A Love Affair with Kerr County

Kerrville_KrocFeat_WC_Feb15

Perhaps no other community its size has embraced a Salvation Army Kroc Corps Community Center more completely than Kerrville, TX.

“The population of Kerrville is 22,000,” reports Captain Jimmy Parrish. “And the total membership to date tops 3,300, which means that 15 percentage of the city’s population utilizes this facility on a fairly regular basis!”

It’s impressive, but that’s not all. A Kerrville Corps has existed since the 1980s. The Salvation Army’s presence in this gorgeous Hill Country community has been very respectable. A shelter, a social services office and regular corps activities thrived for nearly three decades before the ribbon was cut on the grand Kroc Center in November, 2010.

Having an established corps in Kerrville for nearly 30 years has been a great blessing,” explains Captain Jimmy. “In a smaller city like this, everyone knows everyone, and the community was already very aware of what The Salvation Army could bring to the table, especially with a great facility like a Kroc Center!”

Oscar De La Garza, a single father of two, is one of the soldiers of the former Kerrville Corps who has witnessed the evolution of the thriving corps community center from working there. He’s there seven days a week.

“I was sold on the Army long before talk about a Kroc being awarded here,” Oscar says. “But having this Kroc is a huge bonus, both for the Army and Kerrville!”

Adds Captain Lacy Parrish, “The City of Kerrville just loves the Kroc Corps Center and its mission. They know the Army’s mission and how we fulfill that mission.”

The community recognizes the Army as a religious organization that exists to meet the community’s spiritual, physical and social needs.

Its religious purpose is hard to miss—the chapel is the first thing you see when you enter the front door. One Sunday each month the Parrishes and their Kroc Corps members invite their neighbors to worship as part of Community Sundays.

“This facility gives our corps a unique opportunity to have dynamic worship, and connecting with the community in this way has proven successful in claiming for Christ many who were unchurched before,” Captain Jimmy says. “It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about the Boys & Girls Club, or activities in the gym or at the pool, or exercise areas. The message of the Gospel is quietly and steadfastly promoted.”

Support for the Kroc Center in Kerrville has been strong. Captain Lacy says that donors often come just to check in. Supporters can see how responsible Army personnel are with the money generated to run such a complex. She says the feedback they receive on what to continue and what to improve makes a huge difference.

An astounding 16,000 people come to the Kroc center each month for some type of activity, supporter give in this town of 22,000.

“To my knowledge, Kerrville is the only Kroc in the Southern Territory to not be under an area command,” he observes. “This can be a good thing, and it can be a bad thing.”

Being free of an area command affords the Kroc Center the chance to branch out, but independence has its costs. In Kerrville the Army has other responsibilities not related to the Kroc Center, such as running a family store, a social services office and an emergency family shelter.

“But we don’t mind,” Captain Lacy chimes in, “and we embrace all we do in order to promote the Gospel through so many ways that many of our members would never see… There are so many opportunities to share who we are and why we do what we do in The Salvation Army. Its nice to have a city that loves us for doing just that!

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By Major Frank Duracher