Our History

The Center for Family Justice: Celebrating 125 Years of Promoting Safety, Empowerment & Hope

During the next 12 months CFJ will embark on a celebration of 125 years of providing hope, safety and empowerment to those impacted by the trauma of abuse in the Greater Bridgeport area. This mission dates back to our founding as the Bridgeport YWCA, one of the first nonprofit organizations in the region to provide shelter and services to victims of abuse.

The way CFJ has provided those services has evolved considerably over the years, but some fundamental things have held true throughout our history. Since our inception, CFJ and its predecessors have been committed to supporting the tens of thousands of  victims and survivors who have come through their doors.

Our  evolution is reflective of the broader changes in the domestic and sexual violence movement.

A brief timeline of our history follows.

  • 1884 Young Women’s Christian Association of Bridgeport opens at 343 Main St., during the Industrial Revolution with a goal to improve the physical, social, intellectual and spiritual conditions of young women who had left their rural homes to find jobs in the city.
  • 1918 YWCA moves to 263 Golden Hill St., Bridgeport.
  • 1921 YWCA opens the Phyllis Wheatley branch at 56 Broad St., Bridgeport, “for women of color.” A segregated YWCA existed for the next two decades.
  • 1942 YWCA builds a new headquarters at 263 Golden Hill St., Bridgeport, and moves the Phyllis Wheatley branch into headquarters.
  • 1966 Name changes to the YWCA of Greater Bridgeport.
  • Early 1970s YWCA restructures into three major areas: a Center for Racial Justice, a Women’s Center, and a Center for Creative Leisure.
  • 1981 YW moves to the first floor at 753 Fairfield Ave., Bridgeport.
  • 1982 YWCA’s Shelter Services program serves 582 women.
  • 1984 The YWCA’s mission changes to meet the challenging needs of women and girls in Eastern Fairfield County.
  • 1986 State authorizes the YWCA to be the lead agency for the Fairfield County Coalition for Abused Women.
  • 1990 YW’s Shelter Services for Abused Families becomes the Domestic Violence Intervention Services.
  • 1991 The Domestic Violence Intervention Services becomes Domestic Violence Services.
  • 1992 Name changes to the YWCA of Eastern Fairfield County.
  • 1995 All domestic and sexual violence services come under the newly formed The Center for Women and Families of Eastern Fairfield County, which formally disaffiliates from the YWCA to become an independent, non-sectarian organization.
  • 2014 Name changes to The Center for Family Justice as the process formally begins to become the first Family Justice Center in Connecticut.
  • 2015  A ribbon is cut and March reception held to celebrate the grand opening of The Center for Family Justice, following a renovation of CFJ’s headquarters at 753 Fairfield Ave., Bridgeport. As part of its transformation, CFJ welcomes community partners including police and representatives of multiple social services agencies on site.
  • 2016 CFJ launched The Justice Legal Center, Connecticut’s first Legal Incubator
  • 2016 CFJ launched Camp HOPE America-Bridgeport, New England’s first trauma-informed camp and mentoring program.
  • 2020 CFJ launches its Pro Bono Legal Center, hiring its first staff attorneys.
  • 2020 CFJ begins plans to hold a 125th anniversary celebration in March 2021.