‘Compassion in action:’ Dubuque Red Cross volunteer deployed 17 times to disasters


Julie Schulte is a volunteer with the American Red Cross in Dubuque. PHOTO CREDIT: TH file

Julie Schulte’s devotion to service keeps her going places.

The Dubuquer has responded to natural disasters and other crises 17 times since 2017 as a volunteer for the American Red Cross.

“She is compassion in action,” said Jolene Carpenter, disaster program manager for the Red Cross in Dubuque. “She brings an unbelievable skill set and a passion behind that skill set to our organization. She is the full package.”

A Red Cross volunteer since 2008, the 63-year-old Schulte’s series of national and international disaster deployments began with Hurricane Harvey in 2017 in Texas.

“I’ve gone to floods in Kentucky, Hurricane Michael in Florida, Typhoon Yutu in Saipan in November 2018,” Schulte said. “I went to the wildfires in California in December 2018. I went to the Iowa derecho last year. I went to Dallas (to assist) with the unaccompanied (immigrant) minors.”

When she isn’t volunteering for the Red Cross, Schulte is helping with other organizations and events, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Julien Dubuque International Film Festival. She also has traveled to participate in volunteer opportunities in Honduras, Costa Rica and elsewhere.

“I believe strongly in serving the community,” Schulte said.

Schulte served four years in the U.S. Air Force after graduating from Wahlert Catholic High School. Her military service sent her to Virginia for two years, Korea for one year and, finally, North Dakota.

“I wanted to travel, and I didn’t know what I wanted to study in college,” she said. “I didn’t want to waste my time. I always volunteered when I was in the military, too. In Virginia, I volunteered at a school for the blind and deaf, and in Korea, I volunteered at an orphanage. I served my country then, and now, I’m still serving my country in a different way.”

Earlier in her life, Schulte wanted her two children to experience providing service to others.

“We went on a volunteer vacation every other year,” she said. “We went to South Dakota, on an Indian reservation; we went to San Francisco, to a soup kitchen; we went to New Orleans, after Hurricane Katrina. I just wanted them to appreciate what they had and to help serve others.”

Schulte launched an organization called CAPABLE (Caring, Active People Achieving Better Lives Everyday) Volunteer Co. in 2012.

She led the organization for five-and-a-half years before stepping down.

“I saw a need for people with challenges to feel good about themselves and for the community to see the value of people with challenges,” she said. “So, I created an organization that connected people with challenges to volunteer opportunities so they can serve others. I try not to use the word ‘disability.’ I think that focuses too much on the negative and what people can’t do and not all of the things they can do.”

Schulte left the organization around the time of her retirement, and it moved under the auspices of Resources Unite. As a Red Cross volunteer, Schulte has helped with providing shelter and food to disaster victims, distributing supplies and coordinating services for disaster victims with special needs.

“She is willing to step off the sidelines and come forward and give of her time, which is extremely valuable,” Carpenter said.

Erik Hogstrom writes for the Telegraph Herald.

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