By Katherine Anderer-DiMichele, Student at Cleveland State University
Mahatma Ghandi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” In December, my fellow classmantes and I traveled from Cleveland State University in Ohio, to serve for a week in South Los Angeles with SSP.
We worked with the Vermont Square Community Garden, where we tore down an existing shade structure and then rebuilt a bigger, more functional gathering area. The Garden is a cornerstone to the members of the community. We were lucky enough to meet and listen to Tamiko Nakamura, the garden’s president, as well as taste test some products of the garden; my favorite was the raw sugar cane.
Our visit to Homeboy Industries and our tour of LA gave us a glimpse in the city’s diversity and dynamics. After our work days we enjoyed making meals and playing games with the SSP staff. I enjoyed working in the garden and learning about South LA, and I will never forget my experience through Sierra Service Project.
By Michelle Rehfield, Summer Staff 2002-08, from Riviera United Methodist Church
My first SSP summer experience spoke to me on several levels and stuck with me in ways that are difficult to explain. I still remember the work we did in 1996, replacing the plywood and installing vinyl flooring in an elder, Georgiana’s, home. I loved the trust and responsibility we were given, the community that we built that week, the glimpse into our host’s community that was so different than my own. These things planted seeds in me that I continue to recognize in my adult life.
I went on to become a staff member and then a counselor for SSP. I became a teacher at a small non-profit school in rural North Carolina and am now studying to become a nurse. Learning to commune with and care for people inside the margins is how I live my ministry in today’s world. Each summer that I participated in SSP filled me up, brought to light questions about the world and our relationships with each other, and lit a fire in me in new and exciting ways.
I love that SSP does this for youth, counselors, staff and people in the host communities each summer. I am thrilled to be a 12xSSP monthly recurring donor to support SSP’s work, with youth and adults alike, to seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly.
By Daisy Winner, Summer Staff 2012-13, from Malibu United Methodist Church
It’s true what they say: non-profit work is tremendously gratifying. The two summers I worked for Sierra Service Project were some of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had.
Equally as beneficial as those experiences, are the invaluable skills that I can now apply to my career today. I work for an international non-profit working in global health based in Boston, Massachusetts, and I would not be at such an organization now without my time as a staff member.
During my time on staff, I often took on the tasks of the other jobs on our team. This flexibility and affability are great tools I use to deal with the daily variation of my current job.
While incredibly fun and rewarding, my summers on staff were also very challenging. I was often presented with problems that I had never tackled before, but I quickly developed the tact and creativity to solve them. My competency and efficiency to overcome complications and obstacles is essential to my work today.
I have no doubt that my time on staff has been an integral part of where I am now. It has led me to pursue a career and life dedicated to service and improving the lives of others. But not only has it inspired me to serve others, it has given me the skills and the knowledge to do so with flexibility, creativity, and professionalism.
Editor’s Note: Daisy worked as a Cook and Construction Coordinator in 2012 and 2013. Staff job descriptions, application due dates, and more can be found on our website.