Interns at Project Transformation put fun in ministry
By ERIC LINDH
Project Transformation has celebrated the completion of another incredible summer and its 14th year of ministry, ending the season with a banquet July 25 at Methodist Medical Center Dallas. What started as an idea sketched on a napkin over a meal between Sarah Wilke and the late Dr. Leighton K. Farrell has grown beyond anyone’s initial expectations.
This summer, 90 college interns served more than 900 children and teens from low- income neighborhoods throughout the North Texas Conference. Nine churches hosted summer day camps, providing a safe place for children and youth to be nurtured in body, mind and spirit, and build relationships with Christian young adults.
Project Transformation focused on one of the challenges facing low-income students — summer reading loss. A recent Rand Corp. report found that summer learning loss disproportionately affects these students, while their higher-income peers post gains over the summer. Most disturbing is that learning loss is cumulative, so over time these different learning rates create a significant achievement gap. But the research also found that a structured summer reading program helps mitigate the loss, resulting in noteworthy differences in vocabulary, comprehension and fluency.
Project Transformation's success in eliminating summer reading loss with 97 percent of its children hinges on the strong support provided by partnering churches in the conference. This year, more than 1,500 volunteers from those churches read one-on-one with children for 40 minutes daily.
But the reach of the ministry does not stop with the children. This is a life-changing experience for the interns.
Antoine Girard, a college intern for the past four years, eloquently shared how Project Transformation has been a blessing in his life and opened new doors for leadership and ministry.
What really sets Project Transformation apart is how much it invests in the young adult interns. In addition to experiencing poverty and the needs of low-income neighborhoods first-hand, interns spent each Friday exploring vocational opportunities to use the passions and gifts that God has given them to be in ministry and service.
This summer, more than 40 church and nonprofit leaders gave up Friday mornings to speak with the interns. Interns met with panels of pastors, youth directors and campus ministers; served meals to the homeless at the SoupMobile; learned about youth and family counseling at Teen Contact and the Salesmanship Club, toured the campuses of Methodist Children’sHome and Boys Ranch, and visited Perkins School of Theology. These experiences help the interns to see how their faith influences what they do with their lives.
Also at the banquet, Project Transformation unveiled a new logo and branding. The exciting new look extends to a completely redesigned website that brings the other Project Transformation chapters in Oklahoma and Tennessee under a common identity.
Click here to see photos from the banquet and find out more.