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Kroc Center Chicago Celebrates 9 Years of ‘Doing the Most Good’



Kroc Center

The Salvation Army Kroc Center Chicago is celebrating nine years in the West Pullman area. This beautiful, state-of-the-art facility, located at 1250 W. 119th Street, first opened its doors almost a decade ago. On Saturday, June 12, 2021, they commemorated their anniversary of “Doing the Most Good” in the neighborhood.

A Place You Should Know

What many people do not know about the Salvation Army (S.A.) is:

It is an international movement. It is an evangelical part of the universal Christian church. Its message is based on the Bible, its ministry is motivated by the love of God and its mission is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.

Since the Salvation Army Kroc Center Chicago opened its doors, it has upheld and stayed true to its mission. It has served the community wholeheartedly in many facets. This establishment serves the entire family. There are multiple programs available for children of all ages, young adults, men, women, and seniors.

Among the many activities and classes offered at the Kroc Center are:

  • Dance,
  • Boxing,
  • Swimming,
  • Piano,
  • Voice lessons,
  • Senior line dance,
  • Arts and crafts,
  • Pickleball,
  • Basketball,
  • Yoga,
  • Gospel aerobics,
  • Personal training,
  • After-school care,
  • Summer camp,
  • Bible class,
  • And the list goes continues.

A Place Of Transformation

This year, the theme for the center is “Transformation.” The Salvation Army Kroc Center is a place where lives have been transformed from the inside out. This is a place where anyone can come and try new things, hone their skills, and be a part of a transformation, not only of themselves but of the community in which they live. Major John says:

As we change, we get better. This impacts the people around us, which also impacts or community. It starts on the outside and then eventually from the inside out when we start to share the good news and the gospel message of Jesus Christ.

Great Places Are A Result Of Great Leadership

The Kroc Center has had a few leaders since they opened, but for the past three years, it has been spearheaded by an awesome dynamic duo, husband and wife team, John and Johanna Pook. They each wear the title, “major.” They were graced with after 15 years of serving God in the Salvation Army.

The couple decided to serve the Lord through the ministries of the Salvation Army individually, but God had a different plan for their future. Even though they met before their ministry commitment, it was not until they were cadets in seminary school that their courtship began.

Major John is originally from England, and Major Jo, as she is affectionately called, is from Panama, which is in Central America. Although they come from two separate parts of the world, God brought them together as one powerful force to carry out His will.

Two months after they were commissioned as officers of the Salvation Army, they were joined together in Holy Matrimony. “It was a whirlwind summer,” explained Major John. “We were commissioned, began new jobs, and moved into a new home. Some of the biggest things in life happened all in one summer. It has been an adventure every day, he says, but a good one.”

Since becoming officers, they have served in Omaha, Nebraska, and Illinois — Chicago Midway, Oak Brook, and now Kroc Center Chicago. This is how it works in the Salvation Army. “When you make that allegiance as an officer, you are saying, Lord, use me. I will go wherever you send me. This is the mindset that we have had since responding to the call to serve the Lord in the Salvation Army,” Major Jo expressed.

An Awesome Addition

Kroc CenterWhen a cadet completes seminary school, their first commissioned rank is Lieutenant. In 2019, one year after John and Johanna were assigned to the Kroc Center Chicago, the Lord turned the “dynamic duo” into a “terrific trio” when he added Lieutenant Shanell Johnson to the mix.

Lt. Shanell began her relationship with the S.A. as a volunteer when she was in high school. As a volunteer, she had the great opportunity to work in and experience almost every area of the Corp.

Even though she was loving her volunteer work in the S.A., God had something more for her to do. Shanell knew the Lord was calling her to a greater work, but she had doubts within herself. So, in 2017, she stopped dodging her destiny and surrendered to her call into the ministry.

This Spirit-filled, hard-working woman continues to help make the Kroc Center the awesome place it is today. Not only does Shanell assist in the planning and orchestration of the happenings at the Kroc Center, but she can also be found preaching the word of God at the Kroc Church a couple of Sundays a month.

Celebrating 9 Years

Kroc CenterNine years of dedication to the people, the ministry, and the community. These are three great reasons to celebrate. However, the plan is to go lowkey for the 9th year, but not to ignore it, so there will be a complete day of free, drop-in activities for the whole family on Friday, June 18; culminating activities honoring Juneteenth on Saturday; and a climax of praise and worship on Sunday morning.

Scheduled events on Friday will allow the community to celebrate the center’s success and experience the many wonderful things that are offered as the different departments are showcased.

Saturday will highlight Juneteenth. “With everything that has been happening in our world, we want to celebrate the freedom of Black people. We want to celebrate the fact that the Kroc Center is here and that we are free,” says Major Jo.

Some Major Insight

The Kroc Center is a location where people can come and be a part of a community. It is a center where strangers become friends, friends become family, and family creates community, and we are a community.

This center is a gift, a gift to the people, the Southside, and actually anyone. Kroc is a blessing from the Lord where folk can tap into their God-given potential, discover their gift, make a difference in the world, and ultimately give glory to God.

The S.A. Kroc Center is a safe haven where all can come and feel welcome, respected, accepted, and loved. The Southside/West Pullman area was blessed with this magnificent recreation center nine years ago. All are welcome to experience the transformation that takes place inside and become a member of something great.

Written by Sharri Rogers
Edited by Sheena Robertson


Majors John and Johanna Pook: Interviewed June 1, 2021
Lieutenant Shanell Johnson: interviewed June 6, 2021
Salvation Army Kroc Center Chicago

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Majors John and Johanna Pook – Used With Permission
First Inset Image Courtesy of Lieutenant Shanell Johnson – Used With Permission
Second Inset Image Courtesy of Bradley Baker – Used With Permission

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