Our mission is to provide a safe, nurturing environment to enable culturally diverse children and families achieve their full potential. Thea Bowman House is built upon the foundation of Agape: unconditional love.
Our organization has been serving low-income, at-risk children and families in the Utica community for over 30 years. We provide quality care to some of our community's most vulnerable children and youth in the hope of breaking the cycle of poverty through a structured program of educational and social enrichment.
We began in 1986 as Agape House, an after school program for latch key children in the west Utica area, and continued to expand our programs, becoming Thea Bowman House in 1996. Today we operate out of two sites in the city of Utica, one at 731 Lafayette Street and the other at the former St. Francis de Sales School at 309 Genesee Street. We currently serve over 350 children ages 18 months through 18 years.
SISTER THEA BOWMAN
Sister Thea Bowman was a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, who devoted much of her life to promoting harmony among people of all races and ethnic backgrounds. After receiving her Ph.D in English from Catholic University of America, Thea became a teacher at all levels of education. The education of young people was her life's work, particularly those at a financial disadvantage. But perhaps the best description of her is "a soul liberator, a mind liberator." She rejoiced in her African-American heritage and expressed her joy with song, dance, and gospel music. She was a gifted singer and held close to her heart a profound love of God and neighbor. A close friend of her said that she was "a person who made you simply happy to be alive."
Sister Bowman told Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes: "I think the difference between me and some people is that I'm content to do my little bit. Sometimes people think they have to do big things in order to make change. But if each one would light a candle we'd have a tremendous light"
To this day Thea remains a beacon for intercultural awareness and a bridge-builder between races. Thea Bowman was an embodiment of agape, unconditional love, which is why we have named our facility after her.