A New Playground in Stockton

A New Playground in Stockton

By Adam Cheshire

CEO of Stockton Shelter for the Homeless

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in SSP’s 2015 Annual Newsletter. We believe in the power of SSP to continue to change lives, and we hope you do, too. Please consider a tax-deductible donation today.

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Stockton Shelter for the Homeless is the largest emergency shelter in San Joaquin County and one of the largest in California, providing shelter and other services to over 350 homeless individuals each day. Nearly 30% of these are children. When we were first approached by a donor to fund the construction of a new playground, we were so excited by the opportunity to improve the lives of our Shelter kids on such a large scale. But when we examined the costs involved, it was disheartening to learn how much of the funds would need to go to installation of the playground and how much smaller that playground would need to be as a result.

Not only did SSP volunteers step up to help homeless families but they did so with smiles and laughter, and in record time.

That’s when we decided to reach out to Sierra Service Project. We weren’t sure if installing a playground was something they would even consider. Not only did SSP volunteers step up to help homeless families but they did so with smiles and laughter, and in record time. It was such a joy to see such a dynamic group of young people showing us all what hard work and dedication look like!

SSP met the challenge in a big way and made the lives of San Joaquin County’s homeless children immeasurably better as a result. By volunteering their time, sweat, and love to install this playground, we saved over $5,000 which allowed us to put those resources towards the kind of playground that our kids deserve. We could not have completed a playground of this size and scale without Sierra Service Project, and we cannot begin to express how grateful our staff and residents are for their work.

 

Smith River: Serving a Veteran

Smith River: Serving a Veteran

By Theresa Zwan

Crescent City Resident

 

I had the great fortune to have the Sierra Service Project build me a new deck this summer, and I so appreciate it! My old deck was trashed, and they built me a new 5’ by 8’ deck, and followed all building codes.

My old deck was trashed, and they built me a new 5’ by 8’ deck, and followed all building codes.

There were three different teams that participated in the process over a three week period. There were always trained leaders on-site to show the youth new skills and to supervise the building. The teams tore down and removed the old deck, poured and set new foundations, and built the new deck. They stained all of the boards and cleaned up after their work.

I was so impressed with the positive attitudes of the youth! They were extremely considerate of my privacy and my home, only using the facilities as needed. I offered them the use of my covered front porch for their lunch time, as the backyard where they were working gets pretty warm and we had a very warm summer. So they sat there, had their PB&J sandwiches on wheat bread, cleaned up after themselves, and had a little devotional time.

I was so impressed with the positive attitudes of the youth!

I was also able to introduce the program to my friend, and they were able to build her a new gate and fix some of her fencing. This is a fantastic program, and I am so pleased to have been a recipient of their services. My back deck is now adorned with two chairs and a little table, and ready for guests! The raccoons also love it, and that is just a part of living near the woods. Oh, well! Share and share alike!

 

Editor’s Note: Theresa is a United States Army Veteran and was one of the first female patrol police officers in the US in 1978. This was first published in our 2015 Annual Newsletter in December, 2015. We believe in the power of SSP to continue to change lives, and we hope you do, too. Please consider a tax-deductible donation today.

METRO Center Scholarships

METRO Center Scholarships

By Rev. Robert Holliday

Adult Counselor from St. James United Methodist Church’s Ministry through Education, Training, Referral and Outreach (METRO) Center in Tucson, AZ

Editor’s Note: This was first published in our 2015 Annual Newsletter in December, 2015. We believe in the power of SSP to continue to change lives, and we hope you do, too. Please consider making a donation today.

 

I’m not sure how many of you have ever been in trouble or facing consequences of making a poor choice; more than just me, I would suspect. Most successful people have been given second chances. But what about those young people who, for whatever reason, don’t get that second chance?

The METRO Center is a faith-based nonprofit organization that works in the highest poverty and crime neighborhoods in Tucson, AZ. We give young people a second chance, and in doing so reinforce their commitment to excellence and service, not because they have to, but because they want to. By God’s grace and the generosity of others, our young people were given one of those chances at SSP last July.

By God’s grace and the generosity of others, our young people were given one of those chances at SSP last July.

It was incredible to see the interaction between young people from different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. They worked, ate, laughed, and even prayed together. What a blessing to see both churched and unchurched young people build a greater understanding of what the Body of Christ really is.

Many from The METRO Center have never been out of their own neighborhood, but when they went to Canyon de Chelly, they got to see the beauty of God’s creation beyond their wildest imaginations. As they worked with other young people to improve the quality of life in Tsaile, they developed an appreciation for their own home environments. The personal impact of giving themselves in service to others was incredible. As we drove back to Tucson, some of them actually began taking about next year!

1976-2015: Youth to Parent

1976-2015: Youth to Parent

By Rev. Matt Gorman

Board Member from North Seattle United Methodist Network

 

I first went to Sierra Service Project when I was 15. A friend invited me, and the day we left from the First United Methodist Church of Escondido was the first day I had ever been to a church service in my life. It was all new to me — from singing grace before meals, to praying, to being welcomed into a community of caring people.

It was all new to me — from singing grace before meals, to praying, to being welcomed into a community of caring people.

I think it was the first week of SSP’s existence. I remember heading out just a few days after school finished for the year, and 1976 was the first year of SSP as an independent entity — after the pilot year in 1975 when it was a remote site of Appalachia Service Project.

We slept on the floor of Bishop United Methodist Church. We split into work teams and each morning trekked off to various homes to do work. My group worked at Esther’s home in Big Pine. I spent most of my time in the back yard digging a new hole for her outhouse!

In the evenings we would gather in the social hall and sing (another first for me), share, tell stories, and talk about God (another first, you get the idea.) Staff members Floyd McKeithen, Eric Clem, Janet Gollery (now McKeithen) must have worked pretty hard to enable us to do what we did, but what I noticed was that they showed us unconditional love, and helped us to put our budding faith into.

My life took a radical shift after that week at SSP. I wanted to be around a caring community and people who were trying to make the world a better place. I explored my faith in a variety of contexts, but kept coming back to SSP — as a young adult staff member, adult counselor, board member, and a pastor sending groups of youth. I love where SSP has gone, and believe very strongly in its mission and its effect on young people — all three of my children have served multiple summers as youth and staff, so I have seen first-hand how SSP continues to change lives.

 

Editor’s Note: This was first published in our 2015 Annual Newsletter in December, 2015. We believe in the power of SSP to continue to change lives, and we hope you do, too. Please consider a tax-deductible donation today.

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