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 PT Corps Members are some of the most amazing young adults you will ever meet!
Jaime Newton, Site Coordinator at Grace UMC
My goals this past summer were to complete my service term with Project Transformation, make some new friends, and help some children find their purpose in life. However, my time spent with Project Transformation during the Summer Program greatly exceeded my expectations. My friend Tracie always says that “Project Transformation ruins your life in the best way possible,” and I cannot think of a more accurate statement. This organization provides college students with a safe environment to discover themselves, love on some amazing children, and connect families to the churches within their communities. Project Transformation has provided me with an environment that is very open to my creativity, growth, and true self.
This past summer, the people on my team and this community pushed me to grow into a better version of myself. My team encouraged my ideas and asked for advice in my areas of strength. Although I never imagined myself staying in Dallas when I arrived in May, I am so thankful that God combined my love for children with an amazing organization like Project Transformation. I am also glad that I get to serve the amazing families at Grace UMC now during the Afterschool Program year!
There have definitely been many highs and lows that I have experienced throughout my time with Project Transformation. The best part of my job is having the opportunity to watch my kids find joy in their accomplishments and in their lives. I get to watch them work hard on completing a book and hear the excitement in their voices as they share their accomplishments with me. We, as PT Corps Members, have the opportunity to challenge them to care about their futures. I see how hard they are working to become children with great character. This past summer, our children celebrated milestones like being adopted, losing a tooth, birthdays, and making new friends. I think at the heart of Project Transformation is the growth that occurs within the children, young adult PT Corps Members, and the communities served. This organization truly transforms lives!
(Stay tuned for Part #2 next week!)
Stephen Anderson, Site Coordinator at Pleasant Mound-Urban Park UMC
I had my reservations upon my return to Project Transformation this year. I was already accustom to a certain lifestyle, I had a permanent circle of friends in Houston, and I’m much older than the average AmeriCorps Member, but I felt called so I leaped out on faith and returned this past summer.
Now, serving as the Site Coordinator at Pleasant Mound-Urban Park UMC, I’m afforded the opportunity to meet new people and absorb ideas and concepts that I may not had been exposed to before. Above all, my site’s lead pastor has been the dominating force behind breathing new ideas in my spirit. Pastor Annelda Crawford at Pleasant Mound UMC has been such a great leader, fine example, and encouragement when I need it the most.
She has humbled and inspired me in more ways than one. She does her job with a smile and if ever I need her, she’s always there in a heartbeat. I’m so grateful for this experience but most of all I’m grateful to be under her wing! Through her teachings and beautiful spirit, I know that I am not only a better Site Coordinator than when I started, but I will be a better person when I walk away from this experience.
Mitchell Lambert, Site Coordinator at Elmwood UMC
(See last week’s installment for Story #1)
My second story developed over my first three years serving with Project Transformation. At the end of the summer, our middle school students attend Urban Camp in Bridgeport, Texas for the final week of programming. The boys stay in 2-3 cabins on-site normally. During this particular summer, I had been serving at Grace UMC. We brought seven boys to Urban Camp and we were teamed up with the boys from Munger Place and Oak Cliff on the Blue Berry Bandits Team a.k.a. Triple B or B3. There were two boys from Munger Place, both of whom I had shared a cabin with the previous year. Since I had previously served at Oak Cliff, I knew 12 of the 15 boys that came from Oak Cliff as well. Needless to say, having all of these connections with the youth made for an amazing week. My fellow Corps Members and I encouraged the boys to have as much fun as possible (while still following the rules).
The youth from Oak Cliff were older than most of the boys from Grace and Munger Place, so they were the predominant leaders. Their leadership created a bond between the boys that the PT Corps Members simply could not have instilled on their own. Two of the Oak Cliff boys are best friends because they grew up together in the program like many of the participants at Oak Cliff. These two boys played a major role in our experience.
These two boys were the driving force behind the positive morale of Triple B and the ones who preached inclusion and integration between the youth who all came from different site locations. They knew the impact that Urban Camp would have on someone if they truly came into the week with a positive mindset and a drive to create a fun, intentional environment. They took in one my eighth graders who came with me from Grace. The three of them clicked right from the start. Throughout the week, great discussions were had and eloquent, slightly elaborated, stories were shared. We stayed up late sharing what circumstances in life had brought us to where we were, what we hoped for in our lives, who we wanted to meet, and how we wanted to change our personal worlds. These three boys were incredible all week. They challenged me to be a better person, listener, leader, learner, and friend. We continued to build on bonds that had been established throughout my time of service at Project Transformation, and I hope that I never fall out of touch with them, but all good times have to come to an end.
Our most recent end was the final day of Urban Camp. This day is always the worst day of the year. In the morning we must say good bye to all of our kids and in the afternoon, we must say good bye to all of our fellow PT Corps Members. This year, my morning was so much worse than my afternoon. Saying goodbye to all of the campers is hard, but those three broke me to pieces. Each one separately told me that I had made Urban Camp 2015 the best week of their lives, that I had been a great example for them to follow, and that they wished they never have to leave. The only thing I could tell them was that I loved them and if I had a son, I could only hope that he would be as great as the three of them. I broke. I broke so hard. I could not contain my emotions that burst through the dam surrounding my heart. Tears were flowing down my face at a greater volume than Knowshon Moreno after hearing the National Anthem. These boys made me feel.
These stories have been the pinnacle of my time at Project Transformation. They are stories of when I have been most impacted at Project Transformation, and of when I believe I have been the most impactful. All I can do is pray that I can continue to have my life changed and that I will continue to change the lives of our future leaders in the process.
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.