Wednesday May 7th, 2014 was a special day for the Alief Community.
The Salvation Army opened its doors to the brand new International Corps Community Center in Alief, TX. Located on 7920 Cook Road, Houston, TX 77072; the intended mission of the center is to foster community engagement and provide necessary services like after-school programs, ESL classes, performing arts classes, occupational training, food-distribution and faith based support.
Among the staff and members, 27 nationalities and 17 different languages are represented which makes up the most diverse Corps in the Salvation Army’s Southern Territory which includes 14 states and Washington D.C. With Alief being one of the most diverse communities not just in Houston, but all of America; the staff and member diversity will bode well when interfacing with people of Alief.
It is also the largest Corps Community Center in Houston, not including Salvation Army homeless shelters. At any given time 850 people can be served through the 8 classrooms, chapel, dining hall, gym and outdoor field. In case of a disaster, if the facility is not severely impacted, it can also provide temporary shelter and other emergency services.
The land for the facility was purchased on October 14th, 2005 in hopes of realizing Lt. Colonel Henry & Doris Gonzalez’s vision for an International Corps Community Center. One year later, Captain Stephen and Sujung Na were brought in to lead the Corps.
Their journey was full of twists and turns as they outgrew one temporary facility after another. Most recently they were stationed near Harwin and Ranchester.
But now they are happy to call this facility their permanent home where they will anchor the community services and outreach mentioned above.
For their hard work and community stewardship; District F Council Member Richard Nguyen was onsite to recognize both Captain Stephen and his wife Sujung Na as well everyone who participated in making this center become a reality.
You can see Council Member Nguyen’s speech and dedication here:
The ribbon cutting ceremony was full of prayer, song and stories of the challenges faced by each staff and member who make up this corp.
One of the inspiring stories shared was by Tom Forney who is the Founder of Forney Construction, the company responsible for building the Crops center. The architectural design was done by Studio RED Architects.
He joked about the 12 year timeline of the construction. While he was simply searching for his next big project to keep his company moving, he realized there was more at stake here than just another buildout. As a result, he ultimately invested his own time and resources into this project because he saw the greater vision and the number of lives it would impact positively.
With the center now open for the public, church services will be held on Sundays in Chinese, English, Spanish, Vietnamese and Korean. Additional community partnerships will be forged to enhance the food distribution capabilities as well as the programs they provide.