Thank you, Joan Kroc
by Robert Docter –
It’s going to take a lot more than a couple of words to express appreciation for Joan Kroc’s magnificent gift to The Salvation Army. How does one express gratitude for the expression of trust, for the attitude of confidence, for the dimension of faith, for the pleasure she took in seeing this Army of Salvation in action?
As we perceive ourselves as trusted—we must accept the challenge to ever stay the course of trustworthiness. As we perceive the level of confidence expressed by others in us, we must grow in self-confidence ourselves and actualize it in our decision-making. As we sense the great faith in us in the eyes of people like Joan Kroc—we must increase our vigor and strength and confront any challenge to human dignity that diminishes anyone.
Joan Kroc wanted us to “be all we can be.” A friend of mine said: “She has catapulted us into the 21st century.”
It’s clear she knew us—our past and our present. She saw us up close and sensed a potential that is not always clearly visible even to some of those who serve in our midst. She wanted us to understand and act on the power of that potential—to think “big” and risk failure in the cause of Christian love.
She read our history and knew that this Army has had from its inception a fighting spirit against oppression and marginalization of humans anywhere for any reason. She knew we loved sinners non-judgmentally in the manner of Christ’s love and grace. She knew we fought against any form of slavery that objectifies the human spirit and reduces its subjects to addicts or dehumanized captives. She sensed our longing for and commitment to peace. She inspired us to grow.
She loved the poor. So do we.
In many ways, this gift to the Army was also a gift to the poor. She believed the poor should have the same opportunities as the wealthy. She believed that individuals actualized their potential by confronting the fear within them and “running the race” of life with perseverance and a quest for victory. She believed this could be accomplished early with children through working toward any form of noble achievement—athletic, academic or artistic. She seemed to abhor the word “can’t” in human endeavor. She knew not every racer won the race, but she also knew that each won the prize of accomplishment, and that the only laurel of victory truly important was that sensed within the spirit of the participant running to full potential. Those without significant material goods should have the same training, the same instruction, the same kinds of opportunities to achieve that potential as those able to afford personalized training.
She was committed to peace and worked diligently to achieve it. Her endowments of two peace institutes speak to the dimensions of her passion for peace. She felt opportunities for peace could be achieved in the world as people came to know one another. She also saw the need for internal peace obtained through linking the human spirit with the spirit of God.
She saw in the Army a commitment to “holistic ministry”—a commitment to the complete person in all dimensions of life—physical, social, mental, emotional and spiritual. She recognized that these are not separate, isolated, discrete entities within us—that parceling them out individually to separate societal institutions only meant that they would need to be reassembled by someone at a later time. She knew, as do we, that these factors are all integrated within us. They are linked, and she saw in the Army’s Ray and Joan Kroc Community Center the vehicle by which this integration could take place. It happens through the power of Christ’s love expressed through human relationships, through encouragement, through organization, and through facilities that make it possible.
She gave us the facilities and the opportunity to touch human lives. We thank her by delivering her dream.