While Dubuque offers quite a few diverse resources, officials say spreading the word about what the city has to offer is the next step in connecting the community.
Queens for Peace member and Switching Places Foundation co-founder Dereka Williams said a lack of knowledge about available resources for minority populations remains a challenge in the city.
“A lot of people in the Black community, and I know from my own experience, don’t know what resources are available. And sometimes the process is not worth the outcome,” she said.
A new edition of the Dubuque Community Resource Guide now lists local places meeting diverse needs. Published through a partnership between Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque and Greater Dubuque Development Corp. and funded through John Deere Foundation, the guide can be found in English and Spanish.
The guide contains listings of community organizations, grocery options, hair and cosmetic businesses, health services and other resources for people from diverse backgrounds.
Community foundation Equity Coordinator Clara Lopez-Ortiz said having all these resources in one place streamlines the process of finding what a person needs. She added that she hopes to have the guide available in even more languages at some point, with Marshallese and Mandarin as possibilities.
While putting together the guide, Lopez-Ortiz said she asked many friends where they go for different services. She noted that she sometimes has a hard time finding a place for Mexican food, and she had an Afro-Latino friend who struggled to find a barber.
“Something that doesn’t seem like a big deal can make it not feel welcoming,” she said. “We want to build a community where they can feel safe.”
The guide includes Black-owned hair salons such as Beauty by Moke and Luxurious Hair Spa — establishments targeting a specific need in Dubuque.
“Dubuque has lacked that for as long as I’ve lived here,” Williams said. “It used to be hard for me to find stuff to take care of my hair. … A lot of women had to go out of town for products for their hair. Now, we have hair salons with those products.”
However, she said she didn’t know about the salons until a few months after opening, further highlighting the need to better broadcast resources.
Megan Ruiz, executive director of Presentation Lantern Center, said many people using the center’s services find it to be the most comfortable place to socialize. The center provides tutoring sessions to help people improve their English and study for the citizenship test.
“I think if we weren’t there, there would be a huge gap,” she said. “The next closest places are in Iowa City or Madison (Wis.). It would take people a lot longer to improve their English, and it would probably take people a lot longer to apply for and get citizenship.”
Williams said organizations such as the Switching Places Foundation also work hard to ensure people know about diverse community resources.
“Dubuque has a long way to go, but they’re doing a great job making the community more diverse,” she said.