Sierra Service Project (SSP) is an ecumenical Christian nonprofit organization, providing life-changing service projects in low-income communities. This summer, we invited high school, middle school, young adult and intergenerational participants to join our young adult summer staff in exploring faith, building bridges between communities, and having fun right where we were. Learn more about our 2020 summer theme, Grounded.
Explore. Build. Grow.
Gather With Us to Look Ahead to 2021
SSP’s new fiscal year began on October 1st. After a year of stretching and adapting to challenging times, and an ongoing suspension of in-person service, we know our dedicated supporters are anxious to find out what’s in store for the coming year.
Our headquarters staff has been in constant communication with our board of directors to guide SSP through these times. These conversations include plans for a safe return to in-person service, expanding our online program, and hybrid in-person/online programs.
At the end of this month, we will have program updates for you. Please mark your calendars for our next online Town Hall on Wednesday, October 28th from 3:30pm to 4:30pm Pacific Time. We will use a similar format to our May Town Hall, hosting a Zoom webinar, which will also be live streamed to our Facebook page.
Growing, Surviving, Thriving
We are reflecting on our 2020 fiscal year, which ended last week, and we are very grateful for the ongoing support, prayers, and guidance from our SSP family.
When the COVID-19 crisis led us to cancel in-person service opportunities, there was a lot of uncertainty about SSP’s overall financial position. We worked hard to reduce our expenses, received funding from The Cares Act’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and were continually humbled and blessed by the support of our donor community. In addition, some of our participant summer groups chose to donate their participant fees back to SSP.
Last month, we set a goal to raise $30,000 in 30 days. We’re happy to announce that 33 donors helped us exceed our goal by contributing $35,000. In lieu of hands-on service this summer, we committed $37,500 of direct financial support to over 20 organizations based in our partner communities. One of these organizations is Lake County’s North Coast Opportunities, which provides resources for low-income residents facing food and housing insecurity, and offers early educational opportunities.
“As a former SSP participant and staff member, I am part of a different staff these days; one that is receiving this gift from SSP. Thank you.
SSP changes lives and this gift will make a difference in so many lives. SSP is the gift of grace that just keeps giving, over the years, again and again.”
– Cindy Storrs, Lead Housing Case Manager with North Coast Opportunities
As we wrap up our 2020 fiscal year, we will have financial statements available soon on our website. While we will end the year with a small deficit, we have enough reserves to continue reduced operations until we can safely host in-person volunteers again.
Operations Update: Starting this week, the SSP office will be closed every other Friday. This reflects the reduction in pay headquarters staff are taking as we begin our new fiscal year. We have been fortunate to make it through the summer with the support of PPP funds, but are now preparing for a leaner season as we navigate what will emerge in 2021. Thank you for your patience as we may be slower to respond, and for your continued investment and support of SSP’s mission.
New Youth Opportunities
We’re excited to continue empowering youth in new and exciting ways in 2021!
Our board of directors has elected three youth representatives for the coming fiscal year, who will serve a one-year term and play an important part in steering SSP through this transformative season.
All three of our new youth board members are high school seniors who participated in our 2020 online program, so we know they are well equipped to provide valuable insight into SSP’s evolving landscape.
- Olivia Sheaffer has participated four times with Temecula UMC
- Sophia Wood has participated four times with Point Pleasant UMC in Elk Grove
- Tyler Ross has participated three times with the Church of the Good Shepherd in Arcadia
We are excited to welcome Olivia, Sophia, and Tyler (and our five new adult board members) to our hard-working board as we continue to plan new opportunities in 2021. We will be spotlighting all our new board members this month on Facebook and Instagram. Stay tuned!
ZZP with SSP: Zooming with New Friends!
Join SSP for an hour of fellowship with youth from all over the country! See old friends, and meet new ones, in a safe and affirming environment centered on faith, fun, and serving others through advocacy.
This is the first in a series of free monthly gatherings, led by SSP’s new Youth Advisory Council. We will be holding the first ZZP with SSP on Thursday, October 29th from 3:30 to 4:30pm Pacific Time. All youth, parents, and youth leaders are invited.
We’ll send a seasonal SSP sticker to each person who attends! We’ll also raffle off a $20 coupon to SSP’s online store for one lucky participant at each gathering. There will be special incentives for youth who participate in three monthly gatherings this school year, as well as all six, so be sure to join starting in October.
SSP Staff Alumni Private Facebook Group:
If you’ve served at least one summer on staff (during any of our 45 years of service) you’re invited to join our private SSP Staff Alumni Facebook Group! We’re having lots of fun building community online by gathering monthly for Zoom Happy Hours. Join us for our next gathering, a Staff Alumni Talent Show, on Friday, October 30th at 5pm Pacific!
Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Survey:
The past year has seen systemic inequalities become part of our national conversation. In an ongoing effort to live into SSP’s stated values of inclusion and belonging, we are pledging to make diversity, equity, and inclusion a central component of our programs and organizational processes in the coming months and years. SSP’s DEI survey, published later this month, will ask about your experiences with SSP, and ways we can either do better or continue our existing work in this area. Stay tuned for how you can share your thoughts with SSP’s leadership.
Inside the Margins: SSP E-News
Email us if you have a story to share with the SSP community! Inside the Margins is published the first Wednesday of the month. Here are our most recent newsletters:
Spiritual Sandwiches are published every week that you can use to discuss with your loved ones and faith communities, written by SSP staff over the ages. We invite you to share in fellowship and reflection on these questions with family, friends, in person at home, or over video chat with your faith community!
By Smith River Staff Bruce Ferguson (Site Director), Austin Jones (Spiritual Life Coordinator), Erin Kistler, Colleen Mirza, and Alli Muesling This summer was our eighth year partnering with the Smith River and Del Norte County communities. Over the years, SSP has cultivated deep connections with community members and partner organizations in this region to serve […] Continue Reading
By Lake County Summer Staff Kelsie Currie (Site Director), Em Harvey (Spiritual Life Coordinator), Meghan Andrus, Jordan Garvine, Catie Parker, Evan Rosenblum Our summer theme “Grounded” revolved around growth – exploring what we need to grow, seeking out healthy environments and challenges, choosing how to be present, and spreading growth into our communities and daily […] Continue Reading