Marianne Tomlin: Why I’m a 12xSSP Monthly Donor

Marianne Tomlin: Why I’m a 12xSSP Monthly Donor

By Marianne Tomlin
Adult Counselor with Glendale First United Methodist Church



In 2005, I found myself at a crossroads of sorts. I was on a break from school and decided that I wanted to be a camp counselor. After a church merger, my mom told me that our new Associate Pastor was the dean of our Jr. High Camp in our church’s district. That experience changed the trajectory of my life forever and I embarked on a journey of counseling youth that made me who I am today.

Since then, I have counseled youth in various forms, but one of the most formidable ways I have helped youth (and grown in my own spiritual journey!) has been through Sierra Service Project. I began chaperoning my youth group on SSP trips in 2009 and it has changed me as much as it has changed my youth (if not more). Through SSP, I have truly learned the spirit of serving others and have seen how it can change the lives of both those that SSP serves with and the youth that spend a week of their summer working hard for the sake of helping those in need. I have seen how the work that SSP does empowers youth to want to make the world better, and have seen some choose majors in college that reflect what they’ve learned at SSP. I believe this is a large part of what makes and will continue to make the world a better place for all.
SSP most embodies Micah 6:8, “The Lord has showed you what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God,” and teaches youth and adults who walk through their sites each summer how God calls us to serve those in need. I believe in that mission as well, which is why I am called to be a 12xSSP monthly donor. I encourage those who read this to do the same.
12 Reasons Daisy Winner Loves SSP

12 Reasons Daisy Winner Loves SSP

Daisy Winner worked on SSP summer staff in Susanville, CA and Stockton/Coarsegold, CA. She is currently working for Seed Global Health in Boston, MA and is one of our newest 12xSSP donors. Here are 12 reasons she loves SSP:

  1. It inspired me to pursue a career dedicated to service
  2. It taught me flexibility and creativity in challenging situations
  3. Gave me life long friends
  4. It gave the skills to work well with others from a variety of backgrounds
  5. It taught me how a little help can go a long way in making a difference in someone’s life
  6. It taught me to love and accept others
  7. I can build a deck and reroof a house now
  8. It showed me that everyone has a skill and knowledge to share
  9. It brought me to new places whose beauty I will never forget
  10. It taught me humility and grace
  11. It showed me that everyone deserves love
  12. It taught me that service is something anyone can be a part of!


Taming the “Beast Ramp”

Taming the “Beast Ramp”

By Moe Leneweaver

SSP Summer Staff 2010-’12 and 12xSSP donor


My first summer on staff I was a part of a three-person construction team in South Los Angeles led by Brandon Leppla. This was Brandon’s third year of being on staff… and my third week. I would have been happy running simple projects all summer, afraid of messing up something as complicated as a wheelchair ramp.

We knew that she really needed a ramp.

Brandon and I visited a woman who had requested a wheelchair ramp. She was unable to leave her home, except the one time each week that her nephew would take her to church. We knew that she really needed a ramp. As we looked around her cramped courtyard we also knew that it was going to be a real challenge to build. This ramp was going to have complicated turns and platforms that needed to be drilled into the concrete. We decided to call it “the beast ramp.” Knowing that Brandon had the most experience, I thought it was safe to assume that he would be taming the beast ramp while I got my toes wet managing paint projects.

But Brandon wasn’t about to let me take the easy way out. He put me in charge of the beast ramp. I had to take all that I had learned during training and put it into practice. I had to not only plan the ramp layout, but I also had to teach teenagers how to build it!

It was an amazing moment that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

After six weeks of sweat and tears (thankfully there was no blood), I remember watching Ms. Garnett roll down the beast ramp for the first time. The joy of watching her was mixed with a terrible fear that the whole thing was going to crumble at any second. I breathed a sigh of relief when she made it safely down the ramp and out of her house on her own. It was an amazing moment that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

When Brandon put me in charge of the beast ramp, he gave me the opportunity to step up. When Ms. Garnett rolled down the beast ramp and out of her house, I had proven to myself that I was capable of more than I thought.

Flash forward four years. At the ripe old age of 23 I found myself in a position I wouldn’t have predicted. I was running a non-profit. I was responsible for organizing over 1,000 people to stand and demand change for their community. I was putting together proposals that leveraged millions of dollars each year. I was responsible for developing and managing the budget, for managing the other staff. I found myself with quite a bit of responsibility.

What kind of 23 year old does that? A 23 year old who has worked for Sierra Service Project.

I say all of these things not to toot my own horn- by any means. I say all of these things as a way of showing thanks for what others have done. I know that those skills, courage, and confidence came from opportunities that others gave me to develop them.

(…) there is no better place for me to invest the resources I’ve been given.

If SSP can continue to do this – to create change agents who have the courage to take on the challenges thrown their way – then there is no better place for me to invest the resources I’ve been given.


Editor’s Note: Applications for SSP summer staff are due February 8. Encourage a young adult you know to learn more and submit an application for an amazing summer experience!

Why I’m a 12xSSP Donor

Why I’m a 12xSSP Donor

By Cheryl Breitenbucher

SSP Youth 1995-96, Adult Counselor from Brentwood Community United Methodist Church


I’m a 12xSSP donor because SSP is the epitome of serving humbly in love. My first experience with SSP was when I was 16 years old, and my church group from Linden United Methodist Church went to Klamath. I was opened up to all sorts of new experiences. My group painted a house for a Native American family.

I’m a 12xSSP donor because SSP is the epitome of serving humbly in love.

I remember this very spiritual event where we walked along a rocky area near the river. We were asked to place paper bags at different spots. I’m sure we talked about how we seem small and don’t always understand what the big picture is. We hiked a bit, and scrambled up toward a bridge, just as the sun was setting. Down below, the SSP staff were lighting luminaries, and when we looked down below, it was in the shape of a hand that we helped make, representing God’s hand. It was incredibly beautiful, knowing that I was part of something bigger, God’s love.

It was incredibly beautiful, knowing that I was part of something bigger, God’s love.

That same night, it was warm, and we got to sleep outside under the stars, during the August meteor shower. It was the most magical light show I’ve ever seen. The following year, I went again as a camper, to Bishop. I was pushed past my own limits (roofing a home), made new friends, used an outhouse in a field of cows, and an outdoor makeshift shower.


During the last 3 years, I’ve experienced SSP as a counselor with Weekends of Service in South Los Angeles, Vernonia, and Sacramento with our youth from Brentwood Community UMC. Watching our youth group feel empowered to help others is a powerful thing, and I hope that Sierra Service Project continues their good works. It really helped to solidify my faith, and I don’t think at the time I realized how meaningful those experiences were until I really reflected on their impact.


Editor’s Note: Cheryl is one of over 100 individuals who are a part of the 12xSSP monthly recurring donation program. Considering joining them in support of SSP’s mission!

Send Me SSP News Monthly

Join Our Email List

News Archives


  • Today San Diego Co-Directors, Angelina and Joseph, spent some time with great community members and the beautiful city of Imperial Beach. After visiting the IB Neighborhood Center, we trekked to Friendship Park, but found the trail too inundated with sewage contaminated water to continue. Sobering reminder of the steps family members take to stay in contact with loved ones on the other side of the border.Follow along summer preparations for #SSPsandiego at @SSPsandiego2019.#SierraServiceProject #SSP2k19 #ExploreBuildGrow #volunteerSSP
  • Another wonderful monthly service day with @lssnorcal in Rancho Cordova. The rain stayed away as we started working away on Wanda's fence! Stay tuned this weekend to watch this fence grow!#SSPrancho #SierraServiceProject #volunteerSSP #ExploreBuildGrow
  • Looking for a burst of SSP energy? Give back over the long Presidents' Day holiday at a Weekend of Service in Sacramento, or our San Diego site in Imperial Beach. Sign up by tomorrow, 1/18. DM us with questions!#SSPwos #SSPrancho #SSPsandiego #volunteerSSP #SSP2k19

Follow Me!

Twitter Feed

@SJNDPILOTS We LOVED having SJND students with us in San Diego this summer! #volunteerSSP #LoveCourageously5 months ago
RT @Dig_IB: Sierra Service Project to Offer Free Home Repairs for IB Community Residents this Summer Taking Applications Now! Let them know…10 months 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…1 year ago