Everyone knows about the issues that plague Chicago. We know about crime, murders and violence, and the challenges of the public and charter school system. We know Chicago has unpredictable weather, and we know of our city’s longstanding sports team rivalries. I mean, when you think of Chicago, you can think of any number of negative things ranging from potholes to pothead hoodlums; and on a good day, you may even think about our beautiful lakefront and our stunning Magnificent Mile. But what many don’t think about is the fact that there is a$62 million community center on the South Side of Chicago, smack dab in the middle of the West Pullman neighborhood, an area that averages five or more violent crimes daily. What is this facility? It is the Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center.
Having a 160,000-square-foot facility in Chicago that now sits on 33 acres of previously vacant land complete with a water park,competition and lap pools; a state-of-the-art fitness facility, four Chicago Bulls basketball style courts, a golf academy, football/soccer field, tots and teens play areas,along with an amazing church run by the Salvation Army–now THIS should be headline news.
This is a reason to celebrate!
Through the generous donation of Joan Kroc, wife to McDonald’s business mastermind Ray Kroc, there are now 27 Kroc Centers around the country, with Kroc Chicago hailing as the largest of them all.
Joan Kroc had a clear vision: build state-of-the-art facilities in underserved communities throughout the nation with the highest quality recreational and arts facilities to ensure that all children have equal opportunities to build their natural gifts and talents.
I am awed by her generosity, and the impact this has had on me personally.
For starters, Saturday is a special day for me for many reasons, because not only do I work at the Kroc Center as a fitness instructor, every week my family and I participate in church activities and events because we actually became full-fledged Soldiers of the Salvation Army.
Plus, there are many things that make the Kroc Center a unique and wonderful place to work, with my main point of gratitude coming from the fact that at the end of every class we form a circle and pray for one another. Just today I had someone take my class who is visiting from St. Lucia, who asked for prayer as she worked to train for the 2016 Olympics and complete her book on the power of emancipation for today’s African American. This young lady couldn’t have been 21yrs. old, but she was spiritually, emotionally, and academically charged with passion and a love for humanity, her culture, and the Lord. There would have been no opportunity for me to learn this had I been teaching at a neighboring fitness facility chain because all you are expected to do there is teach your classes and then leave. The Kroc is different because prayer gives us the time and space to peer into each other’s souls. I just love that!
Another unique aspect about working for the Kroc Center is that because it is run by the Salvation Army, staff meetings and events are begun with prayer by the Center’s leaders, who have official Army rank and titles–just like the “real” Army. Prior to my involvement at the Kroc Center as a fitness teacher, I didn’t know anything about the Salvation Army. I didn’t know that they are an international evangelical movement. I didn’t know they are in 126 countries. And I didn’t know of their impact on the world through missions and outreach designed to spread the love of Christ. I just thought they were the place to donate old couches, clothes, and books. Now, I find myself blown away by all that I have become a part of. My church family expands the globe.
Having the Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Center on the South Side of Chicago is cause to celebrate. We all believe it’s going to take something magnanimous to be a powerful force against all the negative forces in Chicago. As a law of science teaches us, for every action there is an equal and opposing reaction, and the Kroc Center is the resounding force to counter so much negativity. There, families can come together in a fun and safe place and exercise, play, learn, and love on each other. Children gain a spiritual component to their activities by learning at a young age that God’s love is the only driving force that drives out hatred. Women can come to the fitness center without feeling like they are at the gym’s “meat market” by being gawked at and ogled. And you can be fed literally and figuratively through freshly prepared salads and meals, as well as spiritually so through weekly bible studies and weekly worship services. To me, it is an example of heaven on earth.
Truly, Kroc Center Chicago is a gem to our city and the 2yr. anniversary celebration worthy of praise.
Saturday, June 14th, from 10-3PM, Kroc Center Chicago will celebrate their two-year anniversary event. As the popular church expression says, “The doors of the church are open. Won’t you join us?”
For more information about the Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Center Chicago and the anniversary celebration event, visit our website at http://www.kroccenterchicago.com/.
About Me: I’m a wife and mom of six daughters whose ages range from Pre-K to college grad. I love God, teaching fitness classes, and blogging about all the fascinating things I learn and discovery on this journey called life. In the gym, I help people with outer physical transformations, but outside of the gym I help people with inner transformations through the power of the Project 10 Challenge which helps people focus, and accomplish losing 10lbs (or building 10lbs) at a time. For more information about the Challenge, you can visit my website.
Tags: bible study, celebration, Chicago, Chicago Bulls basketball courts, church, competition pool, family, fitness, Kroc Center Chicago, Olympics, Ray and Joan Kroc, swimming pools, The Salvation Army, two-year anniversary, wade pools, worship