Newest Kroc Center to open in Salem

Oregon center prepares for September 26 ribbon cutting.

by Sue Schumann Warner –

After 14 months of construction—and four years of comprehensive planning—The Salvation Army’s newest Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center will open its doors in Salem, Ore., on September 26, 2009.

Then, the center’s business of “promoting wellness, encouraging excellence, building character, and inspiring faith,” will begin in earnest.

“We’re opening right on schedule and on budget,” said Major Jerry Ames, Marion/Polk County Coordinator. Ames and his wife, Executive Director Major Donna Ames, also serve as corps officers.

The $40 million facility—the West’s fourth Kroc Center—is situated on 10.5 acres in NE Salem, adjacent to an industrial park and bordered by a 22-acre city-owned nature park. While its location may seem a bit unusual, it is designed to serve a significant need. “The highest concentration of low-income families in the state live within a three-mile radius of our center,” said Major Donna Ames, “and some of the state’s lowest performing schools are within walking distance.”

Community support for the project has been strong. According to Ames, $10.2 million has been raised, exceeded the capital campaign goal of $8 million. “Even with the downturn in the economy, people have been faithful to their pledges,” she stated.

A Northwest theme
Designed with an intentional Northwest feel and incorporating elements of Oregon’s rocks, mountains, rivers, and coast in its composition and color scheme, the center offers all ages myriad opportunities for developing body and soul.

From the 300-seat chapel/theater, outdoor amphitheater and prayer garden to the 30’ climbing wall (modeled after Central Oregon’s Smith Rock); and from the two indoor pools (complete with a replica of the Yaquina Head lighthouse), and basketball courts, exercise, meeting rooms, and much more, Salem’s Kroc Center is ready to welcome the community.

Salem Citadel
Salvationists have supported the project, especially by keeping it in prayer. Recently, a group of soldiers walked through each room and prayed for what will happen there. “This is not a corps and a Kroc Center,” noted Ames. “It is a Kroc Corps Community Center. There has been a Salem Citadel Corps for many years; now it will be the Salem Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center.”

And in a curious—or perhaps divine—happenstance, its street address on Bill Frey Drive NE is 1865…which just happens to be the year William and Catherine Booth founded The Salvation Army.

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