Pastor plans to camp outside for three months to raise money for Chicago child center

A Chicago pastor plans to camp outside for a three-month vigil in an effort to raise money for a child resource center in one of the city’s South Side neighborhoods, The Associated Press reported

Beginning last month, Rev. Corey Brooks started his 100-day “tent-a-thon” campout on a deck atop eight shipping containers on Chicago’s Southside, considered to be the city’s toughest neighborhood. 

Brooks said he will hold his campout until Feb. 28 to raise money to build a $35 million, 85,000-square-foot building called the Leadership and Economic Opportunity Center, saying he envisions the proposed center to be a safe space for kids in his neighborhood. 

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The proposed center will provide teen programming, a trauma center, sports facilities, a pool, and a schoolroom, according to the AP. 

Brooks added donors have raised or pledged $7 million to the center, with an additional $250,000 raised last week since he began his campout, according to his statement. 

In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Brooks said the proposed center is greatly needed in his community, citing the recent number of shootings in his neighborhood. 

“The shootings in Cook County are at an all time high since the ‘90s,” Brooks told the Times. “Our neighborhood really needs a place of transformation, a place where they can go and get all the things that they need to start trying to change their life. This center is really, really needed at this point in time.”

Brooks, the founder of and Senior Pastor of New Beginnings Church of Chicago, the latest initiative comes nearly a decade after he camped out on the roof of a shuttered motel for three months, raising money to raze and shut down the building, saying it was a hotbed to drugs and prostitution, The AP reported. 

Cook County, where Chicago is located, recorded more than 1,000 homicides in the 2021 calendar year, the most since the mid-1990s, The AP noted.