Phoenix previews its Kroc Center

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During day two of the 2012 National Social Services and Disaster Management Conference, preview tours of the South Mountain Kroc Center featured the 147,000 square foot center on 15 acres.In South Mountain, once “the south side,” since 1967, The Salvation Army is located just five minutes away from downtown Phoenix and from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. The area began redeveloping before the recession, and continues to change today. Yet, it remains an area of need with 95 percent of children in the local school district eligible for free or reduced meals and the highest per capita rate of incarcerated parents. Four prominent gangs are present in the area, and the center itself is surrounded by graffiti-riddled auto body shops.

Majors Guy and Denise Hawk, Kroc Center administrators, arrived in South Mountain in 2004 and began working on the Kroc, a $79 million center to be dedicated May 18-20.

Majors Guy and Denise Hawk, Phoenix Kroc Center administrators.

One of few Kroc Centers that has preexisting programs, primarily volleyball, basketball and boxing. The community wanted even more gym space, so the Army scrapped plans for a competition pool and built an extra NBA regulation-size gym for a total of three. Sports programming will include instructional, recreational and club leagues.

“We have history,” Guy Hawk said. “The last basketball game in the old center was like homecoming with alumni from the last 40 years coming to play. Two days before the new center opens, we’ll play the first game on the new court.”

The Hawks said they are deliberate about bringing families together to ensure they are not functioning as a babysitter but as a family strengthener.

In a program at the school across the street, Rose Linda Elementary, the Army sets up during school drop-off and distributes coffee—”the second cup”—and information about the Kroc Center. The school is hosting a competition to see which of its classes can bring in the most books for the Kroc Center’s library. The principal, Irene Lopez, serves on the Kroc’s advisory committee.

Major Guy Hawk stands at one end of the gym with three NBA regulation-sized basketball courts.

“With the old place coming down, there was a lot of anxiety in the community over what would come,” Denise Hawk said. “We’ve made it clear that we’re not going to change; we’re just adding more.

The Hawks have a goal of reaching 1,000 members by the center’s opening in May. In its annual budget, $100,000 has been allocated for scholarships, which will be given based on need to those within a 2.5-mile radius of the center—its immediate community. A monthly membership for a family of 5 is $47.

The former center targeted youth, but the Kroc Center will include programming for children and seniors alike.

“We’re striving to make sure the mission is not lost,” Guy Hawk said. “When you walk in the door, you’ll know the essence of who we are.” The mission statement of The Salvation Army will run along the wall above the check-in point, and a screen will display Salvation Army news from around the world. A shield is painted on the roof of the building, in view of flight patterns.

The features a rock wall, a 350-seat Broadway-style theater, game and party rooms, child care center, a commercial kitchen that can produce 1,000 meals per setting, a multi purpose room, three NBA regulation basketball courts, a walking track, a boxing gym and free weights room, a family service and administrative offices, classrooms, a library, a computer lab, a health clinic, and a lazy river and giant water slide. The center is Gold LEED certified.

The site of the former corps is now the Kroc Center’s parking lot. Construction began in August 2010, coordinated by Haydon, and corps members have watched as the Kroc Center came to life. Anticipation is high for the dedication weekend this May.

Commissioners Nancy and William Roberts, Majors Guy and Denise Hawk, Commissioners Carolyn and James Knaggs, and Lt. Cols. Shawn and Joe Poscillico.

Look for full coverage of the May 18-20 dedication weekend by New Frontier.

Comments 1

  1. A blessed afternoon, Denise and Guy. I am a soldier “out of your past” from Colorado Springs!
    I know you are doing well from what I have read about you.
    I, too, am a champion for children. I just retired from teaching special education at Spring Creek Youth Correctional Facility “youth service center.”
    I will be working with the kids at our corps in the After School Program when school resumes and I have applied for a substitute teaching position at Colorado Springs Christian School.
    I am 70 years old but, like you, I will never stop championing for children until I’m promoted to glory!
    God bless you and Guy in all that you’re doing!

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