Kroc Starts ‘Heart’ Beating
‘Heart of the City’ Project Breaks Ground; Treasure Chest Opened
by Victor Pinzon –
A cheering crowd of 600 greeted Mrs. Joan B. Kroc recently as she took the wheel of a bulldozer to mark the beginning of construction for The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Community Center in San Diego.
With help from Commissioner David Edwards, territorial commander, and Major Donald Bell, Sierra del Mar divisional commander, Kroc “unearthed” a treasure chest containing maps designed to guide those in attendance through a tour of the project’s 175,000 foot floor plan. At each stop, attendees were briefed on the many new features of the new community center by Rolando Park Elementary School children. Hundreds of school children wearing bright yellow hard hats added to the spirit of the groundbreaking celebration.
“Children are our greatest treasure,” declared Kroc, whose philanthropic efforts have enriched the lives of millions of children in America and around the world. “Working together as a united community, we must dedicate ourselves to helping this new generation of young people and their families achieve the highest goals possible.”
Edwards praised Kroc for her generosity and for the great trust she has placed in The Salvation Army in providing the landmark $80 million gift that will make the new center possible. “We shall do everything in our power to prove worthy of the trust Mrs. Kroc has placed in The Salvation Army,” he told the enthusiastic crowd.
Named for Kroc and her late husband, Ray, The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Community Center will offer a state-of-the-art educational building, resource library, performing arts center, gymnasium, Olympic size swimming pool, ice skating rink, multi-purpose sports field, skateboarding park and corps community center.
Children Are Our Greatest Treasure
While the center won’t be completed until January 2002, the project is already touching the lives of young people. Evan Schiengross, 17, a student at Helix High School, was recognized for his work as a founding member of the Ray and Joan Kroc Community Center Youth Advisory Committee. Evan conducted a petition campaign that produced 1,600 signatures, convincing the adult leadership to include a skateboard park in the project’s planning.
Speaking before the crowd, he reflected on a dream come true. “I am grateful to The Salvation Army and Mrs. Kroc for listening to my idea and giving young people a meaningful voice in the planning of the new center which will be a great asset to our community,” he said.
Helix High School Highlanders Band and the La Mesa Middle School Band performed for the appreciative crowd. Cornerstone, a youth vocal group from the El Cajon Corps, performed stirring Gospel songs.