Brian Zhang, Contributing Photographer

Since its ribbon-cutting ceremony in early November, the Dixwell Q-House has been in the process of supporting and funding various types of programming for its community members.

Members of the Q-House Advisory Board shared updates on such programming in a Monday evening meeting. Much of the Q-House’s work is overseen by Leadership, Education & Athletics in Partnership, a local youth mentorship and tutoring organization, which was able to secure a $300,000 contract with the city to run the Q-House. Among the community leaders and representatives at Monday night’s webinar and Q&A panel were LEAP Chief of Staff Yakeita Robinson, Ward 22 Alder Jeanette Morrison, Q-House youth director Elsa Holahan and Chair of the Governance Committee Jackie Downing. 

“The Q-House will represent and empower the African American and Black community and its voices,” Robinson said. “This will be a space for educational, intellectual, entrepreneurial and artistic growth. It will also be a space for physical and mental wellness.”

Robinson emphasized an interdisciplinary approach to the programming offered at the Q-House — across various age groups. Fitness classes, for example, will be available to ages 16 and up, taking place on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Art classes will be open to the youth on Tuesdays and to adults on Thursdays. Capoeira will be available to both youth and adults on Saturdays and Thursdays, while yoga and meditation will be available to all ages on Saturdays. All of these classes, which will operate on a five-week cycle and be offered at no cost to the community, are currently scheduled to start on March 7, according to Robinson. Robinson did mention that classes might be offered at a “low cost” in the future, however. Due to COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing guidelines, many of the programs will be capped at 15 people, with the exception of the cooking class — which will support fewer participants due to the kitchen’s limited capacity. 

LEAP will support more than just recreational activities. Robinson cited ongoing conversations with the Yale New Haven Hiring Initiative, a partnership that assists residents in writing resumes and gaining professional certification. While visiting the Q-House, residents will also be able to access Toni N. and Wendell C. Harp Historical Museum, where Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro recently posthumously awarded Judge Constance Baker Motley a Congressional Gold Medal for her efforts pioneering the Civil Rights movement. 

Robinson thanked the community partner organizations that make these activities and services possible, including Stetson Library, the New Haven Police Department and the New Haven Senior and Health Centers. The Q-House also plans on supporting an autism walk in the near future, as well as work with poets at Influence a Life to provide public spoken word opportunities at the building. 

“So the big question that I’m asked all the time — how do you sign up?” Morrison asked, citing confusion among residents as to how program scheduling and building accessibility will proceed in the coming months.  

According to Robinson, all community members who had attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony will be alerted of the opportunity to register for events and programming via a soon-to-come email flyer. The email will contain a direct link to a website application, where locals can register for programs that interest them while being able to see the number of remaining spots available. Robinson also mentioned that access to the building will only be granted to those who have registered to one of the offered programs, to fully vaccinated individuals if above 16 years of age, or to those who have made a special appointment with LEAP to book a specific section of the Q-House. 

Toward the end of the meeting, the current Q-House advisory board approved nominations for slate members of the 2022 fiscal year: Jeanette Morrison for chairman, Frank Douglass for vice chairman, Jorge Perez for treasurer and Gwen Williams for parliamentarian. This new board, along with members of the former board, participated in a strategic planning “retreat” organized by Fio Partners, the building’s consultant group, to outline the “cultural” aspects to be included and highlighted in the mission of the new Q-House.

“We were split into break out rooms and discussed future programming, the importance of acknowledging the [Q-House]’s Black history, and reflections on the community survey that was released as a part of the strategic plan,” Holahan wrote to the News.

To assess community satisfaction and gauge feedback for improvement, LEAP plans to release surveys to visitors of the Q-House at the end of a class cycle. 

BRIAN ZHANG
Brian Zhang covers COVID-19 and Yale New Haven Health, as well as housing and homelessness. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, he is a student in Davenport majoring in English and creative writing.