By SHERON C. PATTERSON
Project Transformation is gearing up for another strong summer in North Texas.
Since its founding in 1998, the ministry embraces three groups at once: churches, college students and children in low-income areas.
About 100 college-age interns plan and implement free summer day camps and after-school programs for roughly 1,000 children and teens in underserved neighborhoods, Project Transformation says. The interns see first-hand the uphill battle facing children and families in impoverished neighborhoods. The interns also meet each week with church and nonprofit leaders, exploring a vocational call to service and ministry.
The programs are held at United Methodist churches in the heart of low-income neighborhoods and help those churches connect in meaningful ways with their neighborhoods.
"The connectional nature of The United Methodist Church truly comes to life when we witness hundreds of volunteers giving their time to help children improve their reading skills or encouraging our young adults in their service and ministry exploration," said Eric Lindh, executive director of Project Transformation.
Summer is a time when academics can slip for children, so Project Transformation works with them on reading and math skills. Lindh said 96 percent of the campers maintain or improve their reading and 86 percent maintain or increase their math skills.
This year, Project Transformation iis expanding its Leaders in Training Experience, or LITE, program and expects at least 75 former campers to return to work with its elementary school children as well as develop their leadership skills.
"How incredible it is to see an increasing number of former child participants return to serve as LITE participants and even work as college interns!" Lindh said.
"I am so grateful to the churches and volunteers who continue to support this ministry," he said.
"This investment over the years has yielded results beyond our expectations."