CHICAGO (CBS) — The Rev. Courtney Caruthers left a quiet life in Central Illinois to take on a big mission in Chicago’s West Pullman neighborhood – an area hit hard by crime and job loss.
The church pastor told CBS 2’s Jim Williams he is up for the challenge.READ MORE: 'An Important Time For Us': Chicagoans Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month
Two years ago, Caruthers – born and raised in California and then the pastor of a church in Champaign-Urbana – took a job at 128th Street and Lowe Avenue in West Pullman.
Williams: “Did you have any trepidation about coming to this community from Champaign-Urbana?”
Caruthers: “Actually, I did.”
Williams: “Tell me about that.”
Caruthers: “My concern was as any other person’s concern – the crime, the lack of civility amongst some community members, ignoring laws.”
But the new pastor of the Colonial Village Church of Christ saw an opportunity in West Pullman – a community where poverty and disinvestment are widespread, but so is community pride – reflected in the well-maintained homes of longtime residents.
“There’s still hope, in that there are people trying to uphold the standard of the community,” Caruthers said.
In the church basement, volunteers were preparing to distribute food and school supplies when CBS 2 visited. There will be a massive giveaway on Saturday – a signal to the community that they care.READ MORE: Downtown Chicago Roadblocks Quell Mexican Independence Day Street Celebrations
“The biggest message is moral support,” Caruthers said. “You still have churches, city leaders, community leaders to engage our youth; to engage parents; to know we’re here to help.”
Colonial Village Church is a small church – with only 80 registered members. But it is a focal point in this community and has the support of many non-church members.
When we asked to speak to neighbors Wednesday morning, a long line walked over to our camera.
“I would never give up.,” said community leader Annette Cain. “I’ll say to my dying day, I’ll still be doing what I’m doing now – until the Lord says ‘Hey, that’s enough.’”
Why does Cain have such commitment in West Pullman?
“I’m tired of moving. I’m tired of moving,” she said. “Why do we have to continue to move when we have to make that change in our community?”
And now, it is Pastor Caruthers’ community.
“We wanted to give back to the community and let them know we’re here for them,” he said.MORE NEWS: 'We're Back': Store Owner Reopens Chicago Sports On Michigan Avenue After 2020 Unrest
The church is passing out food and school supplies this Saturday at 128th Street and Lowe Avenue from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. They are accepting donations.