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Wendy Bernard

Homeowner in Chiloquin, OR

My experience with Sierra Service Project is one of awe. Daily I wondered where I could turn for the help my husband and I were search of. We needed a ramp to make it easier for both of us to get in and out of our home, and I had run out of places to go. One day, I saw mention of SSP in the weekly newsletter for our small town of Chiloquin. After a couple years of waiting for those that were more in need than us to get work done, I filled out the application.

“They talked to us like we were old friends and listened to our stories.”

I was surprised when I got the call we had been chosen. I counted down the days, and I’ll admit I wasn’t sure what to expect. How would we be received by the workers? The day they arrived, I was so surprised at how warm and welcoming everyone was, all my concerns gone. It was as if family had come home to help me out. The volunteers were smiling, polite, and totally put me at ease.

They talked to us like we were old friends and listened to our stories. It had been a long time since I had seen that amount of dedication from young people. You could see the care and pride they had in their work. Their love and concern for us as individuals brought smiles to our faces. I would spend each day outside with them. I looked forward to their arrival every day, and when they left, it was as if my own children had returned to their homes.

“I wish they could have seen the day my husband came down the ramp, both arms in the air in victory in being able to leave the house without the pain of walking down steps.”

These young people went above and beyond. In return, I just had to do something for them, so I provided pitchers of lemonade, which they seemed to truly appreciate. They were a blessing and a bright light in the darkness that had become our battle for help.

They will forever be part of my heart and I wish they knew how much they mean to me. I wish they could have seen the day my husband came down the ramp, both arms in the air in victory in being able to leave the house without the pain of walking down steps, and the ease of me being able to do the same. We will never forget those who worked at our home and I hope in the future others will know the blessing of SSP’s work.

 

Editor’s Note: This article is featured in SSP’s 2018 Annual Newsletter; read all the stories written by youth volunteers, summer staff, and community members. Request a hard copy newsletter to be mailed to you.

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Will Wood

Will Wood

Youth Board Member from Pt. Pleasant United Methodist Church, Elk Grove, CA

I have participated in SSP four times, in San Diego, Smith River, Spokane, and Tsaile, all at high school sessions. Through my trips with SSP, I have acquired a plethora of memories and experiences, each of them special in their own way. A few of these include learning about the rich history of Chicano-Americans in San Diego, racing to save the beautiful Tolowa Dunes outside Smith River from invasive European beachgrass, and strategically demolishing an awning on a twelve-foot-tall deck in Spokane.

If I had to choose just one significant memory, it would be from Tsaile this year. Dr. Silver Nez Perry, a Diné community leader, talked to our whole group about motivation and how to be successful in life. To hear such inspiring words come from a place one would not necessarily seek it out was especially intriguing. Silver’s words have stuck with me since then, and will be with me for a long time to come. These (and many more memories) have made SSP a formative and important experience for me.

“To be able to significantly impact the life of someone else, while simultaneously deepening your own faith and connecting with fellow Christians, is a special thing I am proud to be a part of.”

Sierra Service Project has somehow struck the perfect balance between church retreats and service projects. To be able to significantly impact the life of someone else, while simultaneously deepening your own faith and connecting with fellow Christians, is a special thing I am proud to be a part of. The duality of helping others while also helping yourself, although in different ways, is what truly has made SSP an important experience in my life that has yet to reach its final chapter.

SSP has given me so many great memories. Through each of my four trips with SSP, I have become enthralled with philanthropy and the deepening of faith. When I am older, I would love to be involved in the non-profit world, to help others find that same passion. This is why I have chosen to serve on SSP’s Board of Directors, to help others find their passion through service. Serving on the Board of Directors will allow me to give back to a worthy organization, and help other teenagers take advantage of opportunities to serve with SSP.

 

Editor’s Note: Will Wood is a senior that attends SSP with Pt. Pleasant United Methodist Church. He has been elected this year to serve as a youth representative on SSP’s Board of Directors. This article is featured in SSP’s 2018 Annual Newsletter; read all the stories written by youth volunteers, summer staff, and community members. Request a hard copy newsletter to be mailed to you.

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Sally Kadifa

Sally Kadifa

Parent of SSP Youth from First Congregational Church of Palo Alto, CA

We donate to SSP because of the opportunities for service it has provided for our daughter, Charlotte. She is a senior in high school and has participated in both middle and high school SSP trips with her youth group at our church, First Congregational Church of Palo Alto. These service trips are truly a highlight of Charlotte’s summer vacation.

“We are impressed Sierra Service Project makes the effort to develop constructive and long-term partnerships with the communities the programs serve.”

She has had fun “doing good” for others while bonding with teens from our church as well as teens from churches around the West Coast. She’s learned how to paint, use power tools, and construct a wheelchair ramp. She’s enjoyed meeting some of the individuals who so graciously permit SSP participants and staff to work on their homes, community facilities, and parks.

“Teens see the injustice and inequality in our society, and SSP empowers them to do something about it.”

We are impressed Sierra Service Project makes the effort to develop constructive and long-term partnerships with the communities the programs serve, and works with them to identify and complete projects that truly benefit the community. Charlotte’s experiences with SSP have informed her belief system and values. Teens see the injustice and inequality in our society, and SSP empowers them to do something about it. Thank you, SSP!

 

Editor’s Note: Join the Kadifa family and over 600 annual donors in supporting SSP financially. This article is featured in SSP’s 2018 Annual Newsletter; read all the stories written by youth volunteers, summer staff, and community members. Request a hard copy newsletter to be mailed to you.

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Pastor Chris Fracchiolla

Pastor Chris Fracchiolla

Pastor of Magnolia Park United Methodist Church in Burbank, CA

This year our annual trip to SSP was a lesson in complexities simplified. Being from the Los Angeles area, choosing Imperial Beach as our location really simplified our travel plans! Once we arrived, however, complexities began to mount.

The homeowner we served, Ernie, lived in a nice neighborhood, not far from a beautiful park, community center, and two state-of-the-art schools. Many nearby homes were new; their proximity to the beach gave them extra cache. A closer look revealed a place in transition; a patchwork of homes suffering from ill-repair. Ernie, living on a fixed income, was very sick. His son, who doubled as his full-time caregiver, was in no position to do repairs. As we worked on a wheelchair ramp, we learned about the complex needs that lie just beneath a community’s surface.

“Service simplifies the complexities of life, cuts through our differences, and brings us back to our simple roots as children of God.”

Later we learned about complexities on a national scale, when we took a day trip to the US-Mexico border. There is a park where people who migrate to the US can see loved ones who were unable to make the same trip. Our youth got a taste of bitter separation when they “touched pinkies” with SSP friends on the other side. Those feelings were complicated by a visit with border patrol agents who described the rigors associated with their job of maintaining border security.

Finally, complexities multiplied when we spent quality time with friends of SSP at our community dinner. Brief encounters with residents revealed a complex mix of stories, replete with disappointments and dreams, all tied up with a bow of gratitude for the work SSP does, and to God. Our time in Imperial Beach, like all SSP times, demonstrated once again that service simplifies the complexities of life, cuts through our differences, and brings us back to our simple roots as children of God, called to love each other as Jesus loves us. Complexity made simple, SSP style!

 

Editor’s Note: With sadness, we share this homeowner passed away, only a few days before the ramp was completed. We pray for his family as they grieve. This article is featured in SSP’s 2018 Annual Newsletter; read all the stories written by youth volunteers, summer staff, and community members. Request a hard copy newsletter to be mailed to you.

SSP's Group Registration Portal
First-come, first-served registration is open for SSP's summer of 2019! If you are your group's liaison, click the button to login to your MySSP account.
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  • Did you work with the Kinlichini family last summer at #SSPtsaile installing siding, insulation, drywall, or painting? SSP invested 144 volunteer days and $1,700 in building materials into helping the Kinlichinis finish the hogan they were building. Make a donation to SSP through the link in our bio to help us connect with more families.#SSPtsaile #ExploreBuildGrow #donateSSP #SierraServiceProject #SSP2k19
  • SSPers in SoCal: have you been waiting for an SSP meet-up near you? Join the 2019 Site Directors, office staff, and volunteers next Friday December 14 for one of two meet-ups in West Los Angeles! The first is coffee hour for volunteers and group leaders at @westwoodumcla from 9:30-11:30am. The second is a staff interest dinner, for staff alumni, SITs, and graduated youth. You can see more details and RSVP on SSP’s Facebook event page (link in bio). DM us with any questions!
  • "Seeing God’s work in action proved to me that good exists in this world of hurt; it just needs to be facilitated; igniting a new hope in me." Read Andrea Maniti's story about how serving with SSP changed her view on what it means to have faith: SierraServiceProject.org/Andrea

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