My First Staff Experience

My First Staff Experience

By Brooke Adams

Construction Coordinator in Smith River, CA

from Corona United Methodist Church


I was hired as a staff member, or as my fellow staffer Chloe Parker called it “cookstruction coordinator,” for Sierra Service Project’s Los Angeles Weekend of Service in the beginning of April. We wear many hats as a staff member for such a short weekend, including cooking for over 50 people and leading construction/gardening projects all over town.

It was great to see how SSP has helped this great space and the difference it has made in the community.

On Saturday morning, Regional Coordinator Melani Carroll and I accompanied a few of the work teams to Manual Arts High School where we planted trees with City Plants alongside community members. For the rest of the day, I took a work team to pick up trash and pull weeds at Vermont Square Community Garden a few blocks down from the high school. On Sunday the work team served at Solano Canyon Community Garden where they pulled some more weeds and got to meet Al, the manager of the garden. It was great to see how SSP has helped this great space and the difference it has made in the community.

During the weekend, I was amazed with the youth’s willingness to help out both on the work site and at the community center we stayed in. There was rarely a time when there weren’t youth helping us out in the kitchen. Even at the work site, the youth (and counselors) never had a free hand and were always wanting to do more.

There was rarely a time when there weren’t youth helping us out in the kitchen.

Interacting with the youth and counselors for this small amount of time makes me excited to be able to experience this for even longer. During the summer, I am working as a construction coordinator in Smith River, CA, with Kevin Hwang, who also staffed this weekend. From the fellow staff on this weekend, I loved hearing stories and advice about their experiences during summer, and thanks to Chloe and Nathan Sandford I will always have extra drill bits and other materials with me at all times. This brief taste of being a staff member makes me very excited to make my own memories this summer!


Editor’s Note: View more photos from the weekend. Our year-round program opportunities have concluded for the season. Contact Megan Walsh if your group would like to schedule a Weekend of Service in Portland, Vernonia, Sacramento, Los Angeles, or Phoenix, or an Alternative Break in Portland, or Los Angeles. Learn more about serving this summer at one of our six locations.

We’re Giving BIG for BIG DoG

We’re Giving BIG for BIG DoG

By Pam Kepler

from St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Sacramento, CA


Editors Note: Many thanks to Pam and Steve Kepler who are just two of over twenty individual and business contributors to SSP’s matching fund for the Big Day of Giving on May 3. Help us use the entire $10,500 match by donating on Tuesday!


Steve & I have been counselors at SSP many times. I was on the Board and was finance chair. Steve helped out with IT issues. We have volunteered with moving things, mailings, sorting, cooking during training.

It is such an awesome organization – we love helping when we can.

Thinking about SSP trips brought back fond memories of being a counselor – driving the van and singing “Over the Rainbow” with Iz and the campers. Enjoying silly skits. A chance to be goofy and productive at the same time. The gift of experiencing different ways to meditate, pray, connect. The wonderful walks at sunset. Watching our youth learn and grow and understand what being in service means. Remembering long ago when we first became involved with SSP – it was amazing and inspiring – youth working really hard to raise money so they could work really hard. We were curious. We had to see what that was all about. That’s how we first got involved – and once we went – we were hooked!

We were curious.

At SSP we worked hard and played hard, and at the same time we were touched, changed, and got closer to God and one another. We were tired in body, yet renewed in spirit. We were blessed by staff, youth, and other counselors – that’s what kept us coming back – year after year, and why volunteering at SSP is so important – serving SSP as it had so lovingly served us.


BIG DoG Chiloquin

Give BIG Today!

For forty years, supporters have helped Sierra Service Project shape the lives of young people and strengthen communities in need.

Sierra Service Project is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization incorporated in the state of California. All donations to SSP are fully tax deductible. Donations make up one-third of Sierra Service Project’s budget.

Without these donations, we would have to raise the fees that youth pay to participate by at least $150. 

ProPay securely processes our donations and retains a small percentage (debit/credit cards: 3.05-3.65% + $0.30; ACH bank transfer: 0.70% + $0.49) of your donation to cover their processing costs.

BIG Day of Giving: May 3, 2016

If you are considering making a gift to SSP this spring – thank you! The perfect day to do this would be on May 3rd for the BIG Day of Giving which is an effort to raise funds for Sacramento-based nonprofits. SSP’s focus for this year’s BIG Day is scholarships for low-income youth.

Several donors and businesses are coming together to create a matching fund that will double the value of gifts made on May 3rd. Of course we will graciously accept gifts at any time, but if you are willing to contribute on the BIG Day of Giving, your donation will be doubled!

Make a One-Time Donation to SSP

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Staff Alumni Teaching in Colombia

Staff Alumni Teaching in Colombia

(Photo: Allison with Anita and Rigoberta Munchu, Guatemala, 2012.)

By Allison Kielhold

SSP Staff Alumni


I’m excited to share that I will be joining World Teach this June as a volunteer English Teacher in Colombia! I decided to volunteer teach with this organization because they generally place volunteers with a local English teacher and I would like to gain experience in a classroom setting but still have culturally appropriate lessons. I hope that in working with a co-teacher in Colombia I can assist with English conversation and pronunciation while gaining experience in a classroom setting.

Sierra Service Project (SSP) is what really sparked my interest in Latin America and shaped the path that I am on. My first experience abroad was SSP’s Honduras Service Trip in 2010.

Allison and a community member in Guatemala, 2012.

Allison and a community member in Guatemala, 2012.

After that eye opening experience I decided to focus my studies on Latin America and Spanish. After studying abroad in Costa Rica in my Junior year, I worked for SSP in Guatemala on another service and learn trip. SSP opened up so many opportunities for me to work and serve, domestically and abroad. I have learned so much from my different roles with SSP and I know that the program’s focus on social justice and equity has also shaped me and views. I cannot express how great an impact SSP has had on my life and I am grateful for this new opportunity to serve as a volunteer in South America with World Teach.


Editor’s Note: Find more information or support Allison on her new adventure. We are proud to feature our Staff Alumni in ways they are changing the world. Please contact Pascal Domicone with your alumni news! 


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  • #SSPsitevisit is underway in #SSPsmithriver. Volunteers will experience the profound power of the redwoods and North Coast. Check out updates on the site IG account: @sspsmithriver17
  • Just two weeks to go until the @bigdayofgiving! #GiveTogether to help us raise $10,000 to empower teens and repair homes. Mark your calendar to give on May 4th, or schedule your donation today! (Link in bio.)
  • WE LOVE @dayspringtempe! Not only have they participated in our programs for 15 years, their foundation just made a two-year financial commitment to SSP. This church body has contributed hundreds of youth volunteers, dozens of summer staffers, and $3,000 both this year and next (the cost of two wheelchair ramps)! If your church has a foundation dedicated to funding programs like ours, visit the link in our bio for more information.

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