Support Project Hood For Our Youth This Holiday Season

I am writing about a remarkable friend. I am asking that during this holiday season you open your heart and pocketbooks to support Project Hood, the vision of Pastor Corey Brooks of New Beginnings Church, 6620 South King Drive. You can make a valuable donation by clicking here.

Let me share a story. Five years ago, Pastor Brooks told me he was sick and tired of looking at the crime and social ills just across the street from his church.

He was saddened and sick and tired of burying young teens that were being senselessly murdered by gun violence, either by police or young people killing each other. He said I am not supposed to be burying people under 21 years old dying from crime in the streets. He told me of the grief and how he tries to pastor to the families of the deceased.

Corey was the youth minister at Rev. James Meeks’ church before establishing New Beginnings. He went to live on the roof of an abandoned motel directly across the street from his church.

Those living arrangements brought much attention. His goal was simple – he wanted to raise enough money to demolish the building that was housing prostitution, drugs and other criminal activity. He wanted to end the obvious destruction in his community and saw the building coming down as a solution.

Project Hood can change lives with positive activity. The kids can come off the streets.

Corey lived in the cold wintertime on top of the building for 94 days until he raised the necessary $450,000 to knock the crime-ridden building down.

He appealed to his community, to his city and eventually the country, to help in a very dramatic way. He was crying out loud. I heard his cry. His ultimate goal was to build a community center that he calls Project Hood to house constructive activity for the youth in his community.

The community center will house classes for computer learning, entrepreneurship, basketball, swimming, classes for coding, art and a host of other afterschool type programs that will provide positive direction to kids who often go missed, lost and killed.

Brooks thinks his center will be transformational to the community. Project Hood can change lives with positive activity. The kids can come off the streets. But the philanthropic giving foundations don’t understand Corey’s mission of transformation. They don’t understand the issue of gang territory that prevents some children from going to the Y or the Girls and Boys Clubs.

On The Roof

I met Corey while he was living on the roof. I was a guest at radio station WVON one afternoon when we took a break to get a daily report from the “Pastor on the Roof.” I thought it was a joke. Immediately after the radio show, I drove to the site of the roof.

Pastor Corey Brooks on the roof of an abandoned motel directly across the street from his church.
Pastor Corey Brooks on the roof of an abandoned motel directly across the street from his church.

Corey indeed was on the roof on that cold winter day. I was lifted on a crane as I paid him a visit. I found a young sincere dedicated person living in a tent. I became interested in him. What was he eating? Was he warm enough? Was he exercising?

I found an amazing man, a real pastor dedicated and devoted to changing his community and providing a new way for youth, but with minimum resources. A big heart, great intellect and determination are his elements. He talks about Jesus.

Corey and I became friends. I called him daily while he was on the roof. I got him to blog about his experience. I took people on the roof – the Governor, the Mayor, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton, reporters from various mediums for live reports. I was concerned that Corey would be positioned as a nutty guy and his real purpose not properly conveyed.

Supporting the Republicans

When Bruce Rauner ran for Governor of Illinois, Pastor Brooks, Reverend James Meeks and I were visible supporters. Our collective thinking was that Democrats have taken the Black vote for granted long enough, with minimum results.

The war zone type communities we exist in are evidence of years of neglect from the Democrat Party. We thought it was time for a change because the resounding Black vote has not equated to the riches or the do the right thing from the Democrats.

I have preached to ministers for years – don’t let the politicians come visit your churches at election time, only to make an exodus until the next election. Ask for something. I am a one-woman conversation to the politicians at all levels.

Economic development, small business development, is what the Black community needs. Where is the investment fund? How about a Marshall Plan? Are you a politician with a memory? What do you propose Mr./Ms. Politician to develop the enterprise of the collective Black community?

(l to r) Hermene Hartman, Governor Bruce Rauner and Pastor Cory Brooks
(l to r) Hermene Hartman, Governor Bruce Rauner and Pastor Cory Brooks

This is my one note samba, my clarion cry to all political types. Rauner listened and agreed to be effective in these areas. We who supported him had no idea that the State of Illinois would come to a screeching halt because of lack of a budget going on for a year and a half now.

To step from the Democrat Party to a Republican candidate was a big step that caused controversy for all of us that did so. We have all had negative impacts for making our choice.

It is widely believed in the Black community that we were richly compensated for supporting Rauner. That is not the case. Corey’s church was burglarized and money was stolen. We have all been negatively affected financially.

Corey has been attacked every which away, media included. Recently, a columnist unfairly and unduly compared him to Kanye West. How unfair. The attacks are unfounded and are mean spirited for the sake of what I ask.

Give To Project Hood

During this holiday season, I am asking that you help Pastor Corey Brooks with a donation as he plans to build Project Hood, the community center that will help our youth.

Walgreens has just donated a building that used to house its store to this project under a lease that will be renewed every five years until the permanent facility is built. The Walgreens structure has to be converted to a community center, which means construction consideration.

Corey is engaging in a positive effort to save youth, to provide constructive activity for young people in our community. He is trying to get kids off the street. He is trying to beat the odds of danger that they encounter daily.

We cannot keep burying our youth like it is the norm. We cannot keep making excuses. The universities cannot keep studying poverty with documented reports that show mountains of discrepancy at every level. We cannot keep turning our heads. We cannot keep playing business as usual, as our churches continue to bury our young dead ones.

Corey did not attend a major event I hosted this year because he said he had three funerals that week, for three 17-year-old teens. He said he had to regroup, which meant pray and cry as they die. When I talk to Corey, I make sure that I am really upbeat and bring only positivity to him.

I am asking you to donate to Corey’s project, to give whatever you can. I am also asking the rich Republicans to write healthy checks for those who believed in you and took a giant step to support your political efforts.

Click Here To Support Project HOOD

Hermene Hartman

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