Phoenix South Mountain Kroc Center
A place to create dreams in South Phoenix
By Christin Davis
The Western Territory dedicated its sixth of seven Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Centers May 18-20—the Phoenix South Mountain Kroc Center—a $79 million, 147,000-square-foot facility spanning 15 acres in South Phoenix, including the largest indoor aquatics center in Arizona.
“This is a point of pride for the entire city of Phoenix and the state of Arizona,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said at the public dedication. “It’s the best facility of its kind in the state.”
Over 800 people from the community attended the dedication, conducted by Chief Secretary Colonel Dave Hudson in the middle of the Kroc Center’s three side-by-side NBA-regulation gymnasiums. City and state leaders Congressman Ed Pastor, Senator Leah Landrum-Taylor and Mayor Greg Stanton also participated.
For Landrum-Taylor, the dedication had personal significance. “The Salvation Army is truly an anchor in this community,” said Landrum-Taylor, who said she experienced her first sense of independence when she went to Camp O’Wood with the Broadway Youth and Family Center. “The impact on me was the spirit, the bond with other individuals. Now we have this Kroc Center, and I’ll be a part of it…my family will be a part of it.”
The Kroc Center, like the other 26 in the U.S., are built around four pillars—education, fine arts, spiritual, and recreation. But in focus groups in South Phoenix, National Advisory Board and Phoenix Advisory Board member Marlene Klotz-Collins, said a fifth need for health care was clear. “Here, in our wellness clinic families can have health screenings like blood pressure, immunizations, and receive triage during sports.”
At a private luncheon for Kroc Center donors, Joan Kroc’s granddaughter Amanda Latimer represented the family. “My grandma would be so proud,” Latimer said. “I can feel her spirit here.”
Spirit filled the Kroc Center in a community fair with over 4,000 people that included carnival games, a row of bounce castles and mazes, a dance party with Radio Disney, autographs and photos with Disney Channel actor Roshon Fegan, hot dogs, sno-kones, cotton candy, and tours of the Kroc Center. By the end of the day, 1,500 memberships were sold.
That evening, the Territorial Youth Chorus, South Mountain High School Contemporary Ensemble, and Dr. Jesse McGuire performed. McGuire, a trumpeter famous for his rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” and graduate of Freedom Bible College and Seminar, executed the number and spoke on the parable of the Good Samaritan, using terms relating to South Phoenix.
“Poverty is about more than a lack of belongings or food; it is needing someone to reach out and show mercy, restore dignity,” McGuire said. “When I look at The Salvation Army and all that it is and does, I am reminded of the Good Samaritan. The Salvation Army feels compassion, and sooths wounds.
“There may be some people we can’t save, fix or help,” he said, “but there’s nobody in this community that we can’t love.”
In the first Sunday worship service in the Kroc Corps, Southwest Divisional Commander Lt. Col. Joe Posillico and Divisional Youth and Candidates’ Secretary and Associate Secretary Lt. Anthony and Lisa Barnes enrolled 15 senior soldiers and eight junior soldiers.
Territorial Commander Commissioner James Knaggs spoke from 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 on sowing seeds. “Joan Kroc figured this out; part of her responsibility, her joy, in life was to plant seeds generously,” he said. “She knew that if she were to give generously, it would reap generously.”
Knaggs explained that the passage is about more than seeds on the ground, but rather who we are and what we are meant to be: righteous.
“Would you like to please God today?” he asked. “Then give generously. Living generously speaks to the gospel of Christ, the face of God.”
Knaggs invited members of the corps to the stage and prayed a dedicatory prayer over the congregation.
“This is not a show place, but an honor place for God,” Major Guy Hawk, Kroc Center administrator with his wife, Major Denise Hawk, said in closing. “Pray that we always keep the mission here.”