December 2, 2011
In relation to Mike G. Story, Mike is having an art exhibition and sale on Dec. 8, 2011 at ROM!
Be sure to sure support this guy!
All links below leads to the Exhibition and sale and a description of the artist profile!
November 18, 2011
More than 30 men at Centre 507 are taking part in a Movember prostate cancer campaign. Movember is a men’s health movement where men grow moustaches for the month of November to raise awareness and money for prostate cancer research. One in every seven men develop prostate cancer at some point in their lives.
“Prostate cancer is a common illness at the Centre because we have a large population of men. So many of our participants chose to jump at the chance of giving back to their communities and to help in the fight against an illness that will affect so many of us,” says Joshua Bridges the Centre 507 Participant Employee Program Supervisor.
The Centre Movember team has already raised close to $1,000. To support the Centre 507 campaign, donate online on our Movember page and click on “donate to team” or you can download the donation form and drop it off at 507 Bank St.
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October 27, 2011
Centre 507 welcomes new executive director
Shea Kiely says her love of taking on new challenges is a big reason she finds herself in her new role as executive director at Centre 507. A North Bay native, Shea has spent the last seven years in social services helping people overcome daunting challenges. Her commitment and drive to learn from these experiences put her at the top of the list of candidates for the job.
Shea’s commitment to participants shows in the little things, like a friendly smile, and in the big things, like making presentations to city hall, as well as in her ideas for expanding the Centre’s services.
Shea started working at Centre 507 in 2008 in the Drop-in Program, eventually moving to the Rooming House Support Program. She also filled in as acting executive director on several occasions, so she knows what makes the Centre tick.
“It’s all about respect and getting to know people so you can build a rapport with them. We’re like comrades in a homey, close-knit community,” Shea says. “You have to respect what a lot of our participants face every day just to get by. Their resilience is amazing.”
Shea’s experience at the Centre also means she knows the team of staff she will be leading. Going from co-worker to boss might be a tricky proposition, but the Centre 507 team is expecting to benefit from Shea’s history with the Centre.
“The fact that Shea was acting executive director means we won’t miss a beat. I’m excited about some of the plans for things that we already have in place, like our employment program, that Shea will be able to push through,” says Josh Bridges, a support worker at the Centre. With Shea’s help, Josh is working to establish better links between the Centre’s employment program and the YMCA’s employment program. The aim is to allow participants to graduate from the Centre’s program and find even more meaningful work through the YMCA.
Shea plans to take this kind of collaborative approach with all the staff. “Together, we are going to focus on ideas that will build on our success. We want to do things like expand our harm-reduction programs for substance abuse and improve the Centre’s kitchen. The staff and their ideas will be key to all the plans we bring to the Centre board for approval,” Shea says.
While big plans may end up defining Shea’s impact on the Centre, her ability to connect with people has already won her fans among participants.
“She is a good person and she really knows how to make things work to help people,” says Dennis, a longtime participant at Centre 507.
February 16, 2011
Within the community of men and women who frequent drop-ins and live in rooming houses, shelters or on the street, there are some you may have met in galleries or museums if life had happened more gently. They are artists. They are artists often without paper or canvas, paint or pencil, camera or carving tools.
A source of dignity and meaning in life
To be an artist is not merely to have an interest or even a talent. It is an integral and defining aspect of who one is. The lack of an outlet for artistic expression can be painful, especially for those already shunted to the outer edges of society. It can rob the person of dignity and a sense of meaning in life.
Equipped studio space
A joint effort of Centretown United Church and Centre 507, the Artistic Expressions project aims to provide an equipped studio space to artists in our community who are living with serious challenges.
This project will offer our participants the dignity of being recognised as artists, a safe and friendly place to practice their art, and contact with local artists as colleagues and mentors.
How it will work
Participating men and women will be given a membership entitling them to free access to the studio space and supplies during fixed hours of operation. Coffee and snacks will create a friendly atmosphere and encourage interaction. To be housed in the former chapel of Centretown United Church, the studio will initially be open twice a month for three to four hours, starting in March 2011.
Established artists to help out
Plans include inviting established artists to the studio to serve as a bridge between our members and the larger artistic community. The guest artists will encourage and mentor participants both informally and through regularly scheduled workshops.
As of early February, about $5,000 had been raised for the project: a $2,500 Seeds of Hope grant from the United Church, $500.contributions from Centretown United’s Mission and Outreach Committee and the United Church Women’s Group, and about $2,000 from the sale of pews from the chapel. Thanks to these contributions, the Artistic Expressions Working Group is now developing a plan to start transforming the space. Lisa Thomas, who is in charge of the Arts Program at Glebe St. James, has already sketched some working drawings for us to begin reconfiguring the chapel space. Another grant application to the United Church of Canada is being prepared.
How you can help
This ambitious project has the potential to change lives. But it will depend on a team of volunteers and an ongoing supply of art materials. We will need people to help in the studio and behind the scenes as we contact local artists, search out art supplies and get the word out on the streets.
If this project speaks to you, and you feel you would like to contribute to it in some way, please contact Centretown United’s Minister, the Rev. David Illman-White, at 613-232-9854 or Contact the Minister. Or, you can contact the Manager of Centre 507, Caroline Ann Giekes, at 613-233-5626 or Contact the manager
December 13, 2010
The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto featured a photo by Mike Gericke, a Centre 507 participant, as part of an exhibit organized by Touched by Fire, which calls itself “the art show you have to be crazy to enter.”
“I was so happy to be selected for the show. My picture Ottawa River Ice sold the same day the exhibition opened,” Gericke said.
Touched by Fire is a program to stimulate and celebrate work created by artists with mood disorders. It’s sponsored by the Mood Disorders Association of Ontario. Famous names from art history like Michelangelo, van Gogh and Georgia O’Keefe didn’t let mood disorders get in the way of their art, and neither is Gericke.
Known as Mikey G to his friends at Centre 507, he suffers from an anxiety disorder and epilepsy. He couldn’t make the trip to be at the ROM unveiling. So, Centre 507 held a vernissage for him on November 25.
“I ran a slideshow at Centre 507. After the show I was floating on air,” Gericke said. The vernissage wasn’t the only highlight for Gericke. That same day he appeared on CBC Radio’s All in Day to talk about his work and the ROM show. (Listen to the interview)
There are also plans for an Ottawa Citizen article over the holidays and TVO has been in touch about Gericke’s Graffiti Knitters project.
Graffiti knitting, also known as yarn bombing, is an urban phenomenon where anonymous knitters cover things like bike racks with brightly coloured knitting. (See Gericke’s graffiti knitters photos and more of his work)
Gericke has also contributed to Centre 507 in a variety of ways, including providing the photographs for the Centre’s website. It’s just one way that Gericke is giving back to a place that he says has given him so much support since he first discovered it after visiting the food bank in the basement of Centretown United Church. “I never thought I could promote my art through Centre 507 until I met Margaret,” he said.
Margaret Johnson is the In-Centre Life Management Skills Worker. Learning life skills helps participants contribute to their community. It also builds self-esteem and a desire to reach for a brighter future.
Gericke has big plans for his future, and he isn’t taking his success for granted. “I want to do more architecture and landscape photos, and one of these days I’d like to take a photo course.”
Edited on June 7, 2011
Read about it from Ottawa Citizen
February 10, 2010
FROM COFFEE AND CONVERSATION TO OUTREACH AND SOCIAL SERVICES
Centre 507 got its start when some astute members of the McLeod-Stewarton United Church – now Centretown United Church – noticed people lingering after their visit to the food bank. They would stand around chatting. Rather than ask them to move on, these first volunteers brought in a couple of couches, put the coffee pot on and joined the conversation.
Centre 507 was born.
This summer, Margaret Johnson, Centre 507’s life skills worker, addressed a joint service of the Centretown and Dominion Chalmers United Church congregations. Some of the people in attendance were there at the birth of Centre 507; others were learning about it for the first time. Everyone was impressed by Johnson’s recounting of how the centre has grown over the years.
From a few couches, a coffee pot and some dedicated volunteers, the centre now relies on a staff of social workers and an army of volunteers. Our in-centre support staff help our participants with everything from searching for housing or employment opportunities to accessing social services and seeing them through crisis situations. Participants can also join our life skills program and put together a concrete plan to grow and improve their lot in life.
And the centre doesn’t end at its front door.
Our outreach team is on the street six days a week seeking out men and women who live in alleys, doorways, stairways, under bridges – wherever they can find shelter. The outreach team covered a large area on foot and on bikes this year, carrying huge backpacks filled with snack packs and other supplies.
Our rooming house outreach worker and her partner from The Well, a drop-in centre for women, have a caseload of 45 people who have been successful in keeping their housing through an entire year.
“Yes, we still help people feed themselves, find housing and prepare to find work, and we help them to connect with education and training opportunities,” Margaret says. “But then we have to go beyond the basics and look at the whole person and the direction they’re headed in. That is essential if we truly want our participants to move toward a more fulfilling, constructive and satisfying life”.
Centre 507 is still all about coffee and conversation, but it is also about so much more.
February 10, 2010
Delicious bread is always on the menu at Centre 507 thanks to the French Baker at 801 Bank Street in the Glebe.
“The French Baker has been delivering a bag, or two, or three, of bread every day. This saves us from buying 50 to 60 loaves of bread each week. Not only that, the quality of the bread is so good that I’m sure it has had an impact on our participants’ health”, says Caroline Anne Giekes, Centre 507 manager. “They called us out of the blue and offered to help. It’s so nice to have their support as well as their delicious bread”.
February 10, 2010
PARTICIPANT PROFILE: Steve Robinson
A LIFE MANAGEMENT SKILLS “GRADUATE”
Steve Robinson could be called a graduate of Centre 507’s Life Management Skills program, which recently had its funding renewed. He credits the program’s workshops on managing time, stress and anger with helping him get accepted into the culinary program at The Mission. Steve has also worked as a paid participant in the kitchen at Centre 507.
“I consider Centre 507 to be my launching pad”, said Steve, before starting the culinary program in March. “I’m a little nervous because I haven’t always done well in school, but it’s a great opportunity”.
The Mission’s culinary program involves six months of chef training, learning everything from recipes and knife handling, to safe food preparation and storage, to the business side of running a restaurant.
“My coming to Centre 507 has put me on this path. It’s been a great help and a great blessing,” Steve said.
March 23, 2008
WORLDS COLLIDED IN A GOOD WAY when Darrell Graham, owner of a high-end Bank Street fabric shop, recently donated a dozen handmade aprons to Centre 507.
Centre 507 and Darrell Thomas Textiles cater to different crowds. His shop features high-end fabrics, soft music, a black leather couch, original paintings and over 50,000 buttons.
The aprons were made by some of Darrell’s customers, who get together monthly with him to “stitch and bitch,” as he puts it with a smile. Each of the aprons features different fabrics and patterns, from plain denim and khaki, to a maple leaf motif, to a barnyard scene. Making the aprons took only an hour or so for the skilled sewers, but Darrell says that the feeling of helping out was “amazing.” And the aprons certainly come in handy, both for regular 507 kitchen duty and in the Centre’s cooking classes.
The cooking classes are part of a series of life skills sessions that build participant self-esteem and help them move forward in their lives and, sometimes, even careers.
Even though his shop is only about 10 blocks down Bank Street from the Centre, Darrell hadn’t heard of the place until 507 staff member Dan Lalonde dropped in with a copy of Five-O-Seven News. Darrell read it carefully, noting that the newsletter’s wish list for donations, which included aprons, was pretty modest.
Darrell also mentioned the contribution to Centre 507 in his e-newsletter, which goes to about 350 of his clients. “This really speaks to the power of community,” said Centre 507 manager Caroline Ann Giekes. “By spreading the word about his donation to Centre 507 and the work we do, Darrell has brought us to the attention of so many more people.”
December 17, 2007
HATS OFF TO CENTRE 507 AND RAISING THE ROOF
When you buy a Raising the Roof toque you’ll warm up on the outside and feel good on the inside, because you will be helping Centre 507 meet a fundraising target of $15,000. Centre 507 is the local representative for the 2008 Raising the Roof campaign to reduce homelessness.
Selling toques is at the heart of a national campaign that has raised over $2.5 million across Canada since 1996. The Centre will earn $8 for every $10 toque sold. Raising the Roof is Canada’s only national charity dedicated to long-term solutions to homelessness.
This year, the goal is to sell 75,000 toques across the country. Canadians are asked to wear the toques proudly on Toque Tuesday, February 5.
Centre 507 is planning a variety of events in Ottawa leading up to and beyond Toque Tuesday. From stalls in malls to celebrities and politicians making a pitch, look out for yourchance to buy a toque and help reduce homelessness in Ottawa and across Canada.
“The campaign has local roots. City councillors participate in Toque Tuesday. And dozens of local businesses and organizations are ready to continue to offer their support,” says Caroline Ann Giekes, the manager of Centre 507.
Across the country, Canadians sporting the toques will be joined by politicians and celebrities, including Rick Mercer, as well as Don Ferguson and Roger Abbott from the CBC’s Air Farce comedy show. Halifax and Toronto will alsohost comedy nights in the spring featuring Sean Cullen and others.
Corporate sponsors include Bank of Montreal, Canadian Tire, City of Ottawa Non-Profit Housing Corporation, Coca Cola, Direct Energy, Home Depot, Global Television and Royal Bank of Canada. To find out more about supporting the campaign by buying a toque, selling them to your friends and co-workers, or volunteering your time, contact Matthew Bonsall at email@example.com.