Jazz band raises money for disadvantaged

There was a mosh pit in a church on Nov. 14 to support Centre 507, a Centretown drop-in program that provides assistance to low-income residents, people with mental and physical disabilities and others in need in downtown Ottawa.  

Canadian jazz band BADBADNOTGOOD performed at Centretown United Church in an effort to raise money to support the outreach program housed in a space at the church property.  

Tickets were $20 and all proceeds from admission and band merchandise sold at the show went to help Centre 507. 

Since Centre 507’s funding was cut by more than 50 per cent seven months ago, the service has been struggling. Event organizer Linda Pollock said attendees were helping a pillar of the Centretown community stay in operation. 

“What I would say to those attending tonight is that the centre allows our participants to continue to have a community, to feel a part of something that’s theirs,” she said. “Participants have said to me over the years, ‘This is my home, this is my family.’ ”  

Centretown United Church Minister David Illman-White reiterated this point to the crowd before the show. 

“Centre 507 is vital to the Centretown community,” he said. “These are awesome people who are a major part of Centretown and are central the community and help make real change.”  

Alan Neal from CBC Radio was the event’s master of ceremonies. His opening remarks brought the energy in the church to a special level, where it stayed for the whole evening.  

Drummer Alexander Sowinski took over the microphone after Neal. He told the crowd that BADBADNOTGOOD normally plays in stand-up venues and that they shouldn’t be afraid to stand up and show some energy. 

Slowly but surely, the younger members of the crowd got out of their seats and moved to the front of the pews, near the stage area, where they remained for the duration of the show.  

The event took place just a day after the horrific Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris killed more than 120 people. The grim news from Europe made an already emotional event that much more powerful.

In between songs, Sowinski gave a shout out to Centre 507 volunteers and the crowd responded with tumultuous applause. He also reminded the audience that in times of sadness, such as the aftermath of the Paris attacks, people still need to get together and celebrate peace, music and love.  

“Taking place the day following the Paris attacks, a sense of community became the theme for the night,” said concert-goer Ross Williams. “The crowd had great energy and was really supportive of the music and the cause.” 

The event sold 545 tickets. So after the ticket sales there was 10,000 dollars raised to help Centre 507 that will be put to use immediately.  

“We really want to keep the centre open on Sunday afternoons, especially as the weather gets colder,” said Pollock. “In the past we’ve always had it open, but because of the funding cuts it’s a real stretch to keep it open.” 

The recreation program is a crucial initiative carried out by Centre 507. The program provides opportunities for participants to get out in the community and go to the beach, an art gallery, or experience a Redblacks or 67’s game. 

“We’re always scrambling for funds to be able to provide that kind of program, so some of the funds will go to that,” said Pollock.  

Restarting the life-management skills program, where participants learned about budgeting and healthy eating, or rehiring the two tenant- and housing-support workers, are long term goals of Centre 507, added Pollock.  

Centre 507 recently held one of its major annual fundraising events, the Oct. 23 Fall Fling, and isn’t expecting to hold further fundraisers until the new year.