The south side pastor who spent nearly three months atop a motel has a new, ambitious goal in mind: walking across the United States.
Pastor Corey Brooks said he plans to walk across the country along with his two sons and a crew of five to eight people. The journey will continue his mission to raise funds for his Project H.O.O.D. initiative to build a community center on Chicago’s south side and quell gun violence nationwide.
"I’m walking across the country starting in Times Square [in] New York City on June 5," Brooks said Thursday. "We should arrive here in Chicago hopefully around July 13 or 15 then on to Los Angeles, California to the Staples Center, so it’s going to be a long summer.”
Brooks said he is looking to eradicate violence in communities everywhere, adding that he and his team will call attention to gun violence one neighborhood at a time.
"I'm committed to getting rid of gun violence. I’m committed to making sure that young lives have an opportunity to live, to go on to graduate from high school and college and to pursue the American dream and get a family and do all the things we are supposed to do as American citizens," he said.
Brooks camped on the roof of an abandoned motel from December 2011 to February 2012 -- a total of 94 days -- in an effort to raise $450,000 to purchase the land and erect a community center.
After receiving several donations, the largest from actor-director Tyler Perry, Brooks reached his initial goal. But that was just phase one, he said. Building the center will cost upwards of $15 million.
Brooks said he is using Chicago as a model because he feels it's the worst city in the country as far as gun violence and gang violence.
"We feel that if we can do something to help the city of Chicago, then definitely it will help inner cities all across America," said Brooks.
Along the way, he's hoping to continue collecting money for the community center which will feature mixed-income housing, commercial space and the New Beginnings Church "Master Academy.'
"We are taking donations. That is part of the reason that we are walking: to raise the $15 million to build the community center," said Brooks.
He contends that he will take as long as it takes to raise the funds to build the center debt-free.
"One of the things that has our community in shambles are economic problems, and I don’t want to create an economic problem for our community by trying to pay for the center," he said.
A website has been created for those interested donating or joining Brooks and his team in there cross-country trek.