October 23, 2023

Oneida County Commits $250,000 to Thea Bowman House for DeSales Center Elevator

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County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. announced today that Oneida County has awarded $250,000 to Thea Bowman House to fund the construction of an elevator at its DeSales Center in order to improve accessibility for childcare services and expand growth opportunities.

“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 92-year-old four-story facility, which is located at 309 Genesee St., currently has a chair lift that can only provide limited access to a small section of the first floor.

The addition of an exterior elevator will not only provide access to all levels of the building, but also assist in transporting food from the ground-floor kitchen and improve 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.

The DeSales Center serves more than 400 children ages 20 months to 12 years 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 facility also houses a program for teens and the DOVE program, which is dedicated to helping children with social-emotional needs. The facility’s auditorium is used by community groups for special meetings and events and the Levitt AMP Concert Series uses the space and parking lot for summer concerts.

”We are deeply grateful to County Executive Picente and the Board of Legislators for their tireless efforts on behalf of childcare and supportive services in our community,” said Thea Bowman House Executive Director Jane Domingue. “This generous grant will provide opportunities for growth at the DeSales Center. It will significantly fund an exterior elevator that will be constructed for our four-story building. The elevator will make it possible for persons with handicapping conditions to fully utilize our services, as well as to allow affordable rental space for not-for-profits with compatible missions to occupy the top floor of the building.”

Picente allocated money for the elevator project from the county’s American Rescue Plan Act funding.

Oneida County Partners