Chicago pastor to spend 3 months living on shipping containers to raise $30M for Woodlawn center

"It generates attention, brings awareness and helps people understand what we are doing," Pastor Corey Brooks said.
CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Chicago pastor is planning to spend the next several months living on top of storage containers as part of his effort to bring a new community center to the city's South Side.

The top of the empty shipping containers sitting in a parking lot will be home for Pastor Corey Brooks for the next three months - for the holidays, and for the winter.

"It definitely generates attention, it brings awareness and it also helps people understand what we are doing," Brooks said.

He's trying to raise some $30 million to build a community center on property in the economically challenged Woodlawn community.

It's worked in the past. Ten years ago, he spent 94 days on the roof of the crime-infested motel that used to sit on his property across the street from his church. He raised $450,000 to tear it down and buy the property.

This time, he needs much more than that now, but the impact of what he wants to do, he said, will also be much greater.

"It's gonna be a safe haven, it's going to be a place of transformation, of life change," Brooks said. "That's what our community really needs."

He's also recruiting business people, celebrities and students to join him on the roof for part of the time.

Kayne Grau, CEO of data analytics company Uptake, plans to join Brooks for the first night next Saturday.

"I have an understanding of what it is right now, but it's going to be even more enlightening to spend time with him overnight and then come back down with a completely different perspective on what this all means," Grau said.

The center Brooks has plans for includes job training centers, recreational spaces, music and restaurants. It would also provide hundreds of jobs to the community.

"Businesses are leaving every single day, so it's important that we get an economic base in the community, it's important that we get entrepreneurs started back up," Brooks said. "We need this center. It's urgent."

Brooks said he has several financial commitments, but he's going to need a lot more. He said he doesn't know where they'll come from, but he does have faith that it will happen.
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