I was raised Italian catholic but really came into a personal relationship with Jesus through Young Life my sophomore year in high school. Those were the days when you went to your friends house and there was a youth group with a guy playing guitar and reading stories from the bible. The youth pastors name was Mike and he brought me the gospel and it was an irresistible pull on my heart. I walked away from the Lord during my college years and into early marriage and career. It wasn’t until I was 30 with young children that I came back to the Lord. I went to an Valentines evening dinner sponsored by CBMC, Connecting Business men to Christ. There was a husband and wife speaker there that told their marriage story and they came to know Jesus. Once again, I so resonated with the message and the couple that spoke. Jesus was in the room that night calling to me. It was a ‘come as you are’ call and I rededicated my life to Christ that night. I told my husband in the van on the way home that I needed Jesus in my life and I thought that this was what our marriage was missing. It really shocked him. But several months later, he came to Christ as well. But that’s my came to Christ as my savior story. When he became Lord of my life was after a life threatening accident of my then 3 year old son. He was life flighted to a hospital 75 miles from our home and we had to take turns driving down to the hospital to be with him while he was in Ped-ICU and caring for our other 2 preschool children at home. I lived in such fear and anxiety that I would lose our son and God made himself known in miraculous ways. (ask me about the ham in the backyard story) After that experience, I looked deep inside myself for the obstacles that were keeping me in fear and not living all out for the Lord.

I was homeschooling for 16 years and our youngest was in her senior year about to graduate. I was the director of a homeschool coop group, New Covenant Tutorital (NCT) a , 7-12th grade program and I knew I wanted to continue working with youth but not in an educational setting. In my worklife/career prior to homeschooling, I had a good bit of experience working with at risk youth in under resourced areas in Washington DC, Baltimore Md area. So I began looking for non-profits that served children in Nashville and came upon Preston Taylor Ministries.  I started as a part time site director while at the same time finishing out my last year as director of NCT. I had 20 students K-4th there. At the time, I was one of the 4 sites PTM was running. Since then, I’ve been the education director, summer program director and helped launch the startup of our partnerships at St Luke Community House and the McGruder Center. And I am now the Director of Connectedness for all K-5 programming. (reference Darmouth study Hardwired to Connect)

 Preston Taylor Ministries is an afterschool program for under resourced youth in the Preston Taylor neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods. We focus on 3 areas, Joy filled friendships, God inspired dreams and a love for learning. We do that primarily through our mentoring programs, afterschool programs, weekly fieldtrips  and sports teams. We own one building, the Wilson Center which was donated to PTM by Hal Wilson a prominent businessman at had a heart for this neighborhood and wanted to see PTM thrive. But every other site we run is through partnerships with the existing footprint in the neighborhood, so churches, rec centers, family resources centers, etc. We are a busing ministry, so we pick students up from school, bring them to a PTM afterschool program and then bus them home. While they are with us, they interact with caring adult mentors, get a nutritious snack, have faithful volunteers help them with homework, spend time with a certified reading teacher and spend time in the gospel. And we aren’t just afterschool. We try very hard to create many different entry points into our programs so that caring adults that want to make a difference in a childs life can come alongisde and interact with students, either one on one or in group settings almost anytime of the workday or weekend.

         For instance, mentoring programs, we have Breakfast n Bible study were caring adults can have a mentoring relationship with a student at 6:45 AM. Our lunch buddy program allows working adults that get a lunch break to meet once a week with a student in their elementary school cafeteria for 30 minutes once a week. The SnackChat35 program meets on Wednesday from 1:30 – 2:05 where you meet one on one with a middle schooler to have a snack and chat about their week. Dinner and Devo is an evening program where mentors meet with a high schooler for dinner, games and a time of devotion and checking in. And then on top of that there are 10 different afterschool programs k-4, just 5th and 5-8th that are always looking for a volunteer that wants to come once a week for 2 hours and hang out with kids, help with homework, play gaga ball or 4 square , enjoy kids in a group setting. They can’t commit to just one student but want to be involved at one site where they are known by lots of kids.
Christmas time is special at PTM as we have alot of different activities going on. There is Christmas Wrapping parties Dec 16, 17 and 18 where our different sites are running little stores for students to “shop” for their families and siblings. We are always looking for volunteers to help be a “personal shopper” or wrapper. Or are looking for a place to donate small items that students can “shop” for…..coffee mugs, scarfs, gloves, wallets, body lotion….things that kids can gift wrap and give to mom, dad or auntie
We also have our Nativity Store on Dec 14th where our parents come and shop for their children and we need folks to sponsor a child and purchase a coat, shirt, pants, shoes and a toy.
We also have Santa’s Workshop on Dec 20th. We take one of our gyms and decorate like the North Pole. We do crafts, play games, decorate cookies, and take pictures with Santa. . Its a free event for our families but we need volunteers. This is a great event for families that have kids home from college or high schoolers that are done with midterms and they’d like to volunteer as a family to help us run this event.
You can go to our website at www.prestontaylorministries.org OR email Bethany@prestontaylorministries.org and let her know you’d like to receive the signup genius with all these activities layed out and that will give folks a chance to talk with their families or look at their schedules and see what works.

Preston Taylor Ministries

Wilson Center
4014 Indiana Ave
Mail: PO BOX 90442


Lisa Lentz

Director of Connectedness, K5, Preston Taylor Ministries