CHICAGO — After nearly a year of fundraising, Pastor Corey Brooks started construction on his South Side community center.

Ceremonial shovels went in the ground Saturday in Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood after Project H.O.O.D founder, Brooks, reached his campaign goal of $20 million.

“We have to have places so we can transform the lives of people, so we can keep all children safe,” Brooks said. “Every single child, regardless of color, deserves the right to grow up in a peaceful environment without being devastated by violence.”

For the past 11 months, the roof of the New Beginnings Church has been Brooks’s makeshift home. He has pushed through the cold weather, missed holidays and was near gunfire to raise money for the center.

“It has taken sacrifice to get to this point, but to see the community who are so happy about it and for it, it makes everything worth it,” he said. “It has been a blessing.”

The center is set to include classrooms, a gym, restaurants and more. It will take nearly two years until the center is completed.