Sierra Service Project is well known throughout Del Norte County for the home repair and community service work done by our volunteers. With only 28,000 residents, we have had a big impact in this beautiful and very rural area since 2013. We work with residents and organizations in the coastal towns of Smith River, Fort Dick, and Crescent City as well as, at times, inland in Hiouchi and Gasquet. Because Del Norte County’s poverty rate is more than 20 percent and is one of the poorest counties in the State, we work with the entire community, including some families who are tribal members.
Service Work in Del Norte County
In Del Norte County, two thirds of our work is with homeowners, and one third with community based organizations. The type of work includes building wheelchair ramps, porches, stairs, awnings, and other general home repairs. No construction experience is needed, and you’ll be amazed at all of the work that your youth teams complete! Most projects take longer to complete than your week at SSP so you may see the beginning, middle or end of a project.
In 2019, volunteers completed 14 projects for homeowners and community organizations:
- 1 awning
- 1 deck
- 1 fence
- 3 stair projects
- 4 ramps
- 4 painting projects
- Beach clean ups with Recology
- Invasive plant removal with Tolowa Dunes Stewards and California State Parks
- Community garden work with Family Resource Center of the Redwoods and Del Norte County Community Health Center Garden
- Recology Del Norte
- California State Parks
- Building Healthy Communities Del Norte County and Adjacent Tribal Lands
- Family Resource Center of the Redwoods
- Del Norte County Community Health Center Garden
- Rural Human Services
Each week the full group volunteers with Tolowa Dunes Stewards on Adventure Wednesday removing invasive European beach grass which threatens the livelihood of native plants and animals. Youth learn about biodiversity and the importance of habitat for bees and other pollinators for the food system.
The day begins with a a one mile hike to the Tolowa Dunes State Park. Teams are encouraged to dig up the longest root (think 6 feet long!) and to make the largest pile of grass. The day is complete with lunch on the beach before heading to the Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park for the afternoon to swim in the Smith River, hike to Stout Grove, and BBQ.
Learn About Del Norte County
Download the detailed SSP Smith River Study Guide to learn about the community and get more out of your SSP experience. We suggest that you download the study guide, share with your group and discuss the materials during a planning meeting.
Follow local news: Del Norte Triplicate
- See SSP on the front page.
Online Summer 2020
During summer 2020, we hosted an online program that provided faith formation as well as connection with our community partners. We had three Community Crossing sessions led by community partners and staff:
- Card making for the Del Norte Senior Center and Smith River UMC
- A presentation from Dar Caldwell about the K!DS Learning Garden
- A presentation from Tara Dettmar about the Tolowa Dunes Stewards
Each of these organizations has added depth to SSP’s in-person summers, providing insight into Del Norte County’s environment and residents. We worked together to plan and carry out creative sessions about the community, ensuring participants would get a sense of the region’s culture, history, and dynamics without being physically present.
This summer allowed staff to push their creativity in forming a new and engaging online program for participants. Staff were able to bring their individual talents and interests to the table in a way that would not normally be integrated during an in-person summer. As they shared their passions, they also got to learn more about the passions of their youth and adult participants.
In 2020, we were able to donate $2,500 to our community partners in Del Norte County to support their year-round local work. Read more about our online program and advocacy with the Smith River community in our Community Crossing blog post.
Smith River Location
Directions to Smith River
To get to Smith River, consult Google maps or a similar mapping service to find the best route for your group.
Smith River United Methodist Church
121 Beckstead Street
Smith River, CA 95567
Smith River Climate
The average high during the summer is 65°F and low is 50°F. The area is beautiful and at times the days (and nights) can be chilly! Make sure to bring lots of layers and winter clothes – this is not your typical California summer location! Coats, sweatshirts, long pants and hats are recommended. For current weather conditions, visit the school’s Weather Bug website.