Grand Rapids Kroc celebrates transformations

by Jon Shaner and T.J. VanSlooten

This year The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Grand Rapids, Mich., is highlighting stories of participants who have experienced transformations in order to remind staff, guests and the community of the impact the Kroc Center can have.

The brainchild of Lts. Bill and Taylor Brutto, who lead the Grand Rapids Kroc Center, “Be Transformed” is based on the idea everyone can change their lives with God’s help and support from people who care.

“We wanted to promote a more holistic type of wellness,” said Lt. Bill Brutto, senior Kroc officer. “It’s about understanding that mind, body and spirit are all interconnected.”

In the winter program guide, the Kroc Center started including stories of individuals who said their lives had been changed. Reaction was so positive the stories then were shared via videos on social media and in mailings to local homes. “Be Transformed” also became a series of sermons that culminated on Easter Sunday with the ultimate story of transformation made possible through Christ’s death and resurrection.

Lt. Taylor Brutto, Kroc center officer for mission integration and youth development, said, “I love how this campaign applies to mission integration and the overall mission of The Salvation Army to save and change lives. Most people at the Kroc come just to exercise, play or attend church, but we want everyone to know those things don’t have to stay in separate little boxes.”

The Bruttos make a conscious effort to lead by example, working out at the Kroc frequently. They also have challenged the congregation to participate in the Daniel Plan, a faith-based nutrition and exercise program.

Success stories featured during the “Be Transformed” campaign include:

  • A woman who credits Kroc personal training with helping her lose weight, control cholesterol and complete multiple 5K runs and walks;
  • A teen, who overcame a near-drowning experience as a child, learning how to swim through lessons at the center;
  • A Christian missionary family who use the Kroc scholarship program to be able to provide wellness opportunities for their three kids;
  • A young man who grew in faith and learned responsibility by becoming a teen leader at Camp Kroc summer day camp.

Steps to continue the campaign’s success include a podcast led by Lt. Taylor Brutto, as well as a blog on the Kroc Center’s website, GrKrocCenter.org.

“We never could have imagined how people would embrace this,” concluded Lt. Bill. “Our members enjoy stories about their friends and neighbors, and our Kroc Krew loves to see people reach their goals because it means we can all celebrate that transformation together as God works in our lives.”