SSP Holds Six Celebrations for 40th Anniversary

SSP Holds Six Celebrations for 40th Anniversary

All are welcome and encouraged to join with other SSP supporters for an afternoon of fun, food, and friends in six cities across the western states! We are so proud to have completed our 40th year of building faith and strengthening communities through service to others, and we want to have a party with YOU. Look below to find the closest event to you, then follow the link to RSVP so we can properly prepare.


Sacramento, CA – October 10th

Torrance, CA – October 11th

San Luis Obispo/Atascadero, CA – October 11th

Portland, OR – October 18th

Redlands, CA – October 25th

Phoenix, AZ – November 15th


Please note, this is not a fundraiser; we just want to celebrate!

SSP Welcomes Rev. Jeff Lowery to Portland Position

SSP Welcomes Rev. Jeff Lowery to Portland Position

It is with great excitement that SSP welcomes Rev. Jeff Lowery as their new Regional Coordinator for the Weekends of Service in the Portland, OR, area.

Jeff is an ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church and is the founder and director of L.A.S.T. (Learning and Serving Together), a mission trip program based in Portland, OR. Jeff has many years of experience having partnered with more than 20 different agencies in mission and service over the past 6 years.

According to Jeff, “the Weekends of Service program is for youth and young adults who desire to make a difference in the world by starting in their regional community.” Participants will get the opportunity to serve in a variety of locations and service settings in the Portland area with a chance to put their faith in actionFolks might serve a meal at a soup kitchen, volunteer at a local food bank, work at a community garden or participate in a project at Dignity Village, a homeless community on the outskirts of the city.

(…) the Weekends of Service program is for youth and young adults who desire to make a difference in the world by starting in their regional community.

Each evening, participants will be led through reflection times that will help them connect their faith to their service. “The hope is that youth will be inspired to look for ways to make a difference when they return to their home communities” says Jeff, sharing his goals for the program.


Editor’s Note: Join Jeff and dozens of other groups this fall, winter, and spring for a Weekend of Service in Portland and Vernonia. Weekends are also held in Sacramento, South Los Angeles, and Phoenix.

Sierra Service Project & San Diego Canyonlands Partnership

By Freddy Arthur and Eric Bowlby

Field Supervisor and Executive Director at San Diego Canyonlands


This summer, San Diego Canyonlands (SDCL) and the City Heights Community in San Diego, CA, were blessed with the tremendous energy of over 300 youth (average age 14) and adult volunteers from Sierra Service Project (SSP). With their hard work spread out over eleven different urban canyon sites, and with 20+ volunteer days, this contribution of over 1500 service hours will have a lasting benefit for the underserved community of City Heights. Projects in five urban canyons (Auburn Creek, Manzanita, Hollywood, Swan, and Olivia Canyons) included improvements to the park trail system and the restoration of San Diego’s unique endangered, wildlife habitats.

When I received the call in February from Rick Eaton, Executive Director of Sierra Service Project, and he informed me that he had an army of volunteers coming to City Heights this summer, it reached a higher level of the term “godsend” indeed. SDCL had just finished planting about 5500 native plants, scattered in over 40 separate sites throughout four degraded urban canyons. Not only did we have the challenge of helping these seedlings survive their first summer with routine watering, we also had to prepare dozens of degraded areas for planting about 4000 more this fall/winter. Knock-knock, Sierra Service Project is coming to help!!

When I received the call in February from Rick Eaton, Executive Director of Sierra Service Project, and he informed me that he had an army of volunteers coming to City Heights this summer, it reached a higher level of the term “godsend” indeed.

The community of City Heights is one of the most ethnically diverse communities in the nation and it harbors thousands of refugees including Somalis that left Somalia in the middle of a deadly Civil War. Unfortunately, City Heights is also the most underserved community in San Diego in terms of parks and access to open space. Along with our partners and groups like SSP, SD Canyonlands has been working to help local residents rehabilitate over 180 acres of neglected open space in four canyons and along two creeks in City Heights, transforming them from dangerous, degraded open spaces, into a cherished community asset with new recreational nature trails, and opportunities for use as “nature classrooms” for urban youth.

With the kind of help we received this summer from SSP, we are on target to establish a unique, 5-mile, multi-canyon trail system and restore over 30 acres of habitat within the next few years. In addition to watering our native plantings in the middle of a drought, one of the key components that SSP helped with was establishing this exciting new trail system, including the links between the canyons across the urban landscape.

When we improve the streets that link our canyons together we call them “canyon corridors” or affectionately “butterfly corridors” (see above image). With SD Canyonlands’ guidance and resources from donors and grantors, and volunteer muscle like SSP delivered this summer, we have made great progress embellishing these “butterfly corridors” with improved pathways, native plant landscaping, murals, signage, and pocket parks. The birds and butterflies, attracted by the native plantings, will literally travel through the urban neighborhoods connected by these enhanced streetscapes. SD Canyonlands will also promote “Meetup” groups and jogging clubs to increase the recreational uses of these canyons once the system is built.

We are so excited that SSP will be joining again next year to continue helping us make this exciting vision unfold within a densely populated urban community that needs it the most.

Here is a brief summary of the projects where SSP volunteers worked and what they accomplished:

Manzanita Canyon

  • 39th St trail UG Project – 33 youths and 13 adult volunteers worked here for 3 days removing invasive species and illegally dumped trash and debris from this area in preparation for the construction of a new trail segment to connect more neighborhoods with Azalea Park and Manzanita Canyon’s hiking paths.
  • Central Ave at Manzanita Canyon – 10 youth and 5 adult volunteers spent one day here removing highly invasive plant species and a very large quantity of illegally dumped debris adjacent to an important wildlife restoration area.

Auburn Creek – In one day, 12 youth and 3 adult volunteers removed invasive plant species and mulched newly restored creek habitat areas adjacent to a heavily used urban trail that connects several neighborhoods to each other and to the natural environment.


Pepper Canyon – Over 3 days, 34 youth and 13 adult volunteers removed invasive species from our habitat restoration area, watered our new native plantings. Using weed-suppressing mulch, a 250’ segment of trail was widened and improved connecting Hollywood Canyon to Manzanita Canyon between two surface streets.

47th St Canyon – Over 3 days, 31 youth and 16 adult volunteers removed invasive plant species from a proposed site of a new trail segment and widened and improved with mulch 250’ of access path to this and adjacent habitat restoration areas.

Hollywood Canyon – Over 4 days , 44 youth and 16 adult volunteers removed invasive plant species, trash and debris from Pepper Dr. trailhead and Olive and Columbine TH & restoration areas, then widened and improved 250’ of entry trails with weed suppressing, heavy mulch.

Swan Canyon – Over 6 days, 74 youth and 22 adult volunteers:

  • Maple St Trail Head – 2 days – SSP’s youngest two groups removed a 40 yard dumpster’s worth of tumbleweed and other invasive species, trash and debris from 2 different restoration areas, and from an important proposed trail segment location at south Swan Canyon.
  • Highland Ave Trail – 3 days – SSP volunteers removed invasive plants, trash and debris from North Swan canyon restoration areas, mulched a new trail head staging area with 150’ of entry trail.
  • Quince St at 46th1 day – volunteers removed invasive plant species, trash and debris from this Trail Head and trail surrounds as well as mulching 125’ of entry trail.


Editor’s note: Thank you to the over 300 volunteers who served with San Diego Canyonlands through our San Diego site this summer! We are very excited to be returning to San Diego during the 2016 summer.

SSP Starts New Sacramento Program This Fall

SSP Starts New Sacramento Program This Fall

SSP will be working with the City of Rancho Cordova to provide home repair and improvement projects to local residents in the fall of 2015. The city is providing SSP with a $41,310 grant and is helping to coordinate volunteers for SSP’s first non-summer long term program. Because of the grant, volunteers will not need to pay to be involved in the program, allowing SSP to be more accessible for people wanting to get involved than ever before. For youth groups who want a full Weekend of Service experience in the Sacramento area, there will be a reduced fee. This funding is supported in part by the Measure H Community Enhancement Fund from the City of Rancho Cordova.

(…) volunteers will not need to pay to be involved in the program, allowing SSP to be more accessible for people wanting to get involved than ever before.

The “Rancho Cordova Neighborhood Beautification Program,” as SSP is calling it, aims to start hosting volunteers on September 21st and continue working through November 21st when the program will end. It is designed so that volunteers can choose to spend anywhere from one day to a whole week working on projects.

Some of the goals for this program are to enhance the quality of life of the city’s residents, to beautify neighborhoods, and increase community pride. This opportunity will also increase community involvement by being able to host volunteers from businesses, civic organizations, churches, schools, individuals, and the general public.

Joining our team to manage this program is Evan Griffiths, an SSP staff alumnus. Evan has been on summer staff for seven years, spending the last three as a Site Director, most recently in Chiloquin in 2015. He is a recent graduate of California State University, Long Beach where he received a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics with a minor in American Indian Studies. When asked about his role in the SSP office, Evan said,

“I’m excited to take the skills that I’ve learned during my summers with SSP and apply them to an urban and long-term program.”

If you are interested in volunteering in Rancho Cordova individually or with your church, business or other adult or youth group, please contact Evan at 916-488-6441.

To learn more, download a work request form or sign up to volunteer, visit our Rancho Cordova Neighborhood Beautification Program page.


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  • Adventure Wednesday is a way for volunteers to understand their host community from a new perspective. In Chiloquin, OR, we learn about wildfires and help with preservation efforts at the local state park! What is your favorite Adventure Wednesday activity?
  • Photo albums from SSP Week One are now available on our Facebook! These snapshots capture the magic of Tsaile, AZ at Canyon de Chelly and the beginning stages of Perry’s ramp project. For more photos of SSP Week One across all five locations, visit the link in our bio.
  • @sspsandiego2018 is on the cover of Eagle and Times today! Also, happy birthday to construction coordinator Ryan!

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