On a cool Friday in March 2014, a group of twenty-three youth and adults from San Diego County joined with three churches from throughout California to serve in the middle of South Los Angeles for a Weekend of Service organized by Sierra Service Project (SSP).
The San Diego County group, gathered by Rev. Rick Malec from San Luis Rey Valley UMC and many of whom are in middle school, worked alongside community members from the Coalition for Responsible Community Development (CRCD) to weed and prepare a community garden for planting. With CRCD, they also worked in a trash-strewn residential alleyway to clean up and make drastic beatifications.
Working with LA Green Grounds, they helped create an edible garden in the front yard of a resident who otherwise would have difficulty accessing fresh, healthy food. As a way of showing love and compassion for over 300 homeless on Skid Row, the group also partnered with Union Rescue Mission to serve guests ice cream in what Rev. Malec characterized as “transformative” for him and his youth.
All of the service work was difficult and trying, covering SSP volunteers in dirt and sweat. For Rev. Malec, this experience is summed up beautifully by realizing that when we “help bring love to people who are hurting, [we are] transformed in the grace of God.”
When we show love to family and friends, we can see the long-term effects as we continue alongside them on our life journeys. When we serve and love those who we do not know, we put faith in the love of God that our service will continue to serve them long after we have gone.
Sierra Service Project still has summer availability for its week-long service programs for High School and Junior High youth. For more information, please visit www.sierraserviceproject.org or call the office at (916) 488-6441.
Submitted by Sierra Service Project