Spotlight on a Kroctastic Achievement: Bruce Fuqua

Bruce with his 3rd place trophy!

Bruce with his 3rd place trophy!

Meet Bruce!  He is the Facilities Director at the Kroc Center.  Bruce competed in his first ever body building competition on July 5th, 2014.    Not only did he complete his first competition, but he placed 3rd in his age group!  The most amazing thing about his achievement is that it happened on the anniversary of his emergency appendectomy.

During the year following his surgery, Bruce decided to get back in shape.  He was shopping for life insurance and wanted to be healthy to get a good price.  He had always dreamed of being a body builder, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity!  “I have always wanted to be a body builder and compete, but thought I was too small.  When I found out that it was not all about how big you could get but more about symmetry and proportion I decided to start training.”

Bruce’s training regimen consisted of 10 months altogether, including 5 months of intense preparation.  Early morning workouts, strict dieting, and even the time commitment of posing classes all presented significant challenges.  The hardest things were getting to the gym by 6:00am every morning and staying away from junk foods and sugars while getting enough protein. “I want to thank my wife Dawn for being patient with me making noise at 4:30am every morning when I would get up to come in and work out and when I would leave her alone on Sunday afternoon so I could go to posing practice.”  But winning an unexpected 3rd place made it all worth the work!

The Kroc Center played a big part in Bruce’s motivation and success.  “Without the Kroc Center I don’t think I would have done anything different than I always had done before working here.  I would have tried to stay fit, but would not have learned that competing was something I could have ever done.”  He appreciated all the support and instruction from the staff, and especially loved the convenience of training in a facility that provides all the equipment and expertise he needed to prepare.  “The trainers and staff were a great resource for information and instruction and were always eager to help me with any questions I had.”

Since the competition, Bruce has expanded his fitness goals.  “I would like to continue competing and maybe do some mud runs or obstacle racing.  I might even throw in some cross fit.  I would like to do some parkour, but I may have to make sure my insurance covers crazy first!”

Bruce & wife Dawn (center) with the FRC staff Kolleen (left) and me!

Bruce & wife Dawn (center) with the FRC staff Kolleen (left) and me!

When asked what words of wisdom he has for anybody embarking on their own journey, Bruce stated, “Don’t be afraid to ask for help from people who know more than you, and share your goals and success with others.  The support and encouragement I get from the people here [The Kroc Center] have made all the difference for me.”











Volunteering: Does a Body Good!


Being a volunteer makes life seem brighter. Over the course of my life, I have volunteered in several different capacities. Some of my favorite jobs included being a classroom aid for kindergarteners, serving at church fish fries, and chaperoning youth group and scouting lock-ins. Being a volunteer made me feel like I was really making a difference in someone’s life. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t getting a pay check. In fact, it was almost better that I wasn’t being paid. Even though I have dedicated my life to a helping profession, there are days when I serve out of a sense of obligation instead of altruism. But when I volunteer, I feel better.  And it’s not just all in my head.

In fact, studies have shown that individuals who volunteer on a regular basis are healthier.  The Corporation for National & Community Service confirms that

“those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer.”

There are abstract benefits too.  Benefits like social interactions, fun, and overall happiness.  A recent Gallup research report stated, “Volunteering not only benefits society and improves your Community Wellbeing, but it also increases your learning and interest level throughout the day.”

Now that I am on the other end of the volunteer spectrum, and part of my responsibility includes recruiting and maintaining volunteers for my department, I want the world to know how much good can come from a just a few hours of time.  I am always looking for new and enthusiastic people to brighten the Family Resource Center!  There are many activities that we can’t accomplish on our own, and I love knowing that we are providing the opportunities to help you give back in ways that are lasting.



The Power of a Garden

garden pic

Have you ever noticed how gardens are almost magical places?  They are so quiet and tranquil, yet house a bustle of productivity.  At the risk of sounding like a total hippie, I believe in the healing power of nature.  I know, I know.  Totally cliché, right?  But in fact, a Time Magazine article describes a growing therapeutic trend called “eco-therapy.”


Community gardens have been gaining in popularity specifically to combat the growing urbanization of modern day living.  Depression, anxiety, and emotional stress are all thought to be more debilitating due to our overwhelming disconnect from nature.

Additionally, as our diets continue to include more and more processed foods, we no longer get enough vitamins and minerals from naturally occurring sources.  Supplements can be expensive, especially compared to the cost of a packet of seeds or a tray of starter plants.  The Colorado State Extension explains that consuming a wide variety of fresh produce can provide the necessary vitamins and minerals needed as part of a healthy lifestyle.  Many people are discovering the emotional and physical benefits of growing food instead of lawns.

Through a partnership with Unity Gardens, we have hosted a community garden plot since 2009 to provide healthy and sustainable dietary options for the community.  However, fresh food is only one of the benefits of these gardens.  According to the National Gardening Association, they are often a catalyst for neighborhood improvement.  Increasing the healthfulness and beauty of any neighborhood helps inspire pride and ownership for residents.  Even the most broken neighborhoods can benefit from a plot of land that encourages cooperation, communication, and involvement.

If fresh herbs and veggies appeal to you, stop by our gardens to experience the power of nature for yourself!

A Summer Preview

I can hardly believe that summer is right around the corner!  During the coldest days it seemed like the winter would never end, and yet I look outside and see a blue sky filled with sunshine.  I’m looking forward to a summer filled with exciting activities, and we have a lot to live up to.  Last year some amazing things happened at The Family Resources Center:

We were fortunate enough to be a site for The South Bend Community School Corporation’s Summer Food Program, giving all of our neighborhood children the opportunity to have full bellies at lunch time.

The Kroc Center’s summer camp kids did an awesome service project for our gardens,

Garden project

Yay paint!

helping make colorful row markers for all the growing plants,


mmm, Zucchini!

and spreading mulch,


Who knew gardening could be so much fun?!

so we had lots of veggies to distribute in the pantry!



As the school year rounded the corner, we were able to identify and round-up 26 local children to participate in the Target Back to School Shopping Spree, giving them the opportunity to purchase much-needed school supplies that they would be otherwise unable to afford.  Kids, staff, and volunteers all had a blast that day.  Who doesn’t love a good shopping trip?!


Gettin’ ready for school!

Throughout all the extra activities, the pantry and its dedicated staff continued to fight hunger in our community.  The program served over 1,100 families, feeding a total of 2,638 people, during the summer months.

So, as I stated earlier, we have a lot to live up to!!  Now that the weather is finally warming up, come join us for more fun in the sun.  Check out opportunities you can get involved in at our website!

The Kroc Effect

After finally settling on a title for these posts, I am endeavoring to discover exactly what it means.  To me, to you, to the community…

South Bend Kroc Center

First, a little bit of history about our grand establishment.

San Diego’s Kroc Center was the first to be built with a generous donation from Joan Kroc in 2002.  Since then, these awesome community centers have blossomed in many different communities, from Coeur d’Alene,  Idaho, to Chicago, Illinois, to Memphis, Tennessee.  Each center is started with funds from the Kroc endowment, and then grows to support itself by reaching out to the community.

The Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in South Bend recently celebrated its 2nd birthday.  On January 29, 2014 to be exact.  It is currently one of 27 Kroc Centers across the country.  Offering fitness, enrichment, social services, and a myriad of other programs.  Each one unique according to the needs of its community.    Even the physical structures are different.  Like snowflakes, no two are exactly alike.

Salem Kroc Center

Grand Rapids Kroc Center

Coeur d’ Alene Kroc Center

Phoenix Kroc Center

However, they all have one very important thing in common.  Just like snowflakes with a common molecular structure, they were all built on the foundation of The Salvation Army’s Mission Statement:

The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.

Each center creates an individual mission and vision specifically based on the principles of The Salvation Army Church.  Preach the Good Word.  Meet human need.  Accept those who need us most.

How many of us spend our lives searching for a place to feel safe, secure, loved?  A place that will care for us just as we are, without asking us to be different from what God made us?  A place that inspires our creativity, motivates our goals, and encourages our wellbeing?  Staff that know us by name and smile when we walk through the doors?  A place to belong.

The Kroc Effect.  How has it affected you?


Go Tell It On The Mountain

As with most new adventures, the first step is always the hardest.  But with proper motivation, it is also the most exciting.  Blogging is definitely an unknown frontier for me.  To prepare, I attempted to figure out what makes bloggers tick.

I started reading lots of posts, paying special attention to the maturation process evident throughout each blog.  I started to notice similarities.  Regardless of the style, topic, or individual author, the over-arching theme I repeatedly observed was PASSION.  Each and every blogger feels so passionately about their “something” that they are compelled to share it.  To connect with others who share their passion.  To introduce new people to their world.  Bloggers are individuals who shout their good news from a mountain top.  Ok, a keyboard.  But really, the internet reaches farther than any mountain, and it’s easier to access.

So, what am I passionate about?


Specifically, being able to help people in need.  This is totally what makes me tick.  Providing, assisting, caring, connecting.  Basic levels of human support and interactions.  Raw emotion and uplifting moments.  Exhausting days and exciting projects.  Chocolate and coffee (staples of the social work diet).  Fortunately, I have the perfect job that incorporates all of these things at The Kroc Center.

As I begin the journey to the top of my mountain, I am looking forward to sharing inspiring stories of strength and courage, discussing important policies that impact our mission, and introducing our team as we strive to support one another.  Oh, did I mention chocolate? And coffee.  Preferably both.