Aurora Salvation Army Corps launches $8 million community center

By Al Benson
, Oct. 23, 2019– Salvation Army Aurora Corps held a ceremonial groundbreaking Thursday (Oct. 23) for phase one of a two-phase $8 million community center on Aurora’s West Side.

With construction underway as a backdrop, Salvation Army leaders, Aurora officials and guests celebrated the center’s launch at 550 Redwood Drive in Aurora. Highlights included speeches, music by a Salvation Army brass band and coffee and doughnuts from an Army mobile canteen.

Community center is coming.
Guest speakers take their turn Wednesday, Oct. 23, during a ceremonial groundbreaking for an $8 million Salvation Army community center in Aurora. (Al Benson photo)

The initial phase, 11,350 square feet estimated to cost $5 million, is scheduled for completion in August 2020. It will include a food pantry, chapel, classrooms and social services office.

Phase two, 11,700 square feet estimated at $3 million, will include a gymnasium, computer lab, food pantry storage, backup generator and emergency disaster services garage to house a regional mobile feeding canteen. No start or completion dates were given.

According to a press release, the facility on 2.5 acres will be handicapped accessible and will include green space for youth sports programs.

R.C. Wegman Construction Co. of Aurora is the contractor. Wright Heerema architects designed the building.

Forest White, Aurora Corps Salvation Army board chair, welcomed guests to open the program. After presentation of flags by an Aurora Fire Department color guard and singing of the national anthem, White issued a call to the community to help raise $3 million for Phase 2.

The new site is expected to expand the Salvation Army’s ability to serve individuals in Aurora and neighboring communities. New programs planned include community-life skills such as budgeting, resume building and English as a second language.

Groundbreaking for community center
Linnea and Rich Forney, Salvation Army Aurora Corps leaders, Wednesday, Oct. 23, during a ceremonial groundbreaking for an $8 million Salvation Army community center in Aurora. (Al Benson photo)

Rich and Linnea Forney of Aurora, Salvation Army captains, are Aurora Corps officers for the project. Rich Forney said, “This is a dream in the making.  We want to provide quality services for our neighbors in need. The new facility will allow us to do so in a single-level, ADA-accessible building.”

Salvation Army Band
Salvation Army Band at the Oct. 23 groundbreaking for Aurora Salvation Army community center. Photo: John Ross (see Facebook for more photos)

“Today we celebrate not in where we are, but where we can be, and will be. Not just as a building, but as a community. We celebrate the hope for a better tomorrow for all our neighbors in need.

“We are the Salvation Army. Salvation and service are the heartbeat of our mission, to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human needs in His name without discrimination.

“We are the Salvation Army. Together. An army of mobilized volunteers will serving our community. Advisory board members, volunteers, staff and soldiers, men women old and young. This building and all that will take place here represents hope.

Work on the community center is beginning.
Construction continues Wednesday, Oct. 23, during a ceremonial groundbreaking for an $8 million Salvation Army community center in Aurora. (Al Benson photo)

“Hope for the hungry, for those struggling to pay their rent. Hope when there is loneliness. Hope for the immigrant far from their family seeking to make this their new home.

“We are Aurora strong. We are hope strong. Where Hope is needed we are there, and we will be here.

“We are blessed to be your Salvation Army. May the Lord continue to bless us and our community. To provide the needed resources to meet the needs as we stay in His will” Forney said.

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Al Benson
Freelance Photo-Journalist

Al Benson is an Aurora-based freelance photo-journalist. He is currently an archives research specialist at Aurora University. His work has appeared in The Voice, The Daily Herald, The Beacon-News, and the Chicago Tribune.

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