In Dayton, Ohio; there's a sense of pride in history and the community that is unlike most places in America.
In fact Ohio in itself was built upon the blood, sweat, and tears of the working man and that class of people were able to create an empire inside their communities from the dedication of their hard work during the industrialized era of manufacturing and its booming development.
However in recent decades, along with the decline of the manufacturing sector and the slow decay of the rust belt; Ohio alongside much of the Midwest has began to fall apart.
That doesn't mean however that the pride has disappeared and the sense of community has dwindled; despite the tasks and challenges of the 21st century making success more difficult for the region.
One family; that of historic McDonald's founded Ray Kroc; decided it would begin one of the largest philanthropic movements in American History as per the late wife of the creator of McDonald's, Joan Kroc.
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In fact Joan Kroc believed so strongly in rebuilding America that she invested hundreds of millions of dollars into the Salvation Army with the hopes to build massive community centers across America.
Seven years ago, her legacy continued into Dayton, Ohio building one of the nation's largest and most advanced of the series of Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Community Centers, with a whopping cost tuning in at $40 million dollars.
The state of the art facility is located at 1000 N. Keowee Street in Dayton, where there is now an intention to expand upon the land and make the Salvation Army Joan and Ray Kroc Center even more fulfilling than it already is.
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The announcement came on Thursday that the forty million dollar center will be spending an additional $4.3 million to add both an ultra-modern Amphitheater and a Soccer Field onto the premises so that children and families can find recreational, educational, and cultural activities otherwise beyond their reach due to budget restraints in the cities.
This philanthropic maneuver will make the total invested in the 25 national Salvation Army Kroc Centers raise to over $1.5 billion that's been given back to communities from the McDonald's founders.
Major Stanley Senak of the Salvation Army said that as a proud Ohioan it brings tears to his eyes to see successful men and women willing to give back everything they've acquired through hard work to give others a chance in life they would not have.
There are already indoor centers including swimming pools and movie theaters as well as every possible sport and arts facility you could imagine.
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Legal Immigrants in Ohio along with natives have shown an increased interest in the past few decades in the sport of Soccer; in part due to the concerns over the health risks from Football and the ongoing Anti-American sentiment from professional Football and Basketball, making soccer one of the go-to sports for students in Ohio.
“In this community we have a larger immigrant population and they play soccer,” Senak said. “We were looking at what would meet the needs in this community.”
The new project will be funded with Salvation Army resources from philanthropist and McDonald’s heiress Joan Kroc’s donation to the national organization, which also helped fund the seven-year-old Dayton community center.
The multimillion dollar center currently has an estimated 128 kids who are on the grounds at any given day, ensuring that anyone from Ohio and the region can come and participate in advancing their ability to enjoy life at any time.
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There are currently several after school programs to which anyone can attend as well as specialized funding programs such as those to help feed struggling families on holidays and hand out Christmas presents to those less fortunate.
In recent years due to the overwhelming collapse of manufacturing jobs in Ohio as well as the opioid crisis putting strains on the community the Kroc Center with the Salvation Army have assisted in paying for utilities of struggling families and rehabilitation services to parents who cope with addiction in order for them to get the necessary help to turn their lives around for their family.
President of the McCook Field Neighborhood Association, Jerry Cook III said that there is over seventeen acres of undeveloped land in the area and he welcomes the new additions to the community.
Senak said that the new amphitheater and outdoor activities will create a place for families to bring lawn chairs and enjoy nature at the same time as allowing children with “Big Dreams” to have those fulfilled.
“It will be something where the neighborhood can come and have a fun time,” Senak said.
The green space was something of a debate, but inevitably the Salvation Army decided to keep mother nature as a part of their campus and help promote green activities.
Business Administrator Tim Erlandson said that the 128 seat outdoor Amphitheater will help to encourage outdoor recreation as well as give children a chance to exercise and stay healthy.
He also said that this will give the Salvation Army and outdoor space to hold their mobile community feeding Canteen as well as assist the homeless as often as possible.
The soccer field will be able to serve as a lacrosse field. The project will also include a walking track wrapping around the field, a splash pad, and outdoor pickleball courts. Senak said interest in pickleball has picked up in Dayton and its the fastest growing sport in America.
“It’s really picked up on our indoor courts,” he said.
With a $4.3 million investment in an already $40 million dollar community center it shows that philanthropic attempts from proud organizations such as the Salvation Army and wealthy people who care about their communities can help Make America Great Again.
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