The Aurora, Ill., Corps broke ground on the site for their new corps and community center which will greatly enhance their ability to provide essential services including a food pantry and emergency assistance as well as opportunities for worship and programs for children, youth and adults to their community of 200,000.
At the groundbreaking ceremony Salvation Army Aurora Advisory Board Chair Forest White noted that The Salvation Army has been serving the community for 135 years. “The new building has been a long time coming for this community,” he said. “The current building is not the type of facility to do everything they want to do.”
Captains Rich and Linnea Forney, Aurora corps officers, are excited about the possibilities the new building holds. Immediately, the corps will be entirely ADA accessible as the new facility is all one level, whereas the current building is a split-story. They also will be able to provide meals from their kitchen and accommodate parking for all of the programs and services, two things that have proven challenging in the current facility.
“Parking has been a problem,” said Captain Rich. “We currently have only 12 parking spaces. When both phases of our project are complete, we will have more than 100.”
Phase one of the construction project, which will be just over 11,000 square feet, is expected to wrap up this August and will include social services offices along with a food pantry, kitchen, chapel and classrooms.
“When Phase one is complete we will be able to transfer all of our current programs and services to the new location,” said the captain. “We can then begin preparations for Phase two, which will include an additional foyer, gymnasium, emergency disaster services (EDS) garage and generator to keep us running in the event of a disaster.”
Once the project is complete, the captains plan to hire a family ministries director and make use of the acreage and gymnasium to serve families with youth sports, a day program for seniors and afterschool care for children, for a start. They also hope to handle Angel Tree and Christmas food box distribution for 1,000-plus families on-site and use the kitchen and EDS garage as a command center for the community.
Concluding the groundbreaking ceremony, Aurora’s Deputy Mayor Chuck Nelson, a longtime supporter of The Salvation Army, noted the presence of people from the entire community.
“That says something about an organization,” he said. He praised the Army’s “inspiring and unwavering devotion to serve the physical and spiritual needs of the community for years to come.”