Life Transformation Ministry After School Program

Published 9:58 pm Monday, June 3, 2024

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Eddye Coley, Executive Director of Life Transformation, a 501c3, talked about the organization’s program REACH summer camp. “It was born out of the church, but it’s not for the church. It’s for the community.”

Coley told how the vision of pastor Larry B Sims materialized in the first camp in 2003. She mentioned that they currently have three lead teachers, five para pros, as well as a director. Coley talked about the duration of the educational program. ”It’s normally seven weeks, but this year it will be six weeks, because the teachers have to go back to school a week earlier.”

Coley stated that the program is currently slated to run from June 3 to July 12. She also talked about how they had switched locations. “During COVID, about two and a half years, we were unable to have camp, and during that time, a lot of renovations took place at the church, we added on a sanctuary and added some classrooms and a lot of things changed.” The program is currently housed in Fresh Start Academy.

Coley detailed the program. “We have a very structured curriculum, focusing on math, English, reading, and science.” She also talked about the program provided other opportunities for students. “We have field trips. So those weeks that they have the academics, the field trip is geared towards whatever the focus is for that week.”

She mentioned they had gone to the Coca-Cola Space Science Center last year. The science museum in Cartersville, Tellus, is on the docket for this year, along with several other venues. “During the week of Juneteenth, we will be going to Montgomery to the slave Museum and some other entities, venues there in Montgomery. We go to Fort Benning, and the kids just love that. They get to see the Rangers in action, graduation, and the show, the demonstration.”

Coley mentioned that this year they would be enrolling 55 students. She mentioned transportation was a limiting factor. “We no longer have a van, so we actually use the charter bus and it’s a 55 or 57 passenger bus, so we have basically one chaperone for every 10 kids.”

Aside from an $100 enrollment fee, the program is free to parents who can’t afford it due to sponsors. Last year’s sponsorship cost was $600, but the cut in the program’s duration from seven weeks to six resulted in a cost of only $520 per child.

Coley talked about how they had also had to cut back out of town trips. However, plenty of local opportunities for students to connect with their community remain, including trips to the library, socializing with senior citizens, and going to the Water Plant.

Coley talked about how they were dedicated to continuing education over the summer, and told how the parents appreciated the program. “They bombard us. They know there’s a need and it gives them peace of mind.”

She mentioned that Citizens Bank has been a sponsor since the inception, and that last year OneSumter had given, as well as sororities.

Program Director Sarinda Woodson also gave an interview. “I serve as the camp director for Reach summer camp, and I have actually been in that capacity since about 2009.”

She talked about how it was her job to oversee the operation of the Camp. “Overseeing the camp counselors that we have, our newly developed counselors in training, and just kind of [planning] out the schedule throughout the day.” Woodson talked about how her children’s experience in the camp and her love of teaching encouraged her to take on the role.

Woodson talked about how the camp gave them the flexibility to engage students in service projects, and talked about a new program they had started called boy power and girl power. “Power stands for proving our worth while earning respect, and so it’s kind of like a mentor type thing that we’re trying to work out.”

She talked about what made the camp most meaningful to her. “The meaningful part of it is just to see kids that we’ve had in the camp actually go on and do a lot of great things.”

Woodson talked about a graduating senior who recalled her time at the camp. “I knew her all the way through seventh grade until she graduated as a senior, so to me that was meaningful to know that she came through the camp, and she still remembered that. She remembered that experience.”

Those wishing to donate can mail checks to 900 Adderton St. payable to Reach Summer Camp.