Center for Life Empowerment

The Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) of Fort Dodge has been in existence since 1909, and at its current location since 1914. The three-story building was originally designed to house permanent and transient women. With dorm style private housing throughout, residents shared kitchen, laundry, bath and lounge space. The building also included club rooms and a gymnasium with showers. Thirty-six rooms were available for rent by women coming into the community for education and employment.

YWCA programs and offerings have evolved with the changing needs and interests of women and girls in the area. Early classes and clubs involved “working girls.” The YWCA began the Fort Dodge Business and Professional Women's Club, the Fort Dodge Business Girl's Club, and the Young Adult Club. The woman's movement saw great participation by the Girl Reserves in Fort Dodge, and most notably the Black Girl Reserves. From their inception, YWCA programs have been visionary -- encouraging every woman and girl to perform at her maximum level to achieve self-sufficiency, maintain healthy habits, empower herself and work toward resolving racial justice issues.

From 1915 to 1943, the YWCA Cafeteria served three meals daily. The cafeteria continued serving meals until 1961. During its peak of operation, the YWCA Cafeteria was recognized as a social center for motorists and the traveling public. From the beginning, young people have utilized the gym for athletics, educational classes, and socializing. Younger children have benefited through dance instruction, summer camps, and weekend activities.

Today, the YWCA Center for Life Empowerment operates a Licensed Residential Treatment Center for women and children, and offers Intensive Outpatient and Extended Outpatient programs for women and men. We also offer Homeless Shelter and Transitional Housing services for women and children.

Today, the YWCA Center for Life Empowerment operates a Licensed Residential Treatment Center for women and children, and offers Intensive Outpatient and Extended Outpatient programs for women and men. We also offer Homeless Shelter and Transitional Housing services for women and children.

Support services are provided for those living in the facility. Parenting programs for young mothers, children’s programs, and fitness programs are also provided at this time for the public and YWCA members.

The YWCA has served thousands of women and children in its 100+ years in Fort Dodge, and will continue to serve for many years to come. People’s lives are affected by our presence every day through our substance abuse programming and homeless shelter services.