By Rylie Malm
2018 Supply Coordinator in Chiloquin, OR
Former Volunteer, Wesley Foundation at Washington State University
Over our college’s spring break, I had the opportunity to go on an Alternative Break trip in San Diego through Sierra Service Project and my local Wesley Foundation. It was a wonderful experience serving in Imperial Beach and Tijuana. I learned a lot, both about myself and the people who live in that community. My perspective has been completely changed from what I thought I knew about the area.
I got to work on many projects while I was there that helped the community in many different ways. Some of the things I helped with was cleaning up the sports park building so it can be reopened in the fall, and continue to be a place for high school students to go after school. I also helped remove an invasive species from the Tijuana Estuary, plant milkweed and other plants to restore the area, and create a habitat for birds and other wildlife. I also took a day trip to Mexico and worked with Four Walls International. Overall, the experience was really impactful.
“My perspective has been completely changed from what I thought I knew.”
The most surprising thing I learned about the community was how invested they were in their city, and how much they cared to make it a better place. This attitude was especially held by the mayor, who came and shared a meal with us. His story of how he became the mayor, and his platform and willingness to change and reform the city was amazing. I could tell he really loved Imperial Beach and all its inhabitants. This love and determination was also present in all the other people I worked with over the week. Although each person had different reasons for their work and the projects my group did with them, they all had a common goal of making the community a cleaner and safer place to live.
“They all had a common goal of making the community a cleaner and safer place to live.”
This experience also gave me a chance to prepare for my summer staff position, and gave me a chance to meet some people I’ll be working with. For the most part, an Alternative Break is lot different from what the summer will be like. However, I am extremely excited to be a part of the Sierra Service Project staff, and to work in the Chiloquin community. I am looking forward to being a role model for youth volunteers, and getting to see this summer’s projects progress and eventually get completed. I’m very thankful for the opportunities SSP has provided me, both through the Alternative Breaks and the new experiences and adventures I will have on staff this summer.
Editor’s Note: Rylie has served at SSP twice as a young adult volunteer through the Wesley Foundation at Washington State University, and we are looking forward to having her on summer staff in 2018. Check out photos of their San Diego trip on SSP’s Facebook. There is still plenty of space available for both middle school and high school volunteers to serve in Chiloquin this summer – join Rylie in service by signing up to volunteer!