Corey Brooks to stay outside in fight against gun violence
Pastor Corey Brooks has spent the last 100 days camped outside, advocating for an end to the Woodlawn cycle of violence and raising funds for a community center. On Monday, he extended that campout indefinitely.
For 100 days, Pastor Corey Brooks has camped out atop eight storage containers. His goal was the same as when he sat on a decrepit motel 10 years ago: draw attention to the violence and poverty of Woodlawn.
Monday was supposed to be Brooks’ last day sleeping through the bitter cold at 6615 S. King Drive. Instead, Brooks announced he’d be extending his 100 Day Camp Out Against Gun Violence “indefinitely.”
“I have been feeling in my spirit for the last week or so, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t go down,’” Brooks explained. “I have a lot of hope that if I stay longer we can reach the mark.”
That mark is $35 million for an 85,000-square-foot resource center for community meetings, food distribution to those in need and even an education wing. So far, $10 million has been raised.
Despite the millions still needed, Brooks is staying positive.
“I can’t allow any negativity to come into my mind,” he said. “I was confident about raising it in 100 days, and I’m going to be just as confident that I’m going to raise it eventually. So it could be one day, it could be a week. It could be a month, it could be six months or a year. I don’t know. But I do know we’re gonna raise every single penny.”
Brooks, pastor at New Beginnings Church on South King Drive, said he hasn’t sought any specific city assistance, such as through Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Invest South/West Initiative, but has invited Chicago area CEOs to camp out with him.
Michael Paulsen, senior vice president of Lockton Companies; Thomas Jonas, CEO and co-founder of Nature’s Fynd; and Todd Ricketts, co-owner of the Cubs, were some of those that joined in on The CEO Challenge.
“We’ve been able to reach a sector of people that probably would not have supported the South Side of Chicago,” said Brooks.
Still, the extended campout comes at a cost. Brooks and his guests sleep in tents, cook their food over a fire pit and use space heaters for a reprieve from the bitter cold. He’s already missed important events, like the funeral for the wife of one of his church founders, and could potentially miss his two daughters’ birthdays in March and April.
“This is the burden,” said Brooks. “It can wear and tear on you.”
But he said he checks in with his own pastor and therapist every other week to stay “spiritually balanced.”
The effort will all be worth it in the end, he said.
“You can never do enough when kids are dying,” he said. “When individuals don’t have safe spaces that they can go to; when individuals don’t have opportunities to further their life, how much more should we all be doing?”
Donations for Brooks’ center can be made through projecthood.networkforgood.com.
Cheyanne M. Daniels is a staff reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times via Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster the paper’s coverage of communities on the South and West sides.