Jacó Impact: Making Waves in Ways that Matter
Born and raised in the neighboring port city of Puntarenas, Yorgina Ureña has been part of the Jacó community for almost a decade. As a young girl, she was easily inspired. Driven by passions of art, design and dance, Yorgina walked through life with a creative spirit. Nothing allowed as much self-expression, however, as her natural surroundings. A love for the ocean and the beautiful coastal environment captivated her swiftly and she spent most of her childhood on a boogie board.
After leaving her family home at age 18 to work in a Guanacaste hotel, Ureña found herself surrounded by some of the best waves in the country. Taking almost every lunch break to spend a few fleeting moments of fun on her boogie board, she soon started experimenting with a surfboard. What began as an afternoon work break quickly became an obsession. Nearly 18 years after Yorgina’s first day on a surfboard, she still finds herself enjoying the sport that has brought her a unique and “blessed lifestyle.”
Jacó’s issues can be addressed one by one,
if the community bonds together.
Following her passion for surf, Ureña traveled south to Jacó eight years ago. She worked hard to establish herself in the community, finding employment in various hotels and businesses. And, just as before, she ran to the ocean with her surfboard every chance she got. Yorgina’s identification as an adult surfer solidified her early love for nature. Countless hours spent in the ocean created a strong personal bond with this natural arena of beauty and sport. She grew exponentially, both as a surfer and a professional, while settling in Jacó.
In an effort to give back to the place where she had gained so much, Yorgina started pursuing work opportunities with social development goals. She felt inspired to make an impact in areas where Jacó seemed to need stronger community support.
A paradise of natural beauty, the once-small coastal town of Jacó underwent rapid surges of development in the early 2000s. In the rush to keep pace with the tourist boom and a promising economy for new hotels and businesses to thrive, organized infrastructure was left behind. While Jacó remains an important central Pacific destination, residents have been negatively affected by aspects of this growth spurt that were not well organized for their long-term well being.
One of Ureña’s main concerns, for example, is that there is no local hospital to serve a population that now stands at nearly 10,000 individuals. In response to this and other shortcomings is access to education, as well as general environmental awareness, she created a non-profit organization called Jacó Impact.
Jacó Impact was founded upon the goal of “creando alianzas para nuestra communidad” — “creating alliances for our community.” Through larger projects and community-based activities, group members work to raise awareness of environmental issues and initiatives relating to education, social well being, arts and culture.
Examples of Jacó Impact projects include free English classes for children, beach and river cleanups and recycling workshops in high schools. In a celebration of entrepreneurship and creativity, spaces are made available for artists and burgeoning professionals. Through word of mouth, social media and community events, Jacó Impact spreads its message of social movement.
Yorgina believes that Jacó’s issues can be addressed one by one, if the community bonds together in commitment to making it a better place to live and visit.
“As caregivers [of our environment] we must take the responsibility for finding and learning new tools and implementing them to create true actions and from there give support to our world,” she says.
Locals and visitors alike, Ureña maintains, can make their own individual impact on the beautiful community of Jacó.