Launches $450,000 economic fund
By Chinta Strausberg
Having succeeded in â€œOperation Shutdownâ€ where he closed a controversial South Side motel, Rev. Corey B. Brooks, Sr., pastor of New Beginnings Church of Chicago, has vowed to remain on top of that shuttered motel in a tent for the next 21-days beginning today where he will not only preach the word, but call for an end to violence.
But thatâ€™s not all. Brooks is also launching a $450,000 campaign Brooks needs to buy the shuttered motel so he can bring economic development, jobs and housing to Woodlawn.
Why would a preacher stay atop a closed motel for 21-days, live in a tent and not come down until he raised $450,000 even if it snows?
Just like he purchased the old roller rink at 6620 S. King Drive now the home of his spacious new $4.5 million church, Brooks has vowed to stay on top of the motel roof until he raises $450,000 he needs to buy the controversial shuttered Super 8 Motel, once named â€œThe Climax Hotelâ€ whose name was changed only because of public pressure.
Brooks moved into the old roller rink five-years ago thanks to a $4.5 million loan from the old Shore Bank now called Urban Partnership Bank but that was approved well before the recession.
However, because of todayâ€™s economy, Brooks said, â€œbesides the recession, banks are not taking greater risks like they used to. Itâ€™s hard enough for us to pay this mortgage let alone adding more debt. I donâ€™t want any more debtâ€¦. Our goal is to buy cash for this building,â€ he said referring to the motel.
The 42-year-old father of four, who was first called to the ministry at the age of 19, is fired up over his new mission this time using a different kind of pressure. He wants his latest venture to be a collective effort and is making an appeal to all of Chicago to be a part of a social and economic change in the Woodlawn community that he says has the infamous title of being â€œthe number one murder capitalâ€ in Chicago.
Referring to the 20th Ward, Brooks said, â€œFor this summer, our ward has been the number one ward for young black males being murdered under the age of 25. Out of all of those murders, Iâ€™ve done ten other funerals here at our church this summer including today which was probably the most awe struck today.â€
Referring to the funeral of the much loved 17-year-old Carlton â€œTu-Tu: King-Archer that was held at his church on Saturday, Brooks said, â€œthe people who shot this young man shot at the kids coming into the funeral today. We had police everywhere. This is the worst Iâ€™ve ever seen.â€
At the end of the King-Archer funeral, Pastor Brooks said, â€œAt the end of the worship service, I felt led that there were four young men who had guns. I asked them to leave them here today. At the end of worship, the police came up to us with some bags. They had received four guns that they collected after the funeral.â€
Asked his reaction to the guns, Brooks said, â€œIt was bitter sweet. I am glad that they did leave them. Iâ€™m glad that they had enough sense to be led to leave the guns, but it saddens me that people bring guns into the church without any regard to God or Godâ€™s people or anything about Christ. Iâ€™m glad that they left them, but at the same time it just breaks my heart that weâ€™ve gotten to that point in society.â€
According to Brooks, in his ward there are four gangs that have carved out territories. â€œWhen people are economically deprived, they try to invade other areas to make more money. You have one gang shooting another gang and then there is retaliation. You have videos and Facebook messages being made about who is going to be killed or who is going to get killed. Itâ€™s been perpetuating itself.
â€œAs a church, we are saying â€˜enoughâ€™ and since no news media is coming out for the death of these young men maybe I can get them to come out for a church trying to make a change in the community. My going on top of the motel is about bringing attention and awareness about what is going on in our neighborhood,â€ explained Brooks.
Instead of accepting that tainted title of his community being the â€œnumber one murder capitalâ€ in Chicago, Brooks will be climbing a ladder and literally taking his message to the motel roof top and like Moses, he says heâ€™s not coming down until he gets the funds he needs to bring economic and social development back to Woodlawn.
â€œOur purpose is to galvanize everyone around a cause and to bring attentionâ€ to the problems of his communityâ€ he says includes ending violence that continues to take so many young lives. â€œMy heart is broken over this violence. We have to do more to help our children, and weâ€™ve got to come outside of our churches and use all the resources we haveâ€¦.
â€œWe have educational, social and spiritual issues. Weâ€™ve got to figure out ways to attack these things and collaborate and work together to attack them not just the church but social and non-profit organizations,â€ said Brooks.
His message to the gangbangers who are killing the youth is simple. â€œI am going up on the roof to get them to stop killing one another. I am going up on the roof to show them someone does care about themâ€¦.â€
And, once he has razed the motel, he says there will be a new beginning at 6625 South Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive that will include building an educational facility that may be their Masterâ€™s Academy or a day care center, a social component that includes counseling services along with an economic arm that includes a chain restaurant, like Paneraâ€™s, small businesses and on the second through fourth floors condos.
While he currently has a contract to purchase the land, Brooks said it is presently owned by Venod Patel. Brooks negotiated the contract with Patel and two Chicago banks that hold the title to the land. The closing date is December 30, 2011, which is why Brooks is using the next 21-days starting today to raise $435,000 having put down $15,000 towards his goal.
â€œI will be calling different pastors, politicians, city officials to come up and do an interview on top of the motel to support what we are doing, and I will ask them to leverage their families, their friends, their circles of influence to give,â€ said Brooks.
And, his congregation is leading by example. â€œThe members of our church will be doing a campaign called â€˜Project Hood Helping Others Obtain Destinyâ€™ where each will ask their friends and family to support this financial campaign.
The campaign starts today and like Moses, Pastor Brooks said he is not coming down from the rooftop until his call for an end to violence and funding for his social and economic projects have been achieved.
Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host. You can e-mail Strausberg at: Chintabernie@aol.com.