Pastor Corey Brooks, who in the past few months was better known as the "rooftop pastor," is seeing his dream of taking down a motel that was a hotspot for crime in a Chicago neighborhood come true, as the building is set to be demolished in about two weeks.
Brooks, who leads New Beginnings Church, spent four months living atop the motel from November to February in hopes of bringing awareness to drug and violence problems in the neighborhood. The pastor's roof-in eventually paid off, as he managed to raise the $450,000 needed to demolish the motel.
During his months-long stay, Brooks only came down for funerals and to console victims – such as one instance in December in which he spent three hours consoling a mother whose teenage son had been killed in a drive-by shooting.
When actor and director Tyler Perry pledged to donate $98,000 to the cause (helped out by another $85,000 donation from an anonymous businessman), Brooks finally collected the full amount he needed to bring down the motel. Now, his long-term vision of building a new community center in its place, which would provide youths a chance to learn and develop skills for finding careers, is finally taking shape.
Now that Pastor Brooks can cover the cost of the motel demolition, his organization, Project H.O.O.D. (Helping Others Obtain Destiny), is accepting donations toward its goal of raising $15 million for the new community center. On Monday, members of the group came together with other Chicago-area pastors, students and elected officials to prepare the motel for demolition and take down the former drug den, NBC Chicago shared.
"I had a group that wanted to come. We had a week. They paid money to come pay work [sic], and in my mind that doesn't make sense, but in God's economy that works. So he brought us up here and here we are," explained Brent Corbin from the University of Tulsa.
"Fifteen million dollars is a lot of money but there are a lot of people with compassion and a lot of people who understand what we're trying to do and I have no doubt we're going to reach the goal," Brooks shared of his optimism about moving forward with his new vision of the neighborhood.
"I was impressed. I didn't think he was going to do it. But, look, he's doing it," Romel Collins, a neighborhood resident, told ABC News.
The motel is not scheduled for complete demolition until April 2, but for Brooks and other residents, the building no longer brings the same fears that it used to.
"It feels good to be part of something positive," Kenneth Hicks, another volunteer, said.