just show up for two weeks and leave. They want you to do more, to get organized, put some effort into it, to raise money. Itâ€™s the kind of deal that takes over six months to put together properly. So thatâ€™s why we started Alpine Initiatives.
FS: So whatâ€™s the main priority now?
JP: Right now, itâ€™s raising money. Weâ€™re trying to raise $20,000-$100,000.
FS: How are people reacting?
Itâ€™s been amazing. A lot of people want to help but they feel bad because they canâ€™t come to Africa. But there are other things people can do, especially helping to raise money.
Between everybody that weâ€™ve met though skiing, we all have different skills. If we all team up, we can do pretty much anything we want. Iannick B. helped with the site. Anthony Boronowski is going to do some PR, which is what heâ€™s studying at school.
We got an email from this guy in Seattle who wanted to put together an art show and donate the profits to Alpine Initiatives. Also, Zach Davison, the Armada team rider, got in touch with me wanting to help, but he couldnâ€™t go to Africa either. So I put him in touch with the guy from Seattle. Theyâ€™re working on it, and doing it through Evo (a shop in Seattle). Anthony Boronowski is giving some paintings away, and some other skiers may as well. Theyâ€™re going to do a silent auction, maybe on the October 11, on the same day as the Seattle premiere of Reasons.
Everybody has different skills. There are so many proactive people in skiing people who want to help and have energy, but donâ€™t have the outlet. Alpine Initiatives is a platform to go use that energy and desire to help. The Kenya project is just our first of hopefully many.
FS: Whatâ€™s been the best part so far?
JP: Itâ€™s been really cool to bring people together and get them working together. This project that we made to give to other people is really bringing friends closer together. Its already been amazing, but we havenâ€™t even done the main trip yet. Already itâ€™s having a huge effects on our lives.
FS: Whatâ€™s next?
JP: We thought it would be too bad, and it felt too good, to stop it after our trip to Kenya. We started to think that maybe we can keep it together and every year gather the ski community and get everybody together to work on one project per year. Now we have this platform to unite everybody together.
I want to work out some type of partnership deal. I want that logo to become really recognized, so that a company that supports Alpine Initiatives would benefit from being affiliated with AI. If a company decides to become an official sponsor, they would also get the right to use our logo so they can show people that they are socially active and responsible.
For more information, or to donate, go to Alpine Initiatives