The public gets its first peek inside the center during tours
11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. June 16, followed by a free concert featuring
local church choirs and the Kroc Center choirs, plus the Kroc
Center Praise Dance Team, at 6-8 p.m. A special worship and
dedication service is 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. June 17.
1250 W. 119th St., Chicago
Targeting a Chicago neighborhood where children can't play
without fear of drive-by shootings, the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps
Community Center promises not only a place of peace, but one where
its leaders hope children will find their spark.
From the giant indoor water park and aquatic center to the
basketball courts mimicking the Bulls' court at the United Center,
to the music classrooms, birthday party rooms and job training and
counseling, the Salvation Army has crafted a $160 million
state-of-the-art facility expected to draw 2,500 people a day.
The impact has already begun to transform the West Pullman
community, considered one of the most underserved in Chicago, as
staff spent the past five years offering programs and camps the
community lacked, says Lt. Col. Ralph Bukiewicz, The Salvation
Army's metropolitan divisional commander.
The Chicago center, one of 27 planned nationwide, is the result
of a $1.5 billion donation from Joan Kroc, widow of McDonald's
founder Ray Kroc.
For one Chicago mom of 13-year-old twins and a 5-year-old, the
center comes just in time. Andrea Sutherlin-Thames says her
children are not allowed to go beyond a set perimeter around the
house and she spends all of her time driving them from community to
community for activities her own community didn't offer until
She booked the center's first birthday party and already is
planning to sign her children up for every activity she can.
"It's just a miracle to see the young people that we've
developed relationships with have a safe place to come, not just a
safe place, but a state-of-the-art facility," says Maj. Darlene
Harvey, co-administrator of the center.
"Now they will be able to discover their spark, something that
will make them feel their purpose in their life."
Tamara is the editor of Chicago Parent and mom of three.
See more of Tamara's stories here.
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