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From “O block” to “Opportunity block”: construction of the south side community center is underway

CHICAGO — The road to New Beginnings Church is about to expand with help from Project Hood, transforming an old motel into a community center.

Along King Drive at 66th Street, Pastor Corey Brooks once transformed an old skating rink into what is now New Beginnings Church along King Drive at 66th Street.

“I have to tell you; emotions are strong. Everyone is really excited and I am extremely grateful and grateful,” said Pastor Brooks.

Pastor Brooks began his journey more than 15 years ago to reinvent the stretch of King Drive near the infamous “O-Block,” dubbed by the Sun-Times in 2014 as “Chicago’s most dangerous.”

“We wanted to change that, and we changed it,” he said.

Project Hood, a nonprofit dedicated to ending violence and providing opportunity on the South Side, purchased the old motel across the street and demolished it.

“The old motel is now gone and a large community center is being built,” Brooks said.

The vision for the center is filled with activity, job training, retail and hope.

“We decided to keep the O but change it to Opportunity Block and that’s what we’re trying to do is create opportunities for families and for young people so that they can finally achieve and do something something different in their lives,” Pastor Brooks said.

Pastor Brooks made national headlines for camping on the roof of this motel for months to raise needed funds in 2012 and last year on the roof of the church.

He also traveled the country on foot to raise awareness of the project.

The McCormick Foundation has donated $8 million to the cause and is expected to launch this next spring.

A celebration will begin Monday morning as construction crews arrive and work begins on the six-story, nearly 90,000-square-foot building.

“It will bring great pride to our community to let them know that we have not neglected them in any way to ensure we bring them excellent facilities,” Pastor Brooks said.

NBC Chicago

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