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.
Kelsie Currie #mySSPstory

Kelsie Currie #mySSPstory

Kelsie Currie
University of California, San Diego 
Spiritual Life Coordinator, Smith River 2017
Riviera UMC

 

My first SSP was in 2010 in Teec Nos Pos, Arizona. As my youth group’s rented luxury minivan pulled on to the dirt path that led to our site I was absolutely terrified. After 2 hours of energized staff members, other motivated youth, and a rundown of our week; my spirits changed completely. Since then I have served 5 summers as a youth, 2 as a staff and I have never looked back!

Every summer the thing I’ve looked forward to most has been SSP. My peers talked about summers filled with pool parties and tropical vacations. All I could talk about was my excitement for the beloved road trip with my youth group. Heading off to unknown places and welcomed into a community I felt so fortunate to serve. My friends may have looked at me like I was crazy but SSP is too special not to experience again and again. I was hooked!

 

“Dedicating a week of your summer to service not only can change a homeowner’s life, but your own.”

 

SSP allowed me an outlet to focus on someone other than myself. It has taught me that one of the best and most humbling roles that one can take to express their love is to serve. SSP has taught me that my hands and heart are capable of making a change in a community. It has taught me that the product of service goes far beyond the physical labor you do.

Building garden boxes and painting a strangers house may seem minuscule to some. Yet they represent so much more to the communities we are serving in. Dedicating a week of your summer to service not only can change a homeowner’s life, but your own. SSP opens you to new perspectives, new friendships, and a rejuvenated sense of purpose.

Each summer I was building for others, but I was also building up myself. I became a stronger leader and caring citizen. I became a better team player, a more understanding family member and friend. I strengthened my work ethic and developed a sense of civic responsibility.

 

“Luckily for me, when I was ready to deeper explore my faith, SSP was a starting place for me to do that.”

 

The skills I’m continuing to cultivate at SSP have helped develop me as a problem solver. SSP has given me the experience to serve as a role model to youth and my peers. These skills will be indispensable as I work towards being a child psychologist. My experiences at SSP have allowed me to further explore my call to ministry. I dream of not only serving youth through my career but also by inspiring and guiding them as a youth leader.

The thing that I have always loved about SSP is that it meets you exactly where you are. If you are looking for a place to bond with your youth group and make new friends SSP can be that. If you are looking for a place to build and serve in a community SSP can do that for you. Luckily for me, when I was ready to deeper explore my faith, SSP was a starting place for me to do that.

If you would have told me in 2010 that I would one day be on summer staff I would have laughed in your face. Serving on staff has been one of the most integral part of myself. It has stretched and shaped me in ways I wouldn’t have been able to fathom and I’m so grateful.

 

Editor’s note: Kelsie most recently served on staff in Smith River, CA  as the Spiritual Life Coordinator! She is a Leadership Academy fellow and her story is the ninth part of the #mySSPstory series highlighting SSP staff leaders and their stories. Join Kelsie 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.

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.

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