The Thea Bowman House is receiving $250,000 in funding to construct an elevator at its DeSales Center on Genesee Street in Utica.

The facility is home to the Academics First Child Care Center and Thea Bowman House Child Care Center and the elevator will provide an accessibility option for those who need it, but could also assist in transporting items - including food from the ground-floor kitchen.

The elevator may help the chances of filling the vacant third and fourth floors with more non-profit organizations, many of which have expressed interest, but haven’t committed due to the lack of accessibility, according to Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente's Office.

“The Thea Bowman House has been delivering crucial services to at-risk families in Utica for over 30 years, providing quality care to some of our community’s most vulnerable children and youth,” Picente said. “Its DeSales Center is in desperate need of improvement, and Oneida County is happy to assist by funding the construction of an elevator that will finally provide access to all four floors of the facility. The important work that is being done by this organization deserves a space that can accommodate all of its needs.”

The DeSales Center serves more than 400 children each day through Thea Bowman’s childcare center for low income and culturally-diverse children, its Universal Pre-Kindergarten Program through the Utica City School District and Academics First, a separate childcare agency that accommodates families with non-traditional working hours.

 The DeSales Center is a 92-year-old, four-story building that is the former St. Francis DeSales School. The existing building only has a chair lift that provides limited access to a small section of the first floor.

Money for the project is being allocated from the American Rescue Plan Act monies awarded to Oneida County.

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