Sharing Smiles: Dubuque Dream Center
While the COVID-19 pandemic has created frustration, fear, and significant change in our daily lives, many people are working to find the silver lining in our quarantined lifestyles. We’re witnessing individuals and communities stepping up to help our neighbors and friends work through this new normal. At Delta Dental of Iowa, we call these extraordinary actions and responses #AuthenticallyIowan – people and organizations staying true to their values and working toward a bigger purpose than their own success.
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, public and private organizations in Iowa quickly assessed the greatest needs in our communities. At Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation, we opened a grant program on March 23 for Iowa nonprofits to fund $500,000 to address food security or vital health services for children and vulnerable populations. The response was tremendous with the bulk of the nearly 300 applications received in just one week.
Many of these organizations serve as a critical safety net for populations such as older adults, homeless, individuals with disabilities, and communities of color. In all, a total of $500,000 was granted to 128 organizations. Over the next several weeks, we’ll highlight stories from around the state of these #AuthenticallyIowan nonprofits.
The first profile is the Dubuque Dream Center, a nonprofit community outreach organization committed to advancing Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream of transforming communities by embracing, empowering, and unifying all community members. The Dream Center works to mobilize and engage disconnected youth and families through “In Your Life” mentoring, arts, music and sports programs.
Faced with programming being cancelled due to COVID-19, the Dream Center quickly shifted to providing grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches to children and families living in the downtown Dubuque community. Grants from Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation and the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque allowed the expansion to lunch, dinner, and snacks to community members. The Dream Center has served more than 15,000 meals since March 23.
“Due to COVID-19, we have closed our programs and canceled our spring banquet that is a large source of our funding that pays for our staff,” said Robert Kimble, executive director of the Dream Center. “These grants allowed us to expand our meal program as well as pay for some of our operating costs. Many families we serve live in the food desert of downtown Dubuque and do not have adequate transportation or access to a nearby grocery store. These meals are truly serving the health and wellbeing of our community.”
Founded in 2013, the Dream Center presently serves over 90% minority students and families living in poverty and serves more than 190 youth in grades K-12. The Dream Center’s strategy to impact youth and strengthen families — begins with their In Your Life Mentoring model. This program connects caring adults to impact academic and character development outcomes of youth.
We thank the Dream Center for quickly pivoting to address food insecurity needs during the pandemic and for its #AuthenticallyIowan service to the youth of Dubuque. For more information and to donate to help the Dream Center reach more children and families in Dubuque, visit the website.