North Texas Daily

Kaela’s Project

Kaela’s Project

August 14
14:48 2014

Christina Gaines / Contributing Writer

Boston-born Kaela Schreck was always an ambitious individual.

After graduating high school early in California, she initially attended Utah Valley University in Provo, Utah, before transferring to Collin College in Plano, Texas. She traveled to both New York City and Washington D.C for her impressive delegation skills in Collin’s Model United Nations program, while working as a server and upholding a stellar report card.

However, she considers her experience during the summer of 2013 one of her most crowning and life-changing achievements.

Schreck was no stranger to community service. She had already volunteered at the Someone Cares soup kitchen in Costa Mesa, California for about 60 hours, when a friend informed her about a possible internship opportunity with Project Transformation.

“It centers on a free camp provided for underserved elementary and middle school youth. The goal was to improve their reading and literacy skills, while allowing the parents of the impoverished family time to work or to find work,” Schreck said.

Schreck endured a rigorous interview process, a thorough background check, as well as multiple learning and personality tests prior to being selected. She was one of 90 chosen summer interns to work in the Christian non-profit’s Dallas-Fort Worth unit. Project Transformation camps are strategically placed in low-income or rural neighborhoods in order to be most accessible to the families that can benefit.

“There were people all around the world who came just for this specific internship,” Schreck said. “I met people from Mexico, Europe, England, New York, and L.A.”

Schreck was assigned to the Oak Cliff district of Dallas, where she assisted in ministry as well as instructing reading and writing fundamentals to underprivileged youth. The camp also stimulated children with arts and crafts and other extracurricular activities.

A special companion of hers came to be a 5-year-old boy named Francisco, who had formerly never been in the parameters of a classroom environment and proved at first to be a challenge. As Schreck puts it, he was “a troublemaker.”

Regardless, her proudest moment was when she was able to teach the child his A-B-C’s through traceable letters and endless practice together.

“He was so pleased with himself that it made me happy,” Schreck laughed. “His mother even came up to me at the end of the summer and thanked me, because she had seen such a positive change in Francisco’s attitude.”

Middle schoolers were also taken on a week trip to Bridgeport, Texas, where outdoor activities such as archery, hiking, and soccer were offered to campers. Schreck was the dance teacher for the Bridgeport excursion along with two recreational recitals for the children in Oak Cliff.

Schreck spent a total of 11 weeks and approximately 600 hours at Project Transformation.

“It made me realize how much I love children – their innocence is beautiful, and I feel that everyone should be able to admire and cultivate that.”

In fact, the opportunity blossomed her desire to become a child psychologist, in order to be able to further lend services to youth in the future.

Schreck has recently begun studies at her dream school, Southern Methodist University in Dallas, majoring in psychology. She encourages other college students to apply for the unique internship.

“Not only did I make lasting friendships with my peers, I’ve kept in contact with some of the children whom I was blessed to help. I miss it. It made me really appreciate what I do have and only want to give back more,” Schreck said.

One can apply to be a Project Transformation after-school or summer intern online through projecttransformation.org. Divisions are available to students in Dallas, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.

Project Transformation’s mission is to ultimately reduce poverty through keeping kids in classes, motivating them to go to college, and to one day similarly give back to their community.

“Even with parents at home, these kids need another positive role model to look up to,” Schreck said. “The program is very exclusive, but if you show a true passion for becoming a mentor, they will hire you.”

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