Kroc Center success stories
Inside the Kroc Center’s “doorway to opportunity,” life-changing events await. Here, Major Cindy Foley shares some “Kroc Tales”—stories of individuals whose lives have been enriched through their involvement with San Diego’s Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center.
“John” is a 3rd grader who has always had trouble focusing in school, falling more behind each year. Because of the Kroc Center’s Artist in Residence program, John has had access to art instruction and quality art supplies for the first time. Seeing a positive change in his approach to learning and ability to focus, his teacher congratulated him on his efforts. John responded that he “learns through his art.” He continues to show progress in his schoolwork, while enjoying the free after-school fine art classes.
Peggy is a single mother dedicated to home schooling her five children who have specialized educational needs. Access to the Kroc Center library and other recreational services allows Peggy to meet her children’s requirements. Without comprehensive services in one location, she would not be able to give them a high quality education.
Brett’s family was one of the first to join the Kroc Center as a family member. His mother, Wendy, has back problems and needs access to a warm-water therapy pool for physical therapy. While Wendy used the pool, Brett discovered the center’s other venues. In December 2002 he ice skated for the first time, enjoyed it, and enrolled in the center’s classes. By June 2003, after only six months of instruction, Brett was Western Regional Champion in Level Seven of recreational skaters.
Brett had no idea he had this incredible talent—a God-given gift—within him for figure skating. He only discovered this because The Salvation Army and Joan Kroc provided an ice arena in his neighborhood where he could try something new.
Since then, Brett has competed regionally and nationally. In November 2005 he was the Southwest Regional Champion in the 15-16-year-old open skating division. He skates at the Kroc Center over 25 hours per week and is a volunteer instructor for the center’s Special Olympics figure skating program. He has a personal faith in Jesus Christ and serves God through his skating opportunities and other acts of service in the neighborhood.
“Keilani,” a hearing-disabled Chinese “throw-away” baby from Peking, was adopted by a hearing-disabled single school teacher who lives minutes from the Kroc Center. After performing in two of the center’s children’s theatre shows, she was cast as Cindy Lou Who in a professional production of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
Keilani did not come to the Kroc Center with a dream to be an actress. Her adoptive mother put her in the Kroc Kids program because Keilani “had a lot of energy that needed to put to a good use.”
Keilani and Brett are examples of children who discover their gifts and abilities when given opportunity and an environment to develop their potential.
In a more general sense, the biggest Kroc Center success is that San Diego, and now the entire U.S., have an opportunity to see The Salvation Army in a new light. Although nearly every program offered at the center can be found somewhere in the country at a local Army unit, the impact of having a larger campus with multiple programs draws the attention of families, community partners, and donors who have not previously had a personal experience with The Salvation Army.