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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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DUBUQUE COMMUNITY YMCA/YWCA VICTIM SERVICES SHELTER. In 2013 information suggested that an estimated three to four million women in the United States would be subjected to physical abuse by a partner, with one in every four women experiencing domestic violence in her lifetime. Domestic violence was the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the United States.

Originally called New Beginning Domestic Violence Shelter, the single shelter in Dubuque sponsored by the the YOUNG WOMEN'S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION (Y.W.C.A.) provided emergency safe shelter and confidential services for any abused women and all her children. The shelter educated the women with life skill training, goal setting and assistance with referral services. It was also a crisis intervention for any children who had witnessed domestic violence. The shelter was operated daily and all services were free. Victims could reside in the shelter for thirty days. (1) The shelter was under 24-hour watch with its location kept secret. TERESA SHELTER and MARIA HOUSE offered temporary emergency shelter for homeless women and women and transition, but sent domestic violence cases to the shelter.

During the summer of 2013, financial support for the shelter was drastically changed. The Iowa Attorney General restructured domestic violence services throughout Iowa. Costs of providing services support was high averaging $375 per client. In July, all domestic violence abuse state funding including federal crime funding, was removed from all but six domestic abuse shelter in the State of Iowa. Only the largest were allowed to continue receiving funding.

With the Dubuque shelter dependent upon state funding for nearly half of its budget, victims in Dubuque were faced with traveling to Waverly, Iowa. (2)

Sister Charla Bulko, the head of the shelter, pleaded the need for the shelter to the board of the YMCA/YWCA. The board chose to be responsible for the operation of the shelter. Grants and fundraisers were planned.

In Dubuque, the Y's Victim Services Shelter provides served more than 140 people annually. Budget cuts in 2013 made it difficult to exist. In 2017 a $20,000 grant was received from the Mary Kay Foundation. The money was to be used for upkeep on their aging building. They also planned to purchase items needed by those seeking help in their shelter. (3)



1. "Domestic Violence Shelter," The Y, Online: http://www.dubuquey.org/programs/domestic-violence-shelter/

2. Brown, Ellen Gallogly. "Victim Shelter Survives: The Dubuque Community YMCA/YWCA Victim Services Shelter," Julien's Journal.

3. Hanson, Brad. "Dubuque Domestic Violence Shelter Receives $20,000 Grant," November 16, 2017, KWWL.com. Online: http://www.kwwl.com/story/36857983/2017/11/16/dubuque-domestic-violence-shelter-receives-20000-grant