South Bend Kroc Center grows stronger together

by Major Angie Wandling

It’s hard to believe that the South Bend, Ind., Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center has been serving the community for five years! What a whirlwind it has been! As our leadership team prepared to celebrate our fifth anniversary year, we identified five priorities: thank our members, volunteers and the community; build brand awareness; maximize our annual events; gain media coverage; and bring to life our newly created strategic plan.

We decided to hold monthly events to highlight what the center offers. We kicked off the year by hosting our annual “Suits for Vets” which serves nearly 200 veterans with suits and clothing, and then in February we hosted a health fair to highlight healthy living and our fitness center. March, of course, proved the perfect time for a basketball tournament which allowed almost 200 teens a safe place to play the game and gave us an opportunity to share the gospel with them. In April, we collaborated with the community on “Labor for Your Neighbor” which brought volunteers together to assist a local family with home improvements. An in May we hosted our first of many “Community Prayer and Praise” events where area churches join us to pray for our neighborhood.

Summer featured a free community picnic in June that was attended by more than 800 neighbors and a community food drive in July for our Family Resource Center that resulted in over 8,000 pantry items and cash donations. In August our annual “Hole-in-One” fundraiser was held to benefit families through assistance and scholarships, while our fall programs began in September with new program introductions to reach more people. The annual fundraising gala is being held in October to support our Family Resource Center and to provide Kroc Center scholarships. Then, we’ll wrap up 2017 with a celebration of the birth of Christ the Messiah and a Christmas campaign.

This year-long celebration has proven a wonderful way of reflecting on our progress in the last five years. Today, the South Bend Kroc Center offers hundreds of classes open to the public from exercise groups to afterschool and literacy tutoring to personal financial management and Bible studies to certification in first-aid. Of course, there are a great variety of athletic options from sport leagues to classes in swimming.

“We recognize God’s hand has been guiding and providing for us each step of the way,” said Major Monty Wandling, senior Kroc Center officer. “We are confident God has incredible plans in store as we breathe life into the vision He has provided. We want to honor Him with the great resources He has provided and continue to see many lives changed as we serve Him faithfully and grow stronger together.”