Returning to Hózhó

By Silver Nez Perry

SSP Community Contact in Tsaile, Arizona


“Ts’ídá nitsáago ‘áhxéhee’ yéego baa ‘ahééh daniidzin nihikah anaajáhígíí.”

“Thank you very much, those of you who continue to help us, we appreciate it very much.”

Naabeehó elders

When it comes to living in beauty (Hózhó) it is not only through mind, body and spirit. Hózhó is also obtained by having a well maintained home and surroundings. And when a home is in disarray, Naabeehó elders don’t feel that sense of Hózhó, that sense of completeness.

Through their many completed projects, Sierra Service Project has made it possible for my Naabeehó elders to return to Hózhó.

“Nihihooghan dóó nihináágóó Hózhó Náhasdlíí’, ahxéhee.”

“Beauty has been restored to our home and within our surroundings. Thank you.”

Editor’s Note: SSP has received a generous grant from the Bruce & Diane Halle Foundation, which allows us to complete many more challenging construction projects than in previous years. We are very grateful! There are still spaces available most weeks in Tsaile, AZ for groups and individuals interested in serving during summer 2017.

Prayerful Reflections

Prayerful Reflections

By Rev. Mark Cordes

Chair, SSP Board of Directors & Pastor, Trinity United Methodist Church

I got in my car, podcasts ready, playlists done, and began to drive. It was going to be five hours or so. As I drove, I realized it had been at least two decades since I’d headed that way. North through the redwoods, across five watersheds before finally arriving at Smith River.

Early in my journey the podcasts and playlists were forgotten, replaced by the sounds of the wind and reflections on ecology, place, and people. Inevitably the NorCal fog surrounded my car. I am coming home.

Smith River site – a small church across the street from a school and a dairy farm. The smell of sea fog…well, mostly sea fog. Small knots of youth and adults wandered during free time. Dylan and crew welcomed me. Dinner, program, lights out…the first day.

Visiting work sites, spiritual sandwiches, youth with tools, removing invasive beach grass, napping, water day, program, crammed into cars. Talking about SSP’s past and present, sharing in the sacrament of service, and the gift of working with our hands. Staff counselor meeting, air mattresses, snoring…the second day.

“…sharing in the sacrament of service, and the gift of working with our hands.”

Cutting potatoes, prepping dinner, cleaning up, shower, bathroom duty, staff hugs, more stories from first-time youth sure to be lifers about what it means, what it is, what they made, dug, built, cut, hammered, hung, accomplished. Knowing I have to leave soon hangs over me. At the beach talking about God…listening to the wind, those precious voices of faith, renewal, discovery, hope, transcendence, glory, wonder…Sierra Service Project in halting, shy, deep, prayerful reflections amidst the sounds of the sea.

I drive to my other home. My kindergartener greets me…I dream of he and I at SSP learning together about God, building faith, strengthening communities, and serving…it can’t come soon enough.

On behalf of the Board of Directors, let me say a heartfelt thank you to all of you who make Sierra Service Project possible.

Deep Blessings,

Rev. Mark C Cordes


Editor’s Note: We are very grateful to have such an active and supportive Board of Directors behind our work. Mark’s article appears in SSP’s 2016 Annual Newsletter, which you can read in full by requesting a copy on our website. Groups or individuals interested in serving in Smith River should contact Veronica Russell, SSP’s Volunteer Coordinator, for more information.



12xSSP Donor Spotlight: Joe Barnett

12xSSP Donor Spotlight: Joe Barnett

By Joe Barnett

Former Youth from Redlands First United Methodist Church


I choose to donate to Sierra Service Project because of the lasting impact SSP had on my development as a youth. I hope that my monthly gifts can give someone the opportunity to experience the same joy I did, while also gaining confidence in their abilities and learning there are multiple ways to serve others.

I attended my first SSP trip in the summer of 2003, with my youth group from Redlands First United Methodist Church. For several years, I had heard of the work done by older youth at the church, and always looked forward to my opportunity to attend SSP. The hands-on skills I learned at SSP served as a foundation for my first jobs in high school and college.

“I view SSP as the launching point for my desire to give back”

Recently, I relocated to Sacramento, California. When the time came to consider ways to get involved in my local community, I was thrilled to discover Sierra Service Project was headquartered here. Since I view SSP as the launching point for my desire to give back, making the decision to donate to this great organization seemed like the logical next step.

In addition to being a monthly donor, I have enjoyed participating in volunteer days in Rancho Cordova and North Sacramento. It has been extremely rewarding to see the work SSP does for the youth and communities it serves, and to know that my donation is helping extend these valuable opportunities to others.


Editor’s Note: Joe is currently a Manager for Blue Diamond Growers’ Operations Excellence Group, supporting their Global Manufacturing Operations. This article was featured in SSP’s Annual Newsletter for 2016. Thanks to committed monthly donors like Joe, we were able to impact 2,269 volunteers, 76 homeowners, and 19 nonprofit partners in 2016. 


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