Located at Centretown United Church, Centre 507 might not be highly visible to passersby but the work they do definitely shows in the community they serve. Run by a team of dedicated staff and volunteers, Centre 507 is an adult drop-in centre and support service that has been helping individuals deal with issues such as homelessness, poverty, unemployment and mental and physical health concerns since 1983.
Centre 507 is a safe place to connect with outreach workers from a variety of health care services and is a partner of SITE – the program whose aim is to help reduce risks associated with substance abuse. It’s also a place to drop in for a hot meal, to get some TLC for clothes in need of mending and to get advice on writing a resume and applying for jobs.
Most of all though Centre 507 is a place for participants, many of whom face obstacles in making meaningful connections, to become part of a community. Folks can meet up with friends for a game of backgammon, for a friendly chat over coffee or to create a work of art at the Centre’s Artistic Expressions Studio. The studio itself is run by professional artists and supplies participants with the canvases, brushes and paints they need to create their works of art.
Centre 507’s funding comes from a variety of sources including the City of Ottawa and the Province of Ontario: unfortunately a recent reprioritization that emphasizes a housing-first approach over street outreach has resulted in a 54% cut back to their overall budget.
The result has been the elimination of three of the Centre’s programs: one an outreach team that connected with people living in the streets; another providing support to residents of downtown rooming houses and the third a program designed to improve participants’ general life skills.
Despite these setbacks the Centre remain optimistic about their ability to raise funds in different ways.
Case in point: the upcoming BADBADNOTGOOD (BBNG) benefit concert taking place November 14th at Centretown United Church. Led by MC Alan Neal (host of CBC’s All in a Day) the night will see the Polaris-prize nominated trio turning up the heat with their unique blend of funk, soul, hip-hop and jazz. Proceeds go towards supporting the Centre’s general operations with a portion specifically allocated towards the Artistic Expressions Studio.
As a bonus, the Studio artists’ work will be on exhibition this weekend- it’s a chance for the participants to share their work and for visitors to get a sense of the program they’re supporting by attending the concert. The opening night for the exhibit is Thursday November 12th at 6:00pm and the artwork will continue to be on view Friday evening and then again on Saturday before and after the concert.
Tickets for the concert are $20 and are available at Compact Music (both locations); Top of the World, Vertigo Records, Leading Note (on Elgin, above the Manx), and at the door.
You can find out more about the concert, the centre and other ways to give here. Plus tune in to chuo.fm Tuesday night at 6:00pm to hear my interview with organizers Linda Pollock and Irene van de Lagemaat.