Salem Kroc Center is TEAM effort

Community support generates broad-based planning.


The Salvation Army Kroc project in Salem has truly encapsulated the phrase “Together Everyone Achieves More” (TEAM) and the result is a gift from Joan Kroc’s estate of over $50 million to build and partially endow a Salem Citadel Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center of the Mid-Willamette Valley.

Planning for the Kroc Center has been one of the most spirited, cooperative and enthusiastic, broad-based planning efforts ever conducted in our area. Hundreds of individuals served on boards, committees, and task forces. In addition, 26 community forums were facilitated with over 800 in total attendance.

“It quickly became evident upon our arrival in Salem that the people of our community and surrounding areas have embraced this project passionately and anticipate the incredible opportunities it will bring,” said Major Jerry Ames, Marion/Polk county coordinator. “I am thankful for the work that Majors Brian and Leticia Saunders contributed to this project during their time in Salem.”

People like Jimmy, an 8-year-old who dreams of a “brighter tomorrow” and longs for a place to feel safe and “be a kid,” have been the heartbeat of The Salvation Army Kroc project. He loves to swim but the only public pool, built in 1933, is miles away from his Northgate neighborhood (the future site of the Kroc Center) where Jimmy and 83 percent of his neighbors live in poverty.

I told Jimmy and his friends that they will have the greatest aquatic center in the Northwest in their backyard, and explained that there will be a leisure pool with slides, a lazy river, outdoor splash area, competition pool, gymnasiums, fitness area, chapel/performing arts theater, classrooms, childcare and kitchen and a large community room.

Jimmy thought this center was very different from The Salvation Army shelter he used to live in…but is it? Perhaps…but at its core the Army’s mission will continue to serve those in need, coupled with the Kroc vision of “giving children an opportunity to excel.”

While our community has great needs we have people with huge hearts…from Mayor Janet Taylor’s “Mayor’s Challenge” raising close to $300,000 to civic leader Gerry Franks’ $1 million donation to add fun and exciting features to the aquatic center. To date, citizens have made commitments reaching almost half of our fundraising goal of $8 million to help operate the center in perpetuity.

As we enter the next phase of development we boldly go forth claiming the words of Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” The Kroc Center will change a neighborhood of destitution, depravity, and despair into one of reclamation, revitalization and renewal!

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