College Student, First United Methodist Church of Loomis, CA
My first SSP in Tsaile, AZ was the summer after my 8th-grade year and after that week, I was hooked! I was honored to serve as a youth member on the SSP Board for a year and had hoped to spend my last summer at SSP back in Tsaile until Covid hit and rearranged my senior year. Little did I know when I served at SSP in Chiloquin in 2019 that it would be my last. While I was bummed about what I lost that year, including my senior prom, my high school graduation, and my last opportunity to serve as a camper at SSP, I also knew that I had more than many who were struggling to survive.
As I struggled to find light and purpose during the pandemic, I jumped on the opportunity to serve in new ways with SSP! It was a wonderful diversion to get out of the house and work in the back room of the SSP office filling backpacks for kids in the community in Lukachukai, which is where I had my very first SSP experience. I have to say, I was surprised at how much those hours in the SSP office reconnected me to the community where I had once served years ago and reminded me of the importance of doing what we can, no matter how simple it seems, to help others.
“It felt good to close the circle on such a special part of my life by passing the torch onto him.”
This summer, a small group of us who missed our senior year SSP experience, worked on a house with Bruce on a Day of Service in Rancho Cordova. It was so fun being together again working on a project and eating PB&J’s for lunch. We talked, we laughed, and we worked hard, just like we had on similar sites at SSP. An added bonus was that I brought my little brother with us and introduced him to his first SSP experience! It felt good to close the circle on such a special part of my life by passing the torch onto him. When someone asks me why I spend time volunteering, I say, “Why wouldn’t I?” SSP has taught me that if we have the time and energy to share and someone needs our help, why wouldn’t we?
Melanie Oliver (& Molly’s parent!)
Christian Education Director, First United Methodist Church of Loomis, CA
At FUMC Loomis, we LOVE SSP! Since its earliest days, SSP was deeply rooted in our church community, philosophy, and tradition. SSP is what the younger kiddos hear about for years and anxiously await the time when they are old enough to go and experience SSP for themselves.
The pain and suffering in the world have become excruciatingly difficult to process over the last couple of years. We stand on the sidelines, often with privilege, seeing the despair day after day, week after week, and desperately wanting to do something… anything, but not knowing how or what. SSP’s Days of Service, and working on the house with Bruce this summer, stuffing backpacks for Lukachukai, and putting out the call for donations to the Chiloquin Food Bank, made a huge difference not only in the lives of those we are serving, but in our own. Having a wider variety of opportunities allows for a wider variety of gifts to be used!
“There is nothing like the act of serving that brings out the best in people.”
There is no greater joy for me as a pastor than seeing people realize and utilize their God-given gifts. That doesn’t necessarily mean they have the gift of scraping and painting, but it scratches the surface (pun intended) of what is happening at a glance! Maybe they have the gift of persistence, the gift of a generous spirit to those they are working for and with, the gift of organization, or inspiration, the gift of fixing tools, etc. The list goes on and on. There is nothing like the act of serving that brings out the best in people. It is imperative that we show the upcoming generations what this looks like so they will continue this crucial work for generations to come.
From the bottom of our hearts, thank you, SSP for providing opportunities that help heal the world. Thank you for reminding us that if we each give a little, it adds up quickly, and that the work of the Gospel is never done. If any of God’s children are suffering, all of God’s children are suffering.
Editor’s Note: Thank you Molly and Melanie for telling your SSP stories in our annual newsletter, and for your hard work! We are always looking for volunteers to participate in our programs repairing homes in the community and in our office behind the scenes. Reach out if you have time or resources you’d like to use to support SSP’s mission.