For many teenagers, summer is a time for relaxation, hanging out with friends and enjoying a break from school. But 140 adventurous young people from around the western United States are doing something different. These dedicated teenagers will spend a week repairing homes in the Oakhurst and Coarsegold area.
These youth are part of a unique nonprofit organization called the Sierra Service Project (SSP). This Christian organization puts teens to work in communities throughout the West, where they build wheelchair ramps, paint, and do other kinds of home repair projects for low-income residents. They also devote their energy to helping other local nonprofits. The volunteers learn about the community, develop new friendships, grow their faith and make many, many new friends.
The organization chose the Oakhurst area as one of its project locations this summer because of its connection with New Community United Methodist Church in Oakhurst and is relationship with Camp Oakhurst, where the volunteers will be staying. Volunteers will be in Oakhurst from July 21 through August 10.
Why would a teenager give up his or her free time to do this?
According to Bri Dennison, SSP's local team leader, youth benefit enormously from this experience:
"Our volunteers work their hearts out and give incredible amounts of energy to the work. But they always feel they receive much, much more in terms of fun, friendships and the incredible feeling of being a positive force in the lives of others."
Rev. Helen Mansfield, from New Community United Methodist Church, is collecting work requests from seniors and others in need of home repairs. Helen can be reached at the church office at (559) 683-2652.
About Sierra Service Project
Sierra Service Project's mission is to build faith and strengthen communities through service to others. Started in 1975, the Sierra Service Project offers youth from churches of all denominations a chance to grow their faith by putting it into action in service to others. In the process, youth learn valuable skills and lessons, and begin a life-long commitment to volunteerism and service.
SSP is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Its offices are located in Carmichael, California. Community service locations include Navajo Nation, AZ; Susanville, CA; Smith River, CA; Sacramento, CA; Stockton, CA; Coarsegold, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Portland, Oregon; and Chiloquin, OR.