Cards for Humanity

Cards for Humanity

By Joshua Phillips

Staying connected and being an active member of any community is really important. That’s why we wanted to host a space this summer for people to feel a sense of togetherness.

The main goal for our ‘Cards for Humanity’ Choose an SSP Adventure (CASA) session was to encourage participants to reach out to different members of their communities, whether that be on a small personal scale, or for larger contributors, like our first responders. A lot of our SSP participants even found another SSP buddy to be pen pals with.

Letter writing has always been something special to me. Being raised in the digital age, letters almost seemed like a relic of my grandparents’ generation. It was something that older members of my community seemed to do, but I was always fascinated by how a note could travel the globe to reach another person.

“Having a tangible note that I could hold onto was very exciting for someone without a phone.”

I have family in the Midwest. Growing up, it was so special to wait a week or two to continue a conversation with my cousins about what life was like in an area so different from my own. Having a tangible note that I could hold onto was very exciting for someone without a phone.

Writing a letter at home is really simple. A piece of paper, an envelope, a stamp, and an address is all you need to send a piece of yourself to someone else. Just tell them how your day was going, or maybe a funny event that happened to you. On a broader level, you can let your local fire department or community organization know how appreciative you are of the job that they do.

The letter can be as simple or complex as you want. I personally like to get stationery supplies and wax seal mine with plants from my garden for a personal touch. Once your letter is sealed up, drop it in your mailbox to be sent off. Hopefully, in a week or two, you’ll get a response and the cycle can start all over again. How exciting!


Editor’s Note: Did you know SSP will return to in-person service in summer 2022? Whether you participate yourself or know someone who volunteers, you can carry this practice of letter-writing into next summer! As the summer approaches, we will post mailing addresses on our partner community pages – stay tuned!

Understanding Resurrection Through Art

Understanding Resurrection Through Art

By Everest Harvey

Hey SSP! My name is Everest, I was the Spiritual Life Coordinator for the Environmental and Housing Justice team this summer. As you likely know, the theme this summer was ‘Arise.’ This theme followed the cycle of a resurrection – death, waiting, new life, and moving forward. One activity we did as a part of my program was the following three-part project. To try it for yourself, get two pieces of paper and a glue stick.

“The theme this summer was ‘Arise.’ This theme followed the cycle of a resurrection – death, waiting, new life, and moving forward”

Part One

Think about something in your life that ended. Write or draw about it on your paper, try to take up as much of the paper as possible, use color, etc. Don’t worry about the drawing being “good,” it can be as messy and abstract as you want, you will be the only one who sees it. Fill up the space on the page with extra words or scribbles or shapes that describe how you felt during or after whatever you’re describing.

Part Two

Tear up your drawing into pieces, as many as you want, checking in with yourself and how you feel as you do this. Allow yourself to feel like you’re letting something go.

Part Three

Take the pieces from your drawing and make a collage/mosaic on your other piece of paper. This can look like anything. As you are piecing together your new work of art, remind yourself that sometimes endings can make way for something new. Reflect on what you learned from the ending you had in mind when you created your original piece, and what this new piece of art means to you.

This activity captures one of the main themes of the summer – even if an ending is painful and feels final, it is making room for something new and beautiful. Resurrection is all around us, and the model set by Christ’s resurrection is recognizable in our own lives if we take time to look.


Editor’s Note: You can implement this activity (and others like it) with your own group using SSP’s Arise curriculum, available on the online store. Stay tuned for more news on how SSP is ‘arising’ back to in-person programs! We can’t wait to explore faith and build community alongside you again.

The SSP Songbook: Make Your Voice Heard!

The SSP Songbook: Make Your Voice Heard!

by Kate Grobey, 2019-21 staff alum

Greetings SSP community! As we wrap up our 2021 summer program, we are grateful we got to see many of you online, and we joyfully anticipate seeing more of you next year!

While we have been unable to gather in person, SSP’s HQ and summer staff have been collaborating on several projects behind the scenes, in preparation for future in-person programs. One of those projects is revisiting SSP’s beloved songbook. So far, we’ve come up with a lot of ideas for what we’d like to improve before next year! These include:

  • Compiling training resources for song leaders
  • Providing chord modifications and charts for more accessible playing
  • Adding instructions for movement and SSP-style singing
  • Considering carefully how songs align with our theology, traditions, goals, etc.
  • Pruning out songs that are past their time to make room for more songs we love!

Here’s where you come in! We’d love to hear from the SSP community. What do you love about the songbook? What would make it even better? Are there any songs you’d like to sing at SSP? Use this Google form to add your suggestions and submissions.

Editor’s Note: We can’t wait to sing together in-person again! Attend our virtual Town Hall on September 8 to hear more about these opportunities.

Meet the 2021 Summer Staff

Meet the 2021 Summer Staff

We are so excited to embark on our 46th summer of fellowship and fun! Read on to learn more about the twelve passionate young people who will design and lead our summer program.

Our site partnerships look different than before. Participants will have an opportunity to connect with and learn from various community partners and explore topics important to them. Join us to develop skills around cultural humility, elevating local voices, and better understanding our neighbors.

Indigenous Communities Today

  • Jessica Parker, Site Director
  • Maggie Guekguezian, Spiritual Life Coordinator
  • Ronnie Swenson, Media Coordinator
  • Ashley Rios, Activities Coordinator
  • Kate Grobey, Activities Coordinator
  • Lauren Reynolds, Activities Coordinator
Jessica Parker, Site Director

What is your favorite part of the online summer program?

“Definitely Community Crossing! I’m able to combine my own passions about food insecurity and food deserts to teach youth about how those issues relate to the communities we serve with. Community Crossing provides a virtual connection to the place and people youth would be interacting with in-person at SSP, which is also really important.”Jessica Parker

Maggie Guekguezian, Spiritual Life Coordinator

What are you hoping to share with participants this summer?

“I hope to share some of the many practices of spiritual reflection I’ve encountered in my studies and maintain in my life. I hope sharing this will help participants gain insights about themselves, the Divine, and how to live in community with each other.”Maggie Guekguezian

Ronnie Swenson, Media Coordinator

What are you hoping to share with participants this summer?

“I’m really looking forward to sharing life experiences with participants and hearing their stories as well. We all have been affected by this past year in many ways and getting the time to share and listen to others will be greatly beneficial to everyone.” Ronnie Swenson

Ashley Rios, Activities Coordinator

What is your favorite part of the online summer program?

Getting to meet people I wouldn’t meet if we were in person. It was super cool and I can’t wait to meet more people this summer! – Ashley Rios

Kate Grobey, Activities Coordinator

What are you hoping to share with participants this summer?

I am hoping to provide fun activities this summer, as well as meaningful ways to stay engaged in our own communities and service during times of physical distancing. – Kate Grobey

Lauren Reynolds, Activities Coordinator

What are you looking forward to this summer?

I am looking forward to making new connections and learning more about Indigenous Communities Today. I am so excited to continue learning about my faith, my team, and make new friends in the process! – Lauren Reynolds

Environmental and Housing Justice

  • Austin Jones, Site Director
  • Everest Harvey, Spiritual Life Coordinator
  • Kathryn Henry, Media Coordinator
  • Alli Meusling, Activities Coordinator
  • Amanda Smith, Activities Coordinator
  • Joshua Philips, Activities Coordinator
Austin Jones, Site Director

What are you most excited for this summer?

“More than anything I am looking forward to seeing participants on a day-to-day basis again. COVID has been hard for everyone over the past year and seeing participants every day last summer was really fulfilling for me. It gave me a sense of connection that I am excited to rekindle this summer.”Austin Jones

Everest Harvey, Spiritual Life Coordinator

What is your favorite part of the online summer program?

“I love getting to be part of building a community even from so far apart! The online program allows for a lot of different people to come together no matter where they are or what season of life they are in, and that is really special.” – Everest Harvey

Kathryn Henry, Media Coordinator

What are you looking forward to about this summer?

“I’m looking forward to stepping into the new MC role and finding new ways to connect with the SSP community. Unlike last year, this program was designed for an online format from the beginning, so I’m excited about improving on what we were able to do last summer. As always, I’m also excited to spend (virtual) time with my staff team and our participants!”Kathryn Henry

Alli Meusling, Activities Coordinator

What are you looking forward to this summer?

I’m looking forward to getting to meet all of our wonderful participants! We have an amazing program in the works for y’all and we can’t wait to share it with you!Alli Meusling

Amanda Smith, Activities Coordinator

What are you looking forward to this summer?

I am looking forward to learning alongside participants and fellow staff members while incorporating little touches of the staff magic that makes SSP such an amazing experience. – Amanda Smith

Joshua Phillips, Activities Coordinator

What are you looking forward to this summer?

Getting to meet all the new participants, and see some familiar faces from last year! 🙂 – Joshua Phillips

Editor’s Note: Join these passionate staff members to learn more about our partner communities and cultivate an ethic of service through collaboration! Learn more and register.

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Sierra Service Project works to build strong connections and resilience among communities. Join us in home repair work so residents throughout the Western United States can safely age in place.

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