After seven years and a $22 million local fundraising effort, the only thing that still stood between the new Kroc Center and the people of Augusta was a long indigo-colored ribbon. On Sunday, that ribbon was cut.
The Salvation Army dedicated its new Augusta Kroc Community Center, a 100,000-square-foot fitness, education, performing arts and worship complex on Broad Street in Harrisburg.
Kroc centers are made possible nationwide though a $1.7 billion donation by the late Joan Kroc. They are built in low-income, urban neighborhoods surrounded by higher-income neighborhoods, and their purpose is to provide facilities, programs and services that encourage positive, life-changing experiences.
At Sunday's ceremony in Augusta, the Salvation Army's Col. Terry Griffin read a biblical passage from Acts 3, about a lame beggar who was healed at the gates of the temple.
"It's a story of healing and transformation," Griffin said. "The beggar only thought of what his condition was, not what it could be.
"We today are also challenged, not only by what is, but what can be. Not just for us, but for the community around us."
Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver said the completed complex, like the cool July morning on which it was dedicated, was a blessing.
"It's amazing, how in the midst of the biggest recession of my lifetime, we could come together to raise the money to build this center," he said.
After the ceremony, the Kroc Center's doors were opened, and about 200 people entered for its first church service.
Maj. James Hall, a past administrator of the Salvation Army in Augusta, initially put the idea for a local Kroc Center before the board in June 2004. He returned Sunday to witness the fruition of that idea.
"I'm thrilled, and I'm humbled," he said. "Those who came after us did a fantastic job. They took the dream and made it concrete."