by Katie Goetz
Pastor at Woodside Road United Methodist Church and Fall Matching Campaign Donor
If where my husband and I give our dollars demonstrates favoritism, then Sierra Service Project is one of our favorite non-profit organizations. While Daniel is mostly along for the ride at this point in time, I have participated with SSP in some way since 1992, whether as a camper, summer staff member, counselor, or board member. It was through SSP as a high schooler that I started learning that the way I live my Christian faith is far more important than how I think about my faith.
It was through SSP as a high schooler that I started learning that the way I live my Christian faith is far more important than how I think about my faith.
This is no small thing, I’m pretty good at living in my head and thinking that my thoughts are pretty important. It was also through SSP that I started learning that the solutions to poverty, racism, and injustice are deeper and more complex than a new roof. But, putting a new roof on someone’s home is a good place to start learning about these deeper social issues and discovering how we can be a part of the systemic change necessary to create a more just world. (Disclaimer: I’ve never been up on a roof in any of my SSP roles. I’m not sure how that happened.)
The youth on Katie’s team demolishing the old deck in Yurok, 2007.
Part of evening program in Yurok, 2007 was a trust exercise, though we’re not entirely sure what’s going on here. Let us know if you do!
Katie’s team working together to solve a problem on the new deck in Yurok, 2007.
I like to think that part of the reason why I’m the pastor, parent, and Christian that I am today is because of my experiences with SSP. We support SSP through the matching campaign because of the difference that SSP made in my own life and because we know that I’m not alone in living a life that’s been shaped by spending part of my summer at SSP for so many years. I can say that it’s our hope and prayer that SSP continues providing life shaping opportunities for youth and young adults.
But if we want to make sure that those experiences continue to be offered through this program that we so admire, then it is important to us to support SSP with our financial resources as well, and we hope you will join us.
Editor’s Note: All donations received during the Fall Matching Campaign are doubled 100% thanks to multiple generous donors like Katie and Daniel Goetz. Please give today! The campaign ends September 30.
A thank you note from Freddy Arthur
Field Supervisor at San Diego Canyonlands
Our summer with SSP volunteers was wonderful! Once again, a measurable positive impact was made in and around our community’s canyons. 2015’s efforts of helping a neighbor to a canyon rim were quadrupled this year. Four elderly or disabled neighbors’ neglected yards were cleared of years of trash and debris and then mulched to control re-growth. This work benefited the entire canyon community by reducing fire hazards and improving the aesthetics of the canyon trail head’s surroundings. SSP volunteers also improved important trails in four canyon areas, bringing to us much needed engineering skills!
Volunteers restore natural habitat and remove invasive species from a canyon in San Diego.
Some of the debris removed from canyons in San Diego this summer.
SSP’s volunteers, the numbers and variety, also proved to be a speed training for our newer staff members who had limited experience with volunteer management. I had a death in the family during the summer and I left for South Carolina on August 9th, leaving a now well-trained and experienced staff capable of managing large groups of volunteers in my, what looks to be extended, absence. This summer’s volunteers provided the gift of experience as well, thank you for that.
It was a pleasure coordinating events with Andrew, Lindsay, and Chris. They were so flexible when jobs were completed quickly and we needed volunteers sent to new locations on short notice, and the field team leaders were awesome. They ran a very efficient tight ship and their organizational efforts were much appreciated.
Thanks for another productive summer in City Heights, we look forward to the summer of 2017!
by Rupert Cooper
Adult Counselor from Central United Methodist Church in Stockton, California
Life presents many opportunities, and some people say you only get one chance. Being blessed with my trip to Spokane has given me a second. Once again my experience has renewed my confidence in the youth of our congregation at Central UMC. They now have been infused with the idea that by giving you get much more than receiving.
They now have been infused with the idea that by giving you get much more than receiving.
The exposure to new and challenging activities has increased their confidence and concept of teamwork. Nobody is a success without being part of a community, and that sense of community has been infused in them. There is something about eating peanut and jelly sandwiches that really causes you to stick together and levels the playing field. The spiritual sandwiches that we had each day at lunch caused them to focus on the spiritual side of life and not simply feeding their stomachs. They now understand that being an adult requires that you think not only of yourself but how you fit into society and hopefully make a difference.
God is good all the time, and all the time God is good!
Editor’s Note: Check out photos from Rupert’s time in Spokane. If you would like to support SSP’s programs, please consider making a tax-deductible donation today.
By Clare McCaa
Youth from Central United Methodist Church in Stockton, California
This was my first year attending Sierra Service Project and I traveled to Spokane, Washington. I can remember when my older brother came home 4 years ago after serving in South Los Angeles. He was totally excited and I now know what that excitement was all about!
This year I was lucky enough to share this experience with my dad. I was his co-pilot the whole way up and back for the long car rides. Being in the car for so long really brought us all together and there was never a dull moment. The whole trip was an adventure.
(…) I now know what that excitement was all about!
In Spokane, my work team built a double level deck. The thing I learned the most with this project was patience and that it will take a while to actually be able to see the work you have put in.
Clare, standing, works with her team to make a post plumb in Spokane.
Clare, second from last in back row, with her work team on their deck in Spokane.
Personally, throughout the week I was spiritually challenged in a great way. My work team discussed our faith as much as we could that week. Hearing about others that had the same beliefs as me was such an eye opening time. This experience was like none other I have ever had before. I can’t wait until next year!
Editor’s Note: Check out photos from Clare’s time in Spokane. If you would like to support SSP’s programs, please consider making a tax-deductible donation today.