The summer before freshman year I went on my first service trip with Sierra Service Project. The First United Methodist Church of Napa graciously sponsored me, and it changed my life. Since then, I have participated three more times.
SSP has been one of the most rewarding, incredible, and impactful experiences of my life. Every year I look forward to meeting and getting to know new people, building a community, and being in such an inclusive and supportive environment. I had no idea there would be a community out there full of compassionate, empathetic, loving, caring, and welcoming people until my first year at SSP. I still talk every day to people I met at SSP. I have created some amazing relationships and gotten to know the people from my church so much better.
“Spending time talking to the homeowners, and seeing how grateful they are for the work and gift our time, means a great deal to me.”
I have loved learning new skills through the projects I’ve done at SSP, which have included building a fence, building a deck and stairs, roofing, and working at Train Mountain, where we cut down trees and bushes, scraped, and painted. Spending time talking to the homeowners, and seeing how grateful they are for the work and gift our time, means a great deal to me.
Last summer, I served in Chiloquin, Oregon during the 4th of July. I wish I could be there this year, and every year in the future. I loved being a part of the float building and the parade, and watching a community come together. Serving people at the BBQ and talking with community members about their lives brought me joy, and being together while watching the fireworks will remain a beloved memory.
“SSP reminds me to always find grace, know God is always with me, remember how blessed I am, and to always be thankful.”
This year, I grew closer with my work team than I ever have been. There was a freshman who lives in Chiloquin and doesn’t have running water or electricity at his home. It was amazing to have him on my team, hear about his life, and watch him give back to his own community.
SSP reminds me to always find grace, know God is always with me, remember how blessed I am, and to always be thankful. SSP has made such an impact on my life that I’m starting something similar where I live, called Napa Valley Service Project, where we can help the members of my own community by doing similar work.
Editor’s Note: Emma Healy is a senior that attends SSP with Napa First United Methodist Church. She 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.