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Given her calling and experience, one might expect Rev. Samantha Meadors to have a strong faith. As the leader of Project Transformation Arkansas, she has something more: a plan. Sam is executive director of the statewide chapter, but its legacy of transforming lives through leadership development and community-focused programming for youth is more than twodecades strong.
Founded in 2021, Project Transformation Arkansas has served families – working independently in partnership with the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church – by offering affordable summer day camps. The mission fulfillment work is implemented from Jefferson County where Sam is the visionary. She quickly realized a critical moment and was called to action. “Coming out of COVID, the need for affordable summer day camps and childcare options for school-aged children became more apparent than ever.” She elaborates, “Our mission is to transform communities by engaging children, college-aged young adults and churches in purposeful relationships. So, for our community, this is where the need lies, and this is where we can – hopefully – have an impact.” According to Sam, the average cost per student is $1,000. “For families with more than one child, the costs can prove practically impossible,” she adds. “That’s where we try to help.”
Enrollment for Project Transformation summer day camp is open to qualifying elementary school students; the cost is $20 per student or $50 per family for an eight-week, inclusive summer program. The camp is hosted four days per week with breakfast and lunch included. “Although we are guided as a faith-based organization, it is foremost in our minds that we are creating an open and inviting atmosphere that is respectful of all beliefs and cultures in order to serve the entire community and not just the church community.” That is why, in part, Sam says literacy is a primary component of the curriculum. “Generally, there is a shift that occurs around the third-grade level, up to which point most students have been learning to read,” explains Sam. “Beyond that stage, they begin reading to learn. That is why it is so important that children develop the skills and confidence to become lifelong readers and learners.”
Since its inception, Project Transformation Arkansas has demonstrated impressive growth which Sam hopes will result in expansion to include more areas of the state, including the Capital City. She notes that volunteers play a fundamental role in the success of the program; opportunities include partnering individually with students as a reading buddy or reading aloud to groups of students. “If you are available and willing and excited about working to improve the lives of the kids in your community, we need you.”