UTICA, NY (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) — Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente announced on Monday, October 23 that the county has awarded money to the Thea Bowman House for accessibility improvement.

Picente announced that the nonprofit will be receiving $250,000 to fund the construction of an elevator at its DeSales Center. Currently, the DeSales Center — which currently operates out of the former St. Francis DeSales School on Genesee Street — only has a chair lift, which only provides limited access to a small portion of the first floor.

“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 Thea Bowman House expects that the building of the elevator will provide access to all levels of the building and facilitate the transport of food from the ground-floor kitchen to all areas of the building. According to Thea Bowman House Executive Director Jane Domingue, they hope that the elevator will bring in more non-profit organizations, who have expressed interest in moving into the DeSales Center, but have not committed due to lack of accessibility.

”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.”

The DeSales center also houses a pre-kindergarten program through the Utica City School District, as well as the DOVE Program, which helps children with social and emotional needs. The facility’s auditorium is used by community groups for meetings and events, while the parking lot is used for the Levitt AMP Concert Series.

According to a statement by the county, the Center serves more than 400 children through Thea Bowman’s childcare center, the pre-kindergarten program and Academics First, a separate childcare agency that accommodates families with non-traditional working hours.

The money for the project was allocated from the county’s American Rescue Plan funding.