CHICAGO — Leaders with the organization ‘To Walk In My Shoes‘ joined a group with big plans for a sprawling building in the West Side’s Austin neighborhood.

“They said enough is enough and so they put together a collaboration,” said State Representative La Shawn Ford. “To buy this big, old building to help the people on the West Side of Chicago.”

To Walk In My Shoes Co-Founder Marnell Brown said the building, located in the 4700 block of West Madison Street, will bear a special name as a way to continue celebrating Black history.

“We all know this is Black History Month,” Brown said. “And we’re sitting on Mandela Road and we’re doing this in honor of Nelson Mandela.”

To Walk In My Shoes works on a number of issues, from violence prevention to COVID-19 testing. The non-profit also helps people dealing with substance abuse disorders, and is engaged in fighting HIV and AIDS.

With the purchase of the new building in the Austin, To Walk In My Shoes hopes to expand their resources to reach more people in a community facing a range of challenges.

“We want to bring a safe environment,” said Malcolm Brown, a community activist. “On our street corners, we want to be able to encourage them that anything is possible. I was once there. I was once homeless, and now I’m not.”