We are so excited you have decided to visit the PT Corps Member Log! This is a place where our AmeriCorps Members who serve as young adults leaders can share about their experiences while serving with Project Transformation. Please read their stories of transformation and learn more about our programs. We promise, our interns are some of the most amazing young adults you will ever meet!
Mitchell Lambert, Site Coordinator at Elmwood UMC
The mission of Project Transformation: to engage young adults in purposeful leadership and ministry, support underserved children and families, and connect churches to communities in need. This simple line has framed the last three years of my life. Project Transformation has provided me with a place to mentor young kids who have shown me how to live a life of joy, churches that have taken me in as one of their own during my times in Dallas, and friends who have guided my decisions since I met them. I am currently serving at my fourth Project Transformation site location. I have served at Oak Cliff in 2013, Christ’s Foundry in 2014, Grace in 2015, and Elmwood during the 2015-16 academic year. There are two experiences throughout my terms of service that have shaped my perception of my work at Project Transformation.
The first story happened during my second term of service, but the impact was made in the previous summer. My first term of service was at Oak Cliff in the summer of 2013. I had some wonderful kids. My second summer of service was at Christ’s Foundry in the summer of 2014. During that summer, I was able to go to a Family Fun Night at Oak Cliff. I walked in to see one of my children from the previous summer wearing a LSU shirt, my alma mater. I sat down and immediately started telling him how much I loved his shirt and all he could do was sit there and laugh about how ridiculous I was being. His mom came and sat across the table from us and overheard me talking about his shirt. She began to tell me that he had a PT Corps Member the previous summer. The Corps Member was passionate about his school and showed her son so much love, compassion, and fun that he wanted to emulate that person’s passion for life. The Corps Member was always smiling and telling her son that he could change the world even if it was just one person at a time. She then told me that her son received the LSU shirt he was wearing as a Christmas present and that it quickly became one of his favorite shirts. Then, she closed by simply saying that she hoped her son would have PT Corps Members like that for the rest of his summers at Project Transformation.
The entire time, the mom was unaware that I was the person she was talking about. I could not believe that this family still remembered me much less thought of me so highly. Hearing this story straight from her allowed me to see that all of my work from the summer before had come to fruition. I had made a difference and unlike some of my peers, I was able to see that difference firsthand!
(Stay tuned for Mitchell’s second story next week!)
Caitlin Harris, Site Coordinator at Chapel Hill UMC
My name is Caitlin Harris and I am the Site Coordinator at Chapel Hill UMC for the 2015-16 Afterschool Program. It is crazy to think that this is my fourth term of service with Project Transformation! I have served in Bartlesville, Oklahoma (2012) and in Dallas, Texas at Grace UMC (2014) and Casa Linda UMC (2015). I was looking through old photos the other day and I thought I would show some of my highlights of serving with Project Transformation with you!
I cannot imagine my life without these experiences and I am truly blessed to have the opportunity to work with such amazing PT Corps Members and kids this year. We have just finished the first full week of the Afterschool Program and I already love my kids! I am so excited to see how they progress socially and academically this school year!
It is the first day of the After-School Program season and we are so excited to introduce our Site Coordinators and Reading Curriculum Coordinator to you! These PT Corps Members have all served with Project Transformation before and we were curious, what is it that brought them back? By way of introduction, they have answered this very question for us!
“I came back to Project Transformation because I love this program and its mission. I came back for the After-School Program as a Site Coordinator because I saw it as a great opportunity to work on my leadership skills. I am so happy to be back!”
Caitlin Harris, Chapel Hill UMC
“This past summer was my first time serving with Project Transformation and it was a truly transformative summer. The community and the children within Project Transformation helped me learn more about myself and the world around me. I decided to come back because I wanted to continue building relationships with the children, families, my site church, and other PT Corps Members here in Dallas. I am excited to spend my year serving alongside the other amazing Site Coordinators to help continue the amazing work that is done through Project Transformation.”
Jaime Newton, Grace UMC
“I decided to come back as an After-School Program Site Coordinator because of the love I have for the program. I hope to follow the footsteps of the Site Coordinators I have worked with these past two years to make the After-School Program as fun and awesome as I can.”
Valerie Ramirez, Christ’s Foundry UMC
“The staff and PT Corps Members of Project Transformation have continually poured into me during my first three summers of service and have played an integral role in my personal development. I have also enjoyed working with the kids and watching them go through personal discoveries in school subjects, practical knowledge, and theological ideologies. These moments have provided me with wonderful experiences and relationships that I know I will cherish forever. I cannot wait to spend a year living with my fellow Project Transformation After-School Program leaders and serving our children.”
Mitchel Lambert, Elmwood UMC
“At first, I came back to Project Transformation after my first summer in 2012 because I had such an incredible experience with the staff, my fellow PT Corps Members, and especially the kids. In the four summers I have served with Project Transformation I have seen the program adapt to the needs of both the kids and the PT Corps Members. It is this openness to change and the will to try new ideas to better serve the kids and the PT Corps Members that makes this program stand out in a way that keeps pulling me back.”
Philip Espinoza, Munger Place Church
“Project Transformation represents change for me. Serving in the summers of 2007, 2009, and 2015, I walked away with more awareness of myself and who I’m growing to be, so I feel committing to a year of service for my last AmeriCorps term would complete the journey. I’m completely open to gaining new experiences at Project Transformation and this is what led me to serve in the After-School Program as well as the Summer Program. I look forward to serving as a Site Coordinator at Pleasant Mound this year!”
Stephen Anderson, Pleasant Mound-Urban Park UMC
There are many reasons for returning to serve with Project Transformation, but the most important reason is the relationships. Throughout the time that I have worked at Project Transformation, I have made some great relationships with the staff, churches, families and most importantly, the children that I serve. I am glad to be serving one more year in this program and look forward to the relationships that I will be building again this year!
Felipe Alambar, Walnut Hill UMC
“After working as a PT Corps Member in Summer 2013, it was obvious to me that this program offers something special for its employees. Upon returning in 2014 as a Youth Reading Curriculum Coordinator, my sentiment was affirmed. Project Transformation simply offers the best leadership and growth opportunities that a college-aged young adult could hope for. This job is rewarding in both the inherent nature of the work and also in the personal development that each PT Corps Member can experience. Returning to Project Transformation is an easy decision when the staff of the program is so devoutly committed to the progression of its employees.”
Dewey Marshall, Reading Curriculum Coordinator
Sebastian Castillo, PT Corps Member at Chapel Hill UMC
This is my first summer with Project Transformation and I have deeply enjoyed every aspect of being a PT Corps Member. I came in not knowing what to expect, but knew the experience would allow me to grow in my faith, as a professional, and as a student. My goal here has been to solidify my calling in serving others and to be an inspiring difference in the kids’ lives. In my time here, I have learned many things about myself and have realized how much of a blessing this opportunity has been.
Coming in as a Reading Coordinator (RC) was somewhat daunting due to the additional responsibilities of helping the kids grow in their ability to read and comprehend during the summer. I was afraid of not being able to advance the youths’ literacy skills, but I knew as long as I gave my all and expressed my genuine care for their future, everything would be fine. As the summer has progressed, and I have grown closer to the youth, I realize how fun being a RC really is! Although the kids may not always prefer reading, learning new SAT words, and making personal connections to the stories, I believe they are beginning to see the significance reading makes in their lives. When I was their age, I would not read a book to save my life, but I learned the importance of picking up a novel as I began to mature and work towards advancing my education. During reading time with the youth, I see potential in them all. I know that even though getting through reading time every day has its ups and downs, it makes me proud to see that they will sit quietly and read after some convincing. Not only does reading give them something productive to do during the summer months, but it is a progressive step in refining their literacy skills and education.
Here at Project Transformation, I just want to make a difference. I want the youth to know they can move mountains no matter what others may say or where they are from. Every individual has a story that makes them who they are. When I look at the kids, I firmly believe each and every one of them can be great! Although I was hesitant at first about being the Youth Reading Coordinator for my site, it has been a true blessing. I see the role I play and how much of a difference reading time can make in their future. Being a part of Project Transformation, meeting like-minded individuals, and serving the community is a memory I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
Caroline Hoffman, PT Corps Member at Oak Cliff UMC
This summer, I have had the opportunity to serve the elementary children at Oak Cliff United Methodist Church as the Reading Coordinator. Although I have served as a volunteer for Project Transformation Nashville for the past four summers, there is nothing comparable to my experience as a Corps Member in Dallas. There are many moments from this summer that I would love to share, but I have narrowed it down to my top three:
- Singing karaoke with my kids at Family Fun Night
I had the pleasure of working the karaoke station at our final Family Fun Night last week, where I got to let go and be totally silly singing anything from the Frozen soundtrack to Taylor Swift with my kids.
- Watching a boy read his first book
One of our rising second graders returned to Project Transformation for his third summer and has never read a book since first joining the program. However, after lots of practice with letter sounds and phonics games, I had the blessing of witnessing this child read his first book! Since then, he has gone on to read many other beginner books and he shows me every day why Project Transformation is such an incredible program!
- The endless love that children give
There is nothing better than being greeted in the morning with a big hug from a small person. The kids at Oak Cliff UMC have so many amazing gifts, talents and qualities that they continue to share with us this summer and I cannot wait for these to be shared with the world!
Tony Mendoza, PT Corps Member at Elmwood UMC
Hi, I’m Tony Mendoza and I am a PT Corps Member at Elmwood UMC! This is my second summer working with Project Transformation and I absolutely love it! This summer I am working with the youth at Elmwood UMC. Going into the summer, I knew it was going to be a challenge working with middle school kids, but I was determined to make this summer special for them and my fellow Corps Members. It has been a struggle transitioning from working with the elementary-aged participants last summer to now working with the 6 – 9 grade participants. The youth at Elmwood and my fellow PT Corps Members have definitely made this summer special already though!
My youth have shown so much love and vulnerability while always making my days so much better. “Celebrating diversity” is a key program pillar at Project Transformation and you see this come alive at Elmwood UMC. We all have a different story and I’m glad that some of the kids at Elmwood have been gracious enough to share their stories with me. I’m looking forward to the last few days of the summer as I continue working with a special group of youth participants who have shown and taught me so much – more than they know.
Katy Oliphint, PT Corps Member at Elmwood UMC
My name is Katy Oliphint and this summer, I have had the pleasure of serving the youth of Elmwood United Methodist Church as a PT Corps Member. This is my first summer at Project Transformation and let me just say that this internship has far exceeded my expectations in many different ways. Not only has my life been greatly impacted by these smart, humorous, and loving teens, but also the youth at Elmwood have been able to make an impact of their own.
As part of the curriculum earlier this summer, the youth were asked to create a small service project for a local charity or cause of their choice. We spent the beginning of the week learning about different organizations raising awareness around issues facing the world today. When it came time to decide what cause we were going to support for the service project, I was blown away at the number of ideas the kids came up with. These teens are passionate about a wide variety of causes! After narrowing down our options and talking it over, the youth decided to raise money for Genesis Women’s Shelter, a safe space for women and children escaping the dangers of domestic violence. Elmwood youth were excited to raise money and wanted to turn this small service project into something fun and different—so we put on a car wash!
I’ll admit, I was worried that the car wash would not go over well. We made some last minute posters and flyers to post in the church and hand out to parents the day before. I did not think the kids would want to put in the effort to make the car wash successful. But as always, the kids blew me away. They took their posters with pride and waved to cars passing by the church. The kids kindly took turns between washing, rinsing, and drying the cars and they had pure joy in their eyes while doing it. When it was over, we counted the donations given. We collected a little over $100! When we announced our total to the kids, they were ecstatic. It was amazing to see Elmwood youth come together to give back to their community and make a difference. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to work with these kids. I have seen their beautiful hearts and have been greatly impacted by their enthusiasm to help others. Service is fun!