Salvation Army USA announced the winning cities for its multi-million-dollar, state-of the art Kroc Community Centers in the eastern territory last week.
Five east coast cities were chosen by the Salvation Army USA Eastern Territory through a highly selective two-and-a-half year process to proceed to the design and construction phase, announced the Christian ministry last Wednesday.
“The centers will be open to whosoever but our goal is to show, express, and model for them the love of God,” said Major Hugh Steele, who has been overseeing the process, in an interview Thursday, “and allow them to grow in faith, although it is not something that is demanded of them, but is a part of our motive.”
Two eastern territory centers are expected to break ground this summer to early fall, informed Steele.
Kroc Community Centers in the eastern territory, which will be operated and staffed by the Salvation Army, will be built in Boston, Mass.; Dayton, Ohio; Philadelphia, Penn.; Massena, N.Y.; and Staten Island, N.Y.
Each of the centers will consist of programs and facilities unique to the needs of the local community. The centers offer facilities such as aquatic centers, basketball courts, and day care centers as well as services such as childhood education.
The community centers were made possible by Joan Kroc, the widow of McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc. Kroc’s gift of more than $1.5 billion for the building of Kroc Centers is one of the largest estate gifts made by an individual in the history of charitable giving.
Her gift, announced in January 2004, is divided equally among the four Salvation Army geographic regions – the Central, Eastern, Southern and Western Territories – for the sole purpose of building the centers.
The first Kroc Community Center was opened in San Diego in June 2002 with a separate $87-million gift. Millions of local community members have since benefited from its climbing walls, ice arena, aquatic center, gymnasium, performing arts complex, indoor skate park, family enrichment center, Salvation Army church, day care center, and other services.
In total, 15 Kroc Community Centers nationwide have been granted approval thus far, with around 25-30 community centers to be built in total. The Salvation Army is about halfway through the process of identifying and approving funds for all of its Kroc Center sites across the country.
Kroc’s gift only pays for the planning and development of the centers and partially for operations of the centers. Additional fundraising is required of the communities to be self-sustainable.
The Salvation Army is a Christian ministry assisting nearly 33 million Americans since 1865. It provides social services ranging from food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disable, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless and other services for underprivileged children.