THE SALVATION ARMY KROC CENTER STORY
The concept of a Salvation Army community center on the Mississippi Gulf Coast first began in 2002 with a $2 million donation from Joan Kroc, widow of McDonald’s franchise founder Ray Kroc. Although the project was delayed due to the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, our leadership’s vision never wavered. The project scope continued to expand, and in 2009, the final tally culminated in a multi-million-dollar gift from The Salvation Army, courtesy of a donation from the estate of Mrs. Kroc, to Gulf Coast residents for the construction and future operation of The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center.
The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center, known as The Salvation Army Kroc Center, opened its doors to the public on September 19, 2011. Mrs. Kroc made a $1.5 billion donation to The Salvation Army to build “Kroc” Centers around the U.S. Today there are 26 centers located around the country.
In keeping with Mrs. Kroc’s charge that every Kroc Center be a beacon of hope and an agent of change in an under-served community, the Salvation Army Kroc Center is located in the very heart of the East Biloxi Community, at the historic Yankie Stadium. The Center provides facilities, programs and services that encourage positive living, offer life-changing experiences for children and adults, strengthen families and enrich the lives of seniors. These facilities, programs and services promote educational enrichment, life skills development and spiritual and physical wellness.
The Kroc Center is 52,000 square feet and features a chapel/performing arts center with state of the art audio/visual capabilities; full-sized gymnasium for indoor recreation sports; weight and exercise rooms; dance and aerobic studio; men’s, women’s and family locker rooms; multi-purpose room/dining hall for Salvation Army and community events; and monitored childcare; classrooms; meeting rooms; and a multi-purpose lobby for art and music exhibits. The Center also features an indoor Aquatics Center with exercise pool with zero degree entry, a lap pool for lessons and sports programs, splash pad and two-story water slide. The outdoor recreation area includes a stadium complex with a full athletic field, 1/4 mile track and visitor stands.
While The Salvation Army Kroc Center is ideally located to meet the needs of underserved residents, the programs and services provided are being designed to serve as a magnet that will attract the entire coast community, be financially self-sustaining and further the mission of The Salvation Army.