Flagship Kroc Center celebrates seven years
San Diego center opened on June 19, 2002.
by Maria Todaro –
The flagship Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center, built in San Diego, Calif., with Joan Kroc’s $94 million donation and priceless vision, celebrated seven years of operation, with a member appreciation event and live television news coverage on June 19, 2009.
It was June 19, 2002 that the 12.4-acre San Diego community center opened with a dedication ceremony including Joan Kroc, Fred Rogers of the beloved Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood television show, and hundreds of local students as spectators.
Since that day, more than 6.3 million people have walked through the doorways to opportunity that exist on the state-of the art campus—from the indoor skatepark, to the gymnasium, to the aquatics center, to the ice arena, and on down to the education center and theatre.
Countless lives have been touched through the boundless fitness, educational and arts opportunities, and through relationships built between children, adults and seniors of all ethnic, religious and economic backgrounds.
Captain John Van Cleef, the San Diego Kroc Center administrator, referenced these relationships in a recent news article in the Memphis, Tenn., Daily News, saying the Kroc Center has fostered “communities within the community.”
It’s a safe-haven, he said, “the place where cultures and economy and gender and social groups mix into one big whole. It’s phenomenal.”
Aside from the intangible impact, the San Diego Kroc Center has also made a quantifiable impact on the surrounding community, as shown in a recent study done by the San Diego Association of Governments.
“There’s the creation of new jobs; there’s the favorable impact on the new housing market; there’s the economic impact in terms of businesses being rented; there’s the additional revenue in and around the community,” Van Cleef said, referring to the study.
With Mrs. Kroc’s estate gift of $1.5 billion to The Salvation Army for the establishment of Kroc Centers across the country, this vision can be spread far and wide.
“At the dedication of the center, Mrs. Kroc said that in the next tens and twenties of years, she hoped that thousands and hundreds of thousands of kids are able to enjoy this center,” Van Cleef said.
“It’s already 6.3 million people in seven years. Multiply that by 25 of these centers that are going to be opening throughout the country. She really took her heart and planted it in the future,” he said.