The June heat didn't stifle the camaraderie nor the mission that accompanied Riverview Center's ribbon cutting/open house this week. In fact, it might've given people an even greater reason to take a run through the sprinkler, indulge in some ice cream, and learn about the organization's invaluable services.

Riverview Center's beautiful facility on Elm Street in Dubuque received a warm welcome from community leaders, local professionals, and locals alike. Boasting free ice cream (courtesy of some hardworking individuals from Vesperman Farms), sidewalk games, and information, it was an all-ages event difficult to miss if you were in the vicinity.

Several booths at Riverview Center's open house. Photo Credit: Steve Pulaski
Several booths at Riverview Center's open house. Photo Credit: Steve Pulaski
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Riverview Center works with victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. They know better than anyone that there's no template you can hamfist on one person's experiences. Recovery looks and feels different for each individual. Sexual assault advocacy, in itself, has many dimensions.

Riverview Center prides themselves in assisting survivors by ways of "self-determination and autonomy, feeling heard and validated, and social support," per their introductory pamphlet.

Raechel Breyer, Volunteer Coordinator at Riverview Center. Photo Credit: Steve Pulaski
Raechel Breyer, Iowa Volunteer Coordinator at Riverview Center. Photo Credit: Steve Pulaski
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Taking turns at the main table were a litany of Riverview Center staff-members, who passed out coloring sheets, fun giveaways, and information for anybody considering volunteering or their services. Behind the booth quite a bit was Raechel Breyer, an Iowa-based Volunteer Coordinator at Riverview.

Free ice cream was provided at the event courtesy of Vesperman Farms. Photo Credit: Steve Pulaski
Free ice cream was provided at the event courtesy of Vesperman Farms and the Dubuque Racing Association (DRA). Photo Credit: Steve Pulaski
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Soda, sandwiches, water, and maybe most impactfully, ice cream was available for free courtesy of Vesperman Farms and the Dubuque Racing Association (DRA).

Photo Credit: Steve Pulaski
Photo Credit: Steve Pulaski
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Some brave souls opted for a cone despite temperatures in the high-90s. I couldn't risk wearing my ice cream, so I took the safe route of a cup. Regardless of the medium, Vesperman once again made for a delicious experience.

A small sample of the toys found in one of Riverview Center's therapy rooms. Photo Credit: Steve Pulaski
A small sample of the toys found in one of Riverview Center's therapy rooms. Photo Credit: Steve Pulaski
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Staff-members were kind enough to give me a tour of Riverview Center's spacious office. The space is conducive to one-on-one treatment for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. I was particularly moved by one of their "toy rooms," designed primarily for children who may need visual assistance in recreating events or expressing certain emotions.

The toy-room is stocked with action figures, animal models, and just about every accessory you can fathom. It's all meticulously arranged in such a way that makes finding a specific one easy despite the sheer volume.

A model courtroom toy found in one of Riverview Center's offices. Photo Credit: Steve Pulaski
A model courtroom toy found in one of Riverview Center's offices. Photo Credit: Steve Pulaski
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Then there was a model courtroom in another one of Riverview Center's office. The model is designed to set the expectations for young children whose parents are involved in litigation as a result of their experiences. Its purpose is to eliminate as much uncertainty in setting and events as possible in an already unique situation.

These are the nuances many of us might overlook, especially if we've experienced any kind of recent trauma. That's why there's Riverview.

Riverview Center's mission of providing compassionate and client-centered care for individuals affected by sexual assault and domestic violence was on display as much as anything. Steadfast staff-members took time to answer questions and assure any/everyone walked away with more information about their services than they had when they arrived.

Photo Credit: Steve Pulaski
Photo Credit: Steve Pulaski
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Riverview Center also has 24/7 crisis hotlines that can assist those who need immediate help. They're an organization that is able to do what they do thanks to generous grants and donations. You can find more information about their services on their website and on their Facebook page.

Riverview Center's Dubuque facility is located at 1789 Elm Street.

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