Salem celebrates its Kroc Center

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Kroc Corps Community Center breaks ground during weeklong festivities.

by Patricia Cuff-Smith –

Junior Soldiers Kristian Shaw and Ricky Santiago with Majors Jerry and Donna Ames and Advisory Board Chairperson Steve Cotton

In Salem, Oregon, Mayor Janet Taylor officially declared August 27, 2007 “The Salvation Army Kroc Center Groundbreaking Day,” thus commencing a weeklong celebration for a community who believed in a dream and took action to make it a reality. After three years of community collaboration and support, ground was broken for the new center.

Majors Jerry and Donna Ames received the mayor’s proclamation at Salem’s weekly city council meeting. They are corps officers at the Salem Citadel Corps, and Major Jerry Ames is coordinator for Marion and Polk Counties.

Over 75 people attended a reception honoring major donors at the Grand Ball Room, sponsored by local businessman Dick Withnell and featuring delicacies from the Wild Pear and music from members of the youth band. The attendees were first to view the DVD of the new Kroc Center, and they received words of encouragement from Taylor and other dignitaries, including Gerry Frank. As a token of thanks, The Salvation Army presented customized canvas artwork with the inscription, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed you can say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20).

On August 29 the people of Salem gathered on the 10.65-acre location of The Salvation Army Salem Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center for the largest groundbreaking event in the city’s recent history. Over 675 local and statewide residents enjoyed a fully sponsored community celebration with free food, big band and Salvation Army music, free t-shirts, and speakers including Master of Ceremonies Gerry Frank, Governor Ted Kulongoski, Mayor Taylor, Representative Darlene Hooley, Betty Komp, Lt. Colonel Don McDougald, Major Gary Kyle, Majors Ames and Steve Cotton. The governor stated, “Today is about hope and opportunity for the children and families in this community.” The celebration attracted media from throughout the state and officials from numerous corporations including McDonald’s restaurants.

Withnell, campaign chairman, commented, “For some of us who have trouble with miracles, we are experiencing one today.”

In Salem, the mission of The Salvation Army is alive and well and enhanced through the gift of the Kroc estate.

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