It’s 8 am on Monday morning, our team’s first day at Centenary United Methodist for programming. Most of us did not get enough sleep due to first day jitters. The start of the day did not go as planned at first. We arrived at the church to find that we were locked out and the alarm system was set off. At times, I felt like I was going to burst from the anticipation of meeting the kids. The community was ready to start camp as well with families arriving up to an hour early!
Our team and the volunteers began to see the impact of Project Transformation from the start. Project Transformation’s discipline policy includes a set of rules known as the "Five Be’s." Be a Leader. Be a Learner. Be a Listener. Be a Friend. Be Responsible. Though these rules were set for the kids to learn, I saw every team member embody them. Adara took initiative every minute of every day to meet the needs of Young Artists, always with a smile on her face . Tanner was our leader, friend, and listener when we felt overwhelmed, frustrated, or confused. He provided laughter and encouragement whenever the environment was tense. Jasmine brought fresh ideas for classroom management through "air fives" and the energy we needed for Harambe. Cameisha was a listener and friend not only to me but to every volunteer that came to help in the reading program. Jakeno embraced his responsibility and the impact he had on the kids from his own neighborhood. Shyquel displayed grace and humility to every child of her group, even when they did not listen. Regan lead her Red Rockets with a listening ear and showed them the importance of how they each could be individual leaders within the group.
We were all learners in some sort of way. We learned to find our "teacher voice" and to adapt our skills to meet the needs of our community. One big way we were learners is by implementing a new buddy system with our kids. To aid in developing our older kids into responsible leaders, we pair an older kid with a younger kid. The younger kid has someone to look up to while the older kid gains a sense of responsibility. They are able to be a friend, be responsible, and be a leader. Our team was beginning to form our unique community at Centenary United Methodist.
Project Transformation is bringing people from all different backgrounds with diverse gifts to learn how to serve and develop children to their best potential. Some volunteers come from the suburbs with teaching experience. Some come from the city who had experience with the kids prior to Project Transformation. Our team embodies diversity coming from the inner city, the suburbs, other states, different majors, different upbringings, and different strengths. Already I have been encouraged by the conversations I have had with each of my fellow interns, volunteers, and church members. We are learning what it means for the children to become first and how Project Transformation is at work for the Kingdom of God. Love is at the core of every interaction. Grace, patience, and laughter is an everyday necessity. Despite our differences and the challenges of the first week of programming, our team continues to celebrate our diversity, cultivate leadership, learn how to serve our community, and how developing literacy empowers the kids to be who they were created to be.
Rachel Younger is a member of Peace Tree's Loeb St. House Group and she also assists with worship at our Sunday morning Large Group gatherings. Last summer, Rachel served as an intern with Project Transformation following her graduation from Union University. This post originally appeared on the Project Transformation Tennessee blog on June 22, 2016 and is republished with Rachel's permission. Contact us today to learn more about Project Transformation and how you can attend a volunteer training meeting on May 1 at our mother church.
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