Sail to Sustainability

Sweaty Sheep: Worries to the Wind Sail to Sustainabilit

Cultivating relationships of mutual growth and dignified dialogue across denomination, social situation, political party, et cetera can be daunting; however, as any sailor would know, a boat can serve as the figurative and literal ‘common-unity’ through which authentic ‘community’ may flourish.

The late Plato stated with utter eloquence, “we grow closer in one hour of play than a lifetime of conversation.” In a society infused with proclamations of ‘spirituality over religion,’ a political and socio-economic climate of division, and a digitally ‘connected’ culture of diminished authentic interpersonal connection, Sweaty Sheep has returned to Plato’s simple call to playfulness as a means of healing and enhancing our communal spiritual growth.

Throughout the first eighteen months of Sweaty Sheep’s second chapter, we’ve been making (and riding) waves in the Santa Cruz community. We have repeatedly made headlines and heads turn through programs such as our Interfaith sunset Christmas Eve services at the “Homeless Garden Project” (reflections on how an interwoven theme of homelessness unites groups otherwise divided by doctrinal divergences during the holiday season,) our housed- homeless community garden Yoga series, our addiction rehabilitation run/walk mentorship program, and even a recent deep sea fishing trip that paired city and county council members and various community leaders alongside 23 homeless neighbors for a dynamic and healing time of play, dialogue, and relationship. We invite your team to further review media coverage of these and other examples of our work (and our original Louisville chapter) at: http://

Our program is 100% volunteer lead and founded by the 33 year old San Jose Presbytery regional homelessness and hunger affiliate, Rev. Ryan Althaus. Our playful approach to community and sharing of faith has recently gained our program recognition as the Santa Cruz ‘unification’ agent of the regional “Transforming the Bay through Christ” organization ( We have joined in the work of the city’s ‘Association of Faith Community Rotating Shelter program’ and have through it developed an innovative homelessness re- integration program placing produce rich hydroponic garden units (tended by trained homeless ‘apprentices’) into mentoring church communities that match their spiritual, social, and personal needs.

Our program is rooted in creating relationships of mutual growth utilizing deliberative shared experiences (mission and recreation) that allow authentic interaction across faith, social, and economic divisions and misperceptions.
We recommend looking at two recent news stories to help better exemplify our work:

A recent Easter service pairing our homeless participants alongside local ecumenical Santa Cruz community members for a sunrise surf and Yoga reflection on the beach: http:// creation-through-recreation-on-easter-morning

and the aforementioned fishing trip: 20160712/NEWS/160719931 .


We are excited to present a project that embraces the unrivaled value of the simple act of ‘play’ and ask for your support as we sail beyond the social, economic, faith and cultural barriers which divide our community in a vessel of storytelling, healing, mutual growth, and the cultivation of diverse relationships.

Sweaty Sheep: Worries to the Wind sailing ministry proposal

Each of our activities inspires interaction between diverse groups (ie: housed-homeless, able-disabled, cross denominational affiliation) by intentionally pairing representatives of a variety of communities in a safe “playful” setting that fosters dignified authentic interaction and experiential worship. Sailing provides an incredibly accessible and relevant means of bridging these sociological gaps and a catalyst for the of dynamic and dignified interaction in the advancement of social justice, sharing of wisdom, and promotion of interfaith and community collaboration.

Our team is elated to dive into the refurbishment of a 31ft Searunner trimaran (a three hauled sailboat) that will expand an innovative therapeutic recreation and worship program
by providing an accessible, communal, healthy, FREE and FUN resource to local nonprofit agencies, a formative mission or small group option for churches, unifier for ecumenical/ interfaith groups, and a base for our own launch into regular alternative worship services for our growing ‘flock.’

We’ve been able to test this program thanks to the donated use of a 27 foot sailboat which has allowed us to provide free retreats, alternative experiential therapy, sailing instruction, and unique support groups to a variety of groups while gaining learned wisdom that steers this expansion. We have provided recreational based opportunities such as sailing-based bible studies and accessible therapeutic offerings to the Holistic Vets group (a local homeless veteran community,) Shared Adventures (a recreational program for the developmentally and physically disabled,) the Homeless Garden Project (a multifaceted homeless job training program, and Hope Services (a relational program providing care for developmentally disabled.) These sailing retreats are part of a larger recreational offering focused on providing experiential therapy, spiritual growth, diverse holistic recovery, and community cohesion opportunities. By providing this recreational resource to our community partners we seek to amplify the work of many by adding a ‘quality’ to the lives our partnering agencies serve.

A key component in our progression towards the overall mission lies in a recent partnership with a team of recreational therapists and psychologists, Living Evolution, allowing us to offer licensed therapist supported group therapy sessions to various agencies. Living Evolution is a nonprofit group focused on experiential therapy and a core focus on transitional age at risk youth and domestic abuse recovery. In addition, our team also includes the recreational programer for the Shared Adventure program (allowing for expertise and passion in the creation of accessible opportunities for special needs population,) representatives of several interfaith communities, participant leaders of a variety of homelessness programs, and amazing volunteers that open the doors for not only sailing, but hiking, surfing, wilderness training, rafting, and even Bingo!

Seeding New Beginnings:

This funded project will allow us to further expand our partnerships throughout the community by offering opportunities such as grief support for families dealing with the terminal

Sweaty Sheep: Worries to the Wind sailing ministry proposal

illness and or loss of a loved one through Hospice of Santa Cruz, addiction recovery sessions for New Life Rehabilitation Center, as well as in and outpatient participants of Lotus Eating Disorder Center of Santa Cruz (of whom we have lead spiritual discernment programs for in the past), while forming new relationships with a variety of groups moving forward.

The project offers a unique opportunity to empower despondent individuals via a formative and visible hands on initiative that creates a long-term self-sustaining resource. The act of building a boat together is an amazing metaphor for the personal and communal growth of our participants as well as a means of creating a true sense of ownership and belonging of our community members.

Timeline and Feasibility:

We have the boat… a donated 31 foot Searunner Trimaran!
We have the harbor slip (this is actually a huge gift as the Santa Cruz harbor wait list is upwards of 20 years…. the harbor’s excitement in granting us the slip is a fantastic statement of the community support of this project!
We have some awesome volunteers and plenty of projects for all!
Our temporary 27 Ericson vessel is in action taking out small groups and cultivating community in this new ministry initiative.


To make this project a success we are in need of several material and time, inkind and monetary donations… We are completely 501c3 exempt, inclusive of the broader community, volunteer lead organization and incredibly grateful for any/all consideration and support!

Thanks you so much for your time! Ryan Althaus

Ryan Althaus (443)223-7334