Something to look forward to

Friday 8 July 2022

The Ozanam Learning Centre provides a welcoming environment for all comers to gain skills and express themselves.

For Heather, a regular to the service in recent years, the meaning the place carries can be explained in the simplest of terms.

“It gives you something to look forward to every week.”

Growing up in Adelaide before moving to Sydney by way of Melbourne, Heather’s life changed dramatically when an MRI scan revealed a diagnosis that forced her onto a disability pension.

Subsequently, coming into contact with the Ozanam Learning Centre before the onset of coronavirus, Heather’s initial involvement in art classes offered at the Woolloomooloo precinct slowly turned into something more after a chance interaction with Omar, the OLC’s music coordinator, piqued her musical curiosity.

“Omar was playing the guitar on the reception, I was also playing guitar, and he asked, ‘Do you want to sit in with the band?’

“I’d been here a couple of years and I’d never even come up the stairs into the band room.”

Having grown up around music, with her father performing in orchestras, while also briefly studying opera for a year in her youth, her involvement with the band reignited an interest that took shape through a song writing course.

“I would write heaps of words down on a page, but I didn’t know how to put them in a structure. I didn’t know what a verse, chorus or melody was either before I joined the band.

“When I went to the song writing class, I didn’t have anything because I didn’t know what I was supposed to bring.

“Everybody had their songs written down, I said to Omar and Murray, ‘You guys play the guitar and the words will come out of me.’

“That’s how it all began.”

Contributing the song ‘Narrow Road’ to “SongBirds” an album of original music written and recorded by members of the Ozanam Learning Centre community, Heather is also responsible for designing the cover art for the album.

With the impact of COVID disrupting the day-to-day activities offered at the OLC over the past two years, Heather is looking forward to returning to the “family environment” of the service on a regular basis.

“The OLC has been really good, when COVID dies down, I’ll be coming here almost every day again – I like the place.”

The St Vincent de Paul Society NSW, in partnership with the Community Restorative Centre, has released SongBirds, an album of original music written and recorded by members of the Ozanam Learning Centre community.

SongBirds is available to stream/purchase on bandcamp.