By Meredith Diers
In June, University Park United Methodist Church pastor Matt Gaston partnered with Project Transformation, a nonprofit that engages young adults with community needs, with the goal of raising $100,000 by biking 1,000 miles.
Gaston started his 1,000-mile route at SMU, rode to Project Transformation offices in Oklahoma City, Okla., and then in Nashville, Tenn.
The $45,000 raised through the bike ride will be used to construct Project Transformation’s new national and local headquarters at UPUMC.
“University Park UMC is very excited to welcome Project Transformation to our family,” said Rachel Baughman, UPUMC executive pastor. “We have been in a partnership with them for several years, and we are honored to take this next step with them.”
In 1998, UPUMC was one of the founding churches of Project Transformation under the United Methodist Church. Today, PT serves more than 2,000 elementary, middle, and high school students at seven free after-school programs, and more than 1,000 students at 10 free summer camp locations.
PT focuses on educational curriculum, with a one-on-one leader-to-student ratio in all programs. Students are exposed to one-hour reading sessions everyday.
“Where we hang our hat is our literacy program,” said Kristin Kelley, head of development at Project Transformation.
UPUMC youth group members support PT as leaders in the summer and after school.
In addition to UPUMC youth, the organization employs about 100 members of PT Corps — young adults who are interested in addressing community needs through a church-initiated program. As a grant recipient of AmeriCorps, PT has the resources to compensate mentors.
“We believe our college-aged young adults make such a great impact on our students over time,” Kelley said.