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Pastor Pamela Coy

Pastor Pamela Coy

Pastor of Smith River United Methodist Church in Smith River, California

When I was first assigned as part time ‘retired’ pastor to Smith River UMC, and before I met the congregation, I looked on their Facebook page. I saw youth, lots of young people, full of energy. This will be fun, I thought!

It turned out the youth were from Sierra Service Project, who used the Smith River United Methodist Church campus as their base of operations during summer. It is delightful having the staff around all summer so we can really get to know them. Then, each week, a new team comes. It is exciting to discover who they are.

The youth and adults are all interesting and adventurous people…why else would they come to this remote region of California? Everyone is invited to community dinner on Tuesdays with the volunteers, and that is when we get to hear their remarkable stories.

“I believe the love does linger…the energy clings to the walls even when the church becomes silent and much older in the fall.”

The first summer I was here, SSP volunteers helped rebuild a gate in the parsonage yard and I got to know several teams. Last summer my neighbor got a ramp in her backyard so she could get out there in her wheelchair. She has been spending more time outside this fall, yay!

All year, people in and around Smith River who have worked with Sierra Service Project talk about the gift they received from SSP. The staff is truly dedicated – ready to greet the teams, house and feed them, and make sure they have what they need to get the jobs done. I am amazed at their stamina.

I believe the Smith River UMC congregation remains vital all year round because of the love and excitement that fills the church all summer. Jesus calls us to love one another, and build a sturdy foundation. I believe the love does linger…the energy clings to the walls even when the church becomes silent and much older in the fall. SSP is so welcome here every year. Hugs all around…

Editor’s note: This article is featured in SSP’s 2018 Annual Newsletter; read all the stories written by youth volunteers, summer staff, and community members. Request a hard copy newsletter to be mailed to you.

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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.
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