63rd Street: Woodlawn Pastor to March Across America to Raise Money for Community Center

Corey Brooks Photo by Morgan Reid

 Pastor Corey Brooks plans to walk from New York to LA this summer
to raise money for a community center. (Photo by Morgan Reid) 

63rd Street IconBy Clayton Guse and Morgan Reid
The Red Line Project

Posted: Thursday, May 31, 2012

On June 5, Pastor Corey Brooks of the New Beginnings church in Woodlawn will depart from Times Square in New York on a four-month long walk to Los Angeles in an effort to raise $15 million to construct a community center for the neighborhood.

The walk, titled “Walk Across America,” will begin three months after Brooks ended a 94-day camp out on the roof of a motel across the street from the South Side church, a location that was notorious for the trade of drugs and prostitutes. His camping made national headlines.

“[The motel] was an eye sore, a den of criminal activity,” Brooks said. “So we had it shut down and then we put a contract on it to purchase it.”

With the help of a $100,000 donation by movie star Tyler Perry, Brooks raised the $450,000 to buy the property and tear down the building.

Vacant Lot Photo

The vacant lot once home to a rundown motel where Brooks plans to build a
community center to combat gun violence. (Photo by Morgan Reid)

“Overall, [camping on the roof] was a very humbling experience and it was a very encouraging experience,” Brooks said.

Brooks’ initiative to raise the funds to tear down the motel and construct a community center is a part of his “Project HOOD,” which stands for, “Helping Others Obtain Destiny.”

The planned community center will be built on the former site of the motel, and will aim to battle and bring awareness to the problem of gun violence in the Woodlawn and Englewood areas.

“In any inner city that is highly populated by African Americans there are four basic social ills,” he said. “There are educational issues, economic issues, social issues, and spiritual issues. We have to form a center that combats all of that.”

According to Brooks, the community center hopes to be a model for other urban areas across the nation to follow.

Now that the motel has been purchased and torn down, Brooks’ goal has turned to raising the $15 million for the center. The campaign has raised $100,000 so far, but is just kicking off.

On Thursday, May 31 Project Hood hosted a fundraiser at the Center on Halsted for “Walk Across America.”

Brooks, 43, will be walking with a small group that includes two of his sons and a small crew, yet he will be the only one to take each step along the trip.

Interactive map: The route Brooks plans to take.

View "Walk Across America" in a larger map

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