West hosts first Kroc Center Conference

by Cindy Foley, Major

The San Diego Kroc Center was bursting at the seams in December 2010, as officers and staff gathered for the first national Kroc Center Conference. Under the banner of “Pursuing Potential,” 110 delegates from all four U.S. territories participated in sessions designed to explore the mission of Kroc Center ministry and practices that will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the programs that are offered.

Nationally acclaimed presenters provided both keynote presentations and workshops in subjects ranging from staff training and hospitality programs to budget analysis and trends in athletic programming. The presenters included Lauren Livingston, president of Sports Management Group; Ken Ballard and Jeff King, presidents of Ballard*King Associates; Steve Blackburn, vice-president of BRS Architecture; and Michelle Noyes, executive vice-president of Summit Marketing. Other presenters included Ruby Newell-Legner, president of Ruby Speaks! and staff trainer for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C.; and Dr. Richard Dangel, CEO of Praesidium, the leading provider of training and research geared to preventing the abuse of children and vulnerable adults in the U.S. and around the world.

Kroc Center officers and staff shared knowledge in providing programming to meet the spiritual, physical and social needs of their respective communities. Sessions in day camp ministry, member-based fundraising campaigns, small budget/smaller staff marketing plans, and fiscal management procedures represent offerings that provided important “real time” lessons from multiple Kroc Center sites.

Ten facilities shared best practices for excellence. Dr. Kenneth Dye, director of bands at Notre Dame University, and Major David Harvey, St. Joseph County Kroc Center, explained how the BandLink partnership at the St. Joseph County Kroc Center in South Bend, Ind., is reaching kids with music lessons even before their facility is open. Their plan encourages universities across the country to partner with The Salvation Army to enlist marching band students as volunteer music teachers at Army facilities.

Other highlighted programs included the Youth Theater and Family Arts programs at San Diego Kroc Center, the Teen Outreach Program at Coeur d’Alene Kroc Center, the basketball leagues in Dayton, Ohio, and the school partnership programs at the Chicago Kroc Center.

Delegates pose for a photo on the staircase of the San Diego Kroc Center (Photo by Lisa Van Cleef).

“Burgers and baseballs”
Hosted by the Western Territory, the Kroc Center Conference began with a welcome from Colonel William Harfoot, chief secretary, and an inspiring keynote address from the Territorial Commander, Commissioner James Knaggs, who encouraged delegates to see the importance of community center ministry and to imagine what God’s purpose might have been through the sales of “burgers and baseballs” that allowed Joan Kroc to provide $1.8 billion dollars to build and endow Kroc Center facilities across the U.S. Her estate, funded mainly on assets garnered through the success of the McDonald’s Corporation and the San Diego Padres baseball team, allows the Army to build and operate state-of-the-art facilities for recreation, education, arts, and spiritual programming. With only 11 of the expected 27 facilities in operation, the Kroc Centers in the U.S. will serve over 10 million people this year.

Major George Rocheleau, a delegate, said the conference “was both fantastic and historic! Meeting Kroc people from across the country—sharing ideas with them—was incredible.”

Harfoot added his desire to see the Western Territory continue to host a conference for both Kroc Centers and community centers in the years to come. “We want our officers and soldiers to have a renewed vision for the limitless possibilities of community center ministry.”

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