Kroc Center opens doors for wellness outreach

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Sunday-afternoon program fosters health and connections 

By Hannah Roberts – 

The Salvation Army Coeur d’Alene (Idaho) Kroc Center launched The Well, a Sunday-afternoon outreach to foster health and connections in the community Jan. 5.

The Kroc Center is the city’s largest community center, and since it opened in 2009, staff have been focused on using the 132,000-square-foot facility and its state-of-the-art equipment to serve the area wherever they see a need. The new initiative serves as a chance to meet many needs at once, at no cost to participants.

Spearheaded by Kroc staff member Wade Isley and Corps Officer Major Don Gilger, The Well begins with two 45-minute segments: A TED-style “Kroc Talk” and then a small group breakout wellness session. 

For the inaugural talk, Gilger spoke about how everyone fails in life, but everyone can also succeed. The second Sunday, 37 people who braved the snow heard Dr. Joseph Obake share on “What is Wellness?”

During small groups, which were populated with guests of all ages, “People opened up and had deep conversations,” Isley said. “It was cool to see the progression.”

The rotating fitness classes on offer include a “Krocs Fit” basic workout, along with other popular options including Zumba, pilates and strength training. The event is also staffed with 15-20 volunteers who organize the groups, offer encouragement and give personalized training and advice.

“It was a great turnout, with 80 people the first Sunday,” Isley said. “But beyond the numbers, it was so great to see the joy.”

Kids sitting on floor reading Bible

To his surprise, the most popular segment among all of the age groups the first week appeared to be the combined dodgeball and kickball—an accessible, fun time with just the right amount of competition. The second Sunday, the “Kid Fit Go” program gave the children in attendance a perfect place to channel their snow-day energy.

One of the greatest moments for Isley personally came when his own mother-in-law, Stephanie Mingura, came away from a physical therapy consultation in tears, overjoyed to have learned techniques to strengthen her bad knee. Mingura had never been able to afford physical therapy at a gym, but now she can get training for free every week.

And the offerings aren’t limited to just physical health, either. The Well also incorporates financial classes, gratitude journaling and other tools for wellbeing into its rotating choices. And so far, participants’ only struggle has been choosing between them all.

The Well is scheduled to run every Sunday except Easter, and if it reaches maximum capacity—around 200—leaders plan to branch out to offering tailored Wells for different groups. The emphasis on intentional living will continue with more one-off events, including a “Healthy Super Bowl Party” in February.

Every great idea starts small, and for The Well, it began with a one-on-one relationship. Isley used to be Gilger’s personal trainer, and through that experience they realized the potential for a fitness-focused outreach. They and the rest of the Kroc team relied on a combination of internal marketing, word of mouth and even a medical clinic program that referred patients their way.

“We’ve had amazing feedback,” Isley says. “Everyone said they’d be back and invite friends.” 

By all accounts, those involved have gone above and beyond to tailor their care to individual needs. The second week, North Idaho Physical Therapy even gifted mid-week sessions to a participant they didn’t feel got an adequate amount of training during the gathering. And this dedication by organizers has prompted the same response in attendees.

“I wanted to come back this week because I wanted to be part of something,” participant Karen Currie said at the second meeting. “I couldn’t miss it even with 10 inches of snow.”

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