Emma Brewer-Wallin #mySSPstory

Emma Brewer-Wallin #mySSPstory

Emma Brewer-Wallin
Wellesley College
Site Director, Tsaile 2018
Salem First Congregational UCC

 

When I was deciding to apply to be a Spiritual Life Coordinator for the first time, one of the things that appealed to me about staffing at SSP was that I would get to do the “same thing” every week for six weeks. I wanted to be able to try something in program, see how it went, and actually be able to learn from it for the following week. I thought this would be a really unique opportunity. So often in leadership settings, things happen so quickly that you never get a chance to try again. The next thing comes, then the next and the next and the next, and the same situation never comes around twice.

 

I felt vulnerable presenting things I’m passionate about and revealed who I am.

 

To be clear, staffing at SSP is incredibly fast-paced. But we also take intentional pauses to reflect on what has happened, what we can learn, and think about how to apply that to what will happen again. Although every week is different, there are certain aspects we know will happen every time. We know in advance each day’s theme for program, we know we need safety presentation on Monday mornings, and we know what’s going to be on the menu. So even though each week changes in terms of the size of the group, their SSP experience, interactions with community members, how projects are going, and the weather (not to mention the unique personalities of each group) there are plenty of aspects to our work that we get to make better and better.

When I applied to SSP, I was looking forward to having six weeks to continuously improve my program. This is an incredibly valuable part of staffing, but it is also one of the hardest. Even though I wanted feedback so I could improve, sometimes hearing what other people thought of my work could sting. I felt extremely vulnerable presenting things I’m passionate about and revealed who I am, only to hear someone didn’t quite understand my message. But it’s SSP, so people did this absolutely lovingly, and with a bit of reflection. I could see where they were coming from, and I (and my program) grew.

 

When we make mistakes (and we all do), at SSP we get second, and sometimes third, fourth, or fifth, chances.

 

There are two things that make SSP special for leadership development – whether you are a staff, youth, or counselor. First, we demand that you be yourself. When you take off your cool jacket and put on your social sweater, you also start wearing your leadership cape and your loving goggles. This way, each of us gets to be ourselves – our best selves – and be absolutely loved for it, and we get to encourage others to do the same. The second thing is when we make mistakes (and we all do), at SSP we get second, and sometimes third, fourth, or fifth, chances. We get the chance to reflect on what happened, why it happened, and how to do things differently the next time.

For me, that had a lot to do with how I could make my program the best it could be for everyone experiencing it. For you, it may be different. One mistake at the work site doesn’t mean you never get to use a chop saw again; hurting a friend’s feelings doesn’t mean you have to be alone; burning a few pancakes doesn’t mean the kitchen party is over. At SSP, we love, we learn, we lead.

 

Editor’s note: Emma most recently served on staff in Tsaile, AZ and will return as the Site Director in 2018! She is a Leadership Academy fellow and her story is the eighth part of the #mySSPstory series highlighting SSP staff leaders and their stories. Join Emma and apply for 2018 summer staff!

Napa/Sonoma Fires – A Story of Service

Napa/Sonoma Fires – A Story of Service

On October 9, as bits and pieces of the fire emerged, many of us were desperate to make sure our friends and family were safe. As the severity of this tragedy became clear, our community wanted to help. It was at this point we learned that 16-year-old Ryan Olson had been helping evacuees from the very start.

Angelina Maniti #mySSPstory

Angelina Maniti #mySSPstory

Angelina Maniti
California State University San Marcos, Senior 
Construction Coordinator, Smith River 2017
United Methodist Church of Vista

 

It’s a blessing to have spent eight wonderful summers with SSP serving as a youth volunteer and a staff member. Never has SSP failed me when it comes to learning new lessons and skills that will last a lifetime.

One of those life lessons is never letting fear keep you from doing what you love. One of my fondest and most memorable SSP trips was when I was a youth volunteer at Fort Hall, Idaho in 2012. The summer’s theme was “Love > Fear.” This theme resonated with me because in my life, out of the two choices, fear always won.

 

Only at SSP can you serve communities, make new friends, learn new skills, and be able to explore your faith.

 

I had been to SSP four times, and had a great admiration and love for the organization. I enjoyed being completely immersed in the community that SSP creates, as well as serves. SSP brings out something unique in people. Only at SSP can you serve communities, make new friends, learn new skills, and be able to explore your faith.

I’ve always loved SSP, yet I never had intentions to apply for staff. I had this fear of the responsibility of being a role model to hundreds of volunteers. I’m someone who prefers the side lines and is more of an observer. The thought of a position where I had to be leading a large group was frightening.

The 2012 staff in Fort Hall helped me realize that if you have a passion for something, you can’t let fear stand in your way. The key to overcoming fear is having total and complete trust in yourself, and in God.

 

It’s empowering and humbling to have the opportunity to be a role model at SSP.

 

My doubt in myself and fear of being a role model can’t stop me from pursuing my love of SSP and the work we do. In choosing love instead of fear, I applied to be on staff in 2016, and again in 2017. As I look back, I remember each staffer from 2012 and the impact their leadership had on me.

I count my lucky stars I chose love and had faith that my experience and skills would be valuable in leading teams. Leadership is not something you can learn from a book. Leadership can only grow through experiences. I’m grateful that SSP provides a safe place for young people to have these experiences. It’s empowering and humbling to be a role model at SSP.

 

Editor’s note: Angelina most recently served on staff in Smith River, CA as a Construction Coordinator. She is a Leadership Academy fellow and her story is the fifth of the #mySSPstory series highlighting SSP staff leaders and their stories. Join Angelina and apply for 2018 summer staff!

Andrew Freedman #mySSPstory

Andrew Freedman #mySSPstory

Andrew Freedman
University of California Santa Barbara, Junior
Spiritual Life Coordinator, Spokane 2017
Point Pleasant United Methodist Church

 

I’m a Junior at UC Santa Barbara where I study Statistics and I’m working to become a financial analyst. I have volunteered with SSP since middle school and through high school for a total of seven summers. These experiences inspired me to be on staff the last two years.

In middle and high school I found that people were always skeptical of what people my age were capable of. People always said I was “just a kid” or “not old enough.” Looking back, I see that it wasn’t me who wasn’t old enough, it was that no one had given me the opportunity.

Sierra Service Project was the exception to this. At SSP I was always reassured that I could do anything I set my mind to. People at SSP were trusting me and my work team with their homes. They trusted us to build them a new deck or ramp to be able to get into their home. We had a lot of responsibility.

 

SSP teaches people that they can make a difference to others with their actions, words, and their love. 

 

Each week as a volunteer at SSP it was clear the impacts our work had. We watched our projects come to life and some years my work team even finished a project.

The most empowering experience I had was after my team and I finished a new deck and stairs for a lovely woman. This woman was now able to leave the back of her house safely. She explained how she was skeptical of “a bunch of kids building her deck.” It wasn’t until we got started and she saw how dedicated we were when she realized she was wrong to assume.

 

These lessons I learned at SSP will stick with me for the rest of my life.

 

SSP teaches people that they can make a difference to others with their actions, words, and their love. These lessons I learned at SSP will stick with me for the rest of my life. Now that I am a young adult, I’ve transferred my SSP participation to staffing. As a staffer I am responsible for instilling the lessons I learned on others. I am excited to be the adult that believes in the potential of youth, because of the impact that belief had on me.

I’m excited to participate in the Leadership Academy because I know how much I will learn. I am excited to expand my skills and learn to reach out to others and help them grow as individuals. This opportunity will allow me to have a positive impact on others, while helping me learn and grow as a person.

 

Editor’s note: Andrew most recently served on staff in Spokane, WA as a Spiritual Life Coordinator. He is a Leadership Academy fellow and his story is the sixth part of the #mySSPstory series highlighting SSP staff leaders and their stories. Join Andrew and apply for 2018 summer staff!

1234547

Send Me SSP News Monthly

Join Our Email List

News Archives

Instagram

  • We visited Linda and her shed in @SSPsmithriver2018! Who ate one of her famous grilled PB&J sandwiches last summer?
  • What an amazing First Saturday of Service we had with @ca.house.community and Westminster Presbyterian Church. These fifteen volunteers spent the day demolishing and setting the foundation for Shirley's 145 foot Fence! We are so grateful for their hard work and are so excited to see this project come to life.
...
#volunteerSSP #ExploreBuildGrow  #SSP2k18 #SSPrancho
  • Take a peek into our new site at @sspsandiego2018 in Imperial Beach! See how students from @pacific_rs_life and @wsupullman spent their spring break giving back. They helped cleaned up the community sports park, removed invasive grasses at the Tijuana estuary, and learned about bi-national issues.
...
#SSPsandiego #volunteerSSP #ExploreBuildGrow #ImperialBeach #SSP2k18 #SSPaltbreak
...
@cityofib @4wallsintl @tijuanaestuary

Follow Me!

Twitter Feed

RT @Dig_IB: Sierra Service Project to Offer Free Home Repairs for IB Community Residents this Summer Taking Applications Now! Let them know…2 weeks ago
Check our our new #12xSSP stickers! Sign up to be a monthly donor or increase your current donation in February and… twitter.com/i/web/status/9…3 months ago
New "I ❤ SSP" @stickergiant stickers. Donate this month and we'll send you one! #ExploreBuildGrow #IHeartSSP sgurl.us/sh/253551.1658…4 months ago