The Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center began with a huge contribution from philanthropists, Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s restaurant and his wife Joan. Mrs. Kroc had an extraordinary vision to create a place where all people, regardless of social status, had access to a world-class recreational, educational and cultural arts facility. When Mrs. Kroc passed away in October 2003, she left $1.5 billion – much of her estate – to The Salvation Army, (by far the largest charitable gift given to any charity at one time.) The money was split evenly among the four Army Territories – Central, East, South and West and designated to build a series of state-of-the-art Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Centers nationwide. Each center was to have programs to stimulate the mind, body and spirit, to provide hope, and to transform the life of each and every member of the community.
In 2005 The Salvation Army Hampton Roads Area Command began working with local government officials, including then City of Norfolk Vice Mayor Anthony Burfoot, to ensure that The Kroc Center complemented the goals the city held for the community. To raise additional funds for this huge project, the late Joshua P. Darden and honorary campaign chair Frank Batten, Jr., spear headed a fundraising campaign whose lead gifts and tenacity to garner support allowed The Salvation Army Hampton Roads Area Command to begin construction of the project. The ground was broken in July 2012 after raising $25 million locally, in addition to the $80 million granted from Mrs. Kroc’s bequest. On April 28th, 2014, the doors were opened to the general public. The Salvation Army Kroc Center of Hampton Roads is a fulfillment of Mrs. Kroc’s vision and provides an unprecedented opportunity for the community to do the most good.