(Memphis) After years of anticipation the doors of the new Ray Kroc Community Center opened Saturday.
Dozens waited in the chilly weather as a chopper hovered through the sky, bringing, RJ Kroc, the new Kroc Community Center’s mascot.
“People have been planning for this for so long. There have been problems along the way that are all forgotten today, because we know the purpose for this community center is being realized,” said Salvation Army Captain, Barbara Rich.
Hundreds flocked to the center for Saturday’s opening, including some of the most famous Memphians, the Peabody ducks. But the day just isn’t about games, swimming, and family fun. Captain Barbara Rich says it’s about the future. Usually the Salvation Army steps in when families are in trouble. This community center takes a more proactive approach in keeping families healthy and stable.
“This is a place for them. This is a place where the doors have been opened. It doesn’t matter where they are from, we want them to be part of this community bringing together all different people,” said Rich.
Willa Graham has been active with the Salvation Army since the 1960’s; she’s looked forward to this weekend’s grand opening since talks of the center began almost a decade ago. Mrs. Graham has been having leg and hip pains recently but says nothing could have stopped her from coming.
“I’m delighted, I just wish I was in good shape to go jump in that pool,” exclaimed Graham.
More than 3,000 people signed up to take advantage of the center before the doors even opened which the Salvation Army believes speaks to how much of a need there was for a community center in the middle of Memphis.
Mom, Mary Read bought a membership for her family. She hadn’t had a gym membership in about a year, because it was just too expensive. She’ll save hundreds of dollars at the Kroc.
“I was trying to find a place that would have everything. Something for the kids and be a reasonable price for me and have the flexibility where I could work out and have child care,” said Read.
It’s fitting those needs of Memphis families the Salvation Army says this center is all about.
Money raised through the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Program does not support the center. Membership fees and an endowment grant will help keep the doors open.