Center provides jobs, services for the westside
By Jack Danilewicz
With its grand facilities, The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center, known locally as Kroc Center Hawaii, stands as a beacon of light on the West Oahu in its mission to serve the public. Club members and visitors arrive at the 15-acre site to find a health and wellness center, aquatic center, worship and performing arts center, an education and resource center, an early childhood education center, a multi-use outdoor field and a dormitory to house overnight guests — often visiting athletic teams from off island — among other services.
Mention of those areas is only to begin to scratch the surface. The aquatics center, to be sure, is not your ordinary facility, as it is equipped with a competition pool, an “adventure” cove pool and a jacuzzi. With that in mind, what the Kroc Center also provides are jobs for Oahu’s residents.
All tabulated, Kroc Center is the fifth largest employer in West Oahu, with 375 employees, 70 of which are full-timers. During the summer, that number increases to 450 with the addition of summer help, as Kroc Center prepares to staff its day camp program and special events staff.
Day camp jobs are a popular choice for local college students on break from their school year.
“We’re the perfect place for college students, and we have a lot of returning employees each summer,” said director Bram Begonia.
Kroc Center’s “summer peak,” as Begonia calls it, began May 15, just as it does each year. “We become everyone’s favorite place for the summer,” he said. “We’ll have over 2,000 entries per day.”
Transportation-wise, working at Kroc Center has been made easier in the last year with the addition of the 416 bus route, which drops workers and visitors right at the front door. The rail, currently under construction, will also pass behind, along Kualakai Parkway.
Among Kroc Center’s proudest programs is its “Wednesday Club” for students in the area. With school breaking for the day early on Wednesdays, “Wednesday Club,” is held from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., and kids enrolled for the price of just $7 (for 12 weeks) get to participate in a host of activities on site, such as performing and creative arts. Dinner is also provided.
“This is where we think we make the biggest difference,” Begonia added of Kroc Center’s programs aimed to serve youngsters.
The nationally accredited Camp Home Alani is another popular program set up for kids. An overnight camp, kids are treated to five days and four nights on the Kroc Center campus for a cost of just $500.
With full banquet facilities on site (and its own chef and food services), that number easily tops 3,000 on certain days. Wedding receptions in Kroc Center’s ballroom also are commonly held.
“We’re geared to families,” said Begonia. “We’re focused on bringing entire families together.”
For his part, Begonia has been a director since 2006, even before Kroc Center’s 2012 grand opening. Prior to returning to Hawaii — he was born in Lihue, Kauai and lived on Maui at the end of his teenage years — Begonia had been a partner for six years in a medical management firm in Los Angeles, California.
The Salvation Army had always been on the margin of his life, however, with both of his parents and his grandparents previously serving as pastors for the organization.
Kroc Center Hawaii was part of the vision of Joan Kroc, widow of McDonald’s restaurant founder Ray Kroc. Upon her passing in 2004, Joan left behind a large gift: a sum of $1.5 billion, with the intent of funding 27 Kroc Centers throughout the United States. Kroc Center Hawaii opened its doors on Feb. 1, 2012. A total of $110 million dollars were provided through Joan Kroc’s donations. An additional $23 million was raised by Kroc Center Hawaii itself, which was no small feat, as this was completed amid “a challenged economy,” according to Begonia.
When first under construction, Kroc Center Hawaii’s surroundings consisted of mainly undeveloped land. That has also changed, with an entire community having been built around its acreage. Included is the new East Kapolei Middle School, which began construction on May 10 across the street from the center.
“The future looks very great,” said Begonia.
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COMPANY:Kroc Center Hawaii
LOCATION: 91-3257 Kualakai Pkwy., Ewa Beach
SENIOR PASTORS/ EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS: Majors Phil and Debbie Lum
EMPLOYEES: 375, including 70 full-time; staff increases to 450 during the summer season
BENEFITS: Salary full-time employees receive four weeks vacation, 13 holidays and some medical/dental; hourly full-time employees receive two weeks vacation, 13 holidays and some medical/dental; all full-time staff are part of pension plan (50 percent vested after five years, 100 percent vested after 10 years); and part-time employees receive 2 weeks vacation and 13 holidays. All staff members receive discounts on personal and family memberships , programs, including day camp, and discounts on rentals for events/parties.