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!
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!
Taylor Reed, PT Corps Member at Grace UMC
My name is Taylor Reed and I am the elementary Reading Coordinator at Grace UMC this summer. This is my second summer serving with Project Transformation at Grace UMC. Having been at Grace for two summers in a row now, it is amazing to see the children grow over time. This is, hands down, the best aspect about being a PT Corps Member at Project Transformation. I love the kids more than I can express and it warms my heart to see them learning and reaching their full potential. These kids have helped me grow as well. I have learned patience and humility. I can truly say that these kids have impacted my life in a way that I will never forget. I cannot even imagine saying goodbye to them in just a few short weeks!
April Phillips, LITE Coordinator at Chapel Hill UMC
My name is April Phillips and this is my first summer serving for Project Transformation. I am a LITE Coordinator at Chapel Hill UMC. I attend the University of North Texas and will be receiving my degree in Rehabilitation Studies with a minor in Human Services and Addictions.
I applied to be a part of Project Transformation this year simply because I needed 400 hours of hands-on experience by the end of the summer to complete my degree plan. My main goal was to figure out whether or not I wanted to pursue a career working with children. Despite being unsure, here at Project Transformation I have absolutely fallen head over heels for all of the children in our program.
The high school students at Chapel Hill are absolutely a joy to be around. Although none of them are perfect and they all come from different backgrounds, Monday through Thursday, they come together to build each other up through teamwork and creativity. Each LITE (Leaders in Training Experience) participant has unique characteristics that radiate onto the elementary kids and make an invaluable impression.
Speaking of, the elementary kids have grown on me immensely throughout my time serving at Chapel Hill. I can be as goofy as I want around them and there is absolutely no judgement. They think I am a rockstar and so to them, I am. Although I do not get to be with the elementary kids throughout the whole day, I have developed a love for these hilarious balls of energy. “Harambee” is by far one of my favorite parts of the day. This is the time where I can interact with and observe my LITEs and the elementary kids together. Watching their faces light up when we open the doors at 9 a.m. sharp is such a heartwarming feeling. Just to have a million little tiny humans so excited to see YOU, and give YOU giant hugs, and bring YOU artwork gives you an irreplaceable feeling of happiness, and makes all the responsibility of the job completely worthwhile.
Relationships are blooming all over the place at Project Transformation and I am just glad I get to take part in it all!
Sarah Easley, PT Corps Member at Munger Place Church
“I see it.” If you are reading this, you probably didn’t give that sentence a second thought, but those three words put the biggest smile on a child’s face and tears in my eyes. See, to any ordinary person this sentence carries no value, but for one child it changed their life and opened the door to a world of possibilities.
It was his first sentence to ever read.
Five weeks ago this young boy could not recognize most of the letters in the alphabet, but with the help of one volunteer, thirty minutes a day, four days a week for a month, he can now read this sentence from a book. At this moment, even though he didn’t even realize it, this child’s life changed forever.
My name is Sarah Easley, and it’s moments like these that make me proud to be working with Project Transformation. I’m from a small town in Mississippi where the population is fewer than 500 people and there are far more acres of pastures than there are houses. Needless to say, coming to Dallas, Texas to spend a summer was a slight adjustment for me, but I couldn’t be more content about my decision. I’m a senior at Mississippi State University studying Elementary Education, so when I heard about Project Transformation last fall, I quickly applied and anxiously waited to hear back concerning my acceptance. Now here I am, nine months later serving as the Elementary Reading Coordinator for 73 elementary students at Munger Place Church in the heart of Dallas, Texas.
Working as a Reading Coordinator this summer has been my favorite job yet and it only reassures me of my decision to be a teacher. Every morning, I get to watch as these children interact with volunteers, developing their reading and comprehension skills. Then, I get to spend time with them myself in the afternoon, teaching them how to apply what they read in a text to their own life and various other literacy skills. I am so grateful to have this opportunity to practice running a classroom and teaching literacy while I am still in college. Even more so, I am glad that I get to have this experience in a positive, helpful, Christian environment with some of the most precious children in all of Texas!
“I see it.” One child’s life changed forever. What about you? How can you change a life for the better?