Brennan Ackerman #mySSPstory

Brennan Ackerman #mySSPstory

Brennan Ackerman
University of Vermont, Senior
Construction Coordinator, Spokane 2017
United Methodist Church of Thousand Oaks

Eight years ago, I just finished up my last year of middle school and was headed into high school. I knew the roller coaster of high school was ahead, but little did I know I was headed into another big first. My first SSP.

I had heard so much about SSP over and over again from my two older siblings who had gone in years prior. When the time came, we woke up early, hopped into mini vans with my youth group, and drove two days to McDermitt, Nevada. As we arrived the staff members ran and jumped on our cars to greet us with an almost frightening amount of energy.

Pretty soon I was on a work team and headed to a work site in the middle of the desert. My first “SSProject” with my work team was starting a roof. This more or less means they gave us a bunch of shovels, hammers, and pry bars, and instructed us to “take the roof off this house”. We had a pretty great time, needless to say.

 

I learned more and more each summer and I have been challenged in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

 

I went to SSP as a youth for the next four years, each time learning something new, meeting new people, and spending a lot of time with my family and friends. Each year, I was challenged with an opportunity to be a leader. These opportunities started small, eventually growing to being the go-to youth between my church’s counselors and youth.

During my time as a youth I decided I wanted to be on staff, and after my first year of college I got that opportunity. My first summer on staff I was a Construction Coordinator in Walker River, Nevada. The seven of us had the opportunity to create for others the experiences that shaped each of us, six times over the summer.

My job had many moving parts. My job included leading projects and work teams at sites, speaking in front of the youth and adults. But also, so much more that can’t be fit into a job description.

 

I learned more about how to be a leader from SSP than anywhere else, because it gave me the most opportunities to grow.

 

Over the next two summers I reprised my role as a Construction Coordinator in Chiloquin, OR and Spokane, WA. Each summer I got to be a part of a new team, be in a new place, and have whole new experiences. I learned more and more each summer, and have been challenged in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

I learned more about how to be a leader from SSP than anywhere else, because it gave me the most opportunities to grow. I know I am a better leader because of SSP. I know that as I stay a part of the SSP community, my abilities and knowledge as a leader will only continue to grow.

 

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

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Jake Bailey
Business Manger
Sierra Service Project

Transgender Day of Remembrance is always a hard day for me. It is a time when we remember all of the Trans people whose lives were lost in acts of Anti-Transgender violence. People who were killed for no other reason than that they were true to themselves; and that act caused someone to feel deceived or offended to decide that their lives should be cut short. The majority of Trans people who are killed are trans women of color, who face both Transphobia and Racism. And unfortunately the number keeps growing each year, with at least 25 deaths in the US so far in 2017.

Transgender Day of Remembrance is important is because our lives matter! Trans people are human beings. Their names and stories could be forgotten if we don’t celebrate their lives after they’re gone. Trans remembrance is also important because these murders are hate crimes. Yet they are usually not prioritized by police and often go unsolved. In remembering those we’ve lost, we remind ourselves these things still happen. Lives will be lost, and things won’t change unless people are aware and take action. As a Trans man, it is also a reminder that if the wrong people find out that I am trans and get angry enough about it, that I too could be killed. Any of us could. But Transgender Day of Remembrance is most importantly about community and being there for each other through the good and the bad. Being a Trans man is a huge part of who I am, and it is important in my relationships with friends and in shaping my values.

So what are some things that we can do this year to make our communities a safer place for Trans people?

  1. Don’t out anyone. Coming out is a personal decision, and can be a risky one. Don’t put someone else’s life on the line by trying to share their story. If you need an example to educate someone, don’t use their name or identifying information.
  2. Make sure that the spaces you inhabit (work, school, home, church, etc.) are safe places for Trans people. That could mean having gender neutral bathrooms accessible, or specifically letting Trans people know that they are welcome.
  3. Stand up for Trans people. If you hear someone being harassed or bullied because of their gender, check to see if they are okay and stay with them. Tell the perpetrators to stop, and call for help if needed.
  4. Educate your family and friends about the Trans community. The more that people know about someone, the less likely they are to fear or feel threatened by them. We are all human and have more similarities than we have differences.
  5. Fight against discriminatory legislation. Whether it is a bathroom bill, employment discrimination protections, ID change laws, or transgender people being banned from the military, pay attention to what laws are being proposed and let your representatives know how you feel about them.
  6. Support Trans visibility in politics and the media. Whether it is a Trans person running for office or a Trans actor on your favorite TV show, representation matters. For transgender children and youth, seeing people like them means that they have role models to aspire towards. And for cisgender people it helps humanize Trans people and can change opinions.
  7. Don’t support politicians or businesses that are hostile to Trans people. With enough pressure from the general population, Anti-LGBT business will go out of business and politicians will get voted out. Make this a non-negotiable criteria.

Editor’s Note: Jake has been the Business Manager at SSP since 2013 and served as a youth volunteer and Staff-In-Training. Jake graduated in 2011 from Sonoma State University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in Women and Gender Studies with distinction. He was also the first person to graduate from Sonoma State with a Queer Studies minor. Refresh your knowledge of LGBTQ+ language.

12315

Send Me SSP News Monthly

Join Our Email List

News Archives

Instagram

  • We are so thankful we #gettogive with Yuba City UMC volunteers in Rancho Cordova! Join the #SSParty and serve locally.
  • "The moment I truly grew as a leader was the first day I took the time to paint alongside volunteers." We're thrilled to highlight Siani Beck, Site Director in Chiloquin for #SSP2k18 and Leadership Academy fellow, in the #mySSPstory series! #SSPstaff apps for next summer are open, link in bio to apply. Read Siani's story on the SSP website.
  • Shoutout to sunny San Diego! How many of you have served at this site? Only 1/4 of all San Diego volunteer spots are still available for #SSP2k18. We have plenty of space Weeks 1 and 6; visit our website to sign up.

Follow Me!

Twitter Feed

@ImpactFoundry We can't wait to join the #nonprofit community in #Sacramento! Thank you for orchestrating a great d… twitter.com/i/web/status/9…2 months ago
#SSPchiloquin youth led games w/ kids during summer lunch program in Chiloquin Park w/ @OregonStateExt; 400 meals provided! #BuildTogether3 months ago
Thank you @ImpactFoundry for spreading the word about #ArtNursery and the community Ground Breaking Day w/… twitter.com/i/web/status/8…7 months ago

Follow SSP on Social Media