Several residents shared things they like about their neighborhood. These included learning from elders, spending peaceful time in the park, and coming to the Community Center. Attendees also expressed concerns about the neighborhood, including gun violence; vacant and blighted properties; and a need for more positive activities and opportunities for youth.
Ralph Knighton, consultant with LISC Connecticut and former Sheldon Oak board member, told residents he was there to listen and that LISC would provide funding to support programs at the center. A resident who works for the Urban League offered to bring information on their programs the following Sunday.
José Quiñonez, the Sheldon Oak staff member who facilitated the discussion, offered to connect residents with employment opportunities and to assist them with the application process. “Employment is very important,” he said, sharing from his own experience. “Work gives you a purpose. It changes lives.”
Residents discussed various types of activities and resources they would like to see for children, youth, and adults at the community center. Many expressed interest in continuing to meet regularly.
The Johnson-Stewart Community Center, built by Sheldon Oak as part of the development of Northeast Hartford Affordable Housing, has recently been renovated. Community meetings are held every Sunday morning from 10:00 to noon, with refreshments served. Community meetings are open to all residents of Sheldon Oak properties in Northeast Hartford, as well as to other residents of the Northeast neighborhood. The facility is wheelchair accessible.