Church working to provide ‘Access for All’

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BEACON FALLS — The Beacon Falls Congregational Church is looking to make the church more accessible to everyone.

The church has been working with an architect for the past two years to implement its “Access for All Project.” The project will put in place a number of additions and alterations at the church on Wolfe Avenue, including an elevator to provide access to the sanctuary level, a handicap-accessible bathroom on the first floor, a ramp from the ground-level entrance down to the church’s fellowship hall, a ramp to provide access to the education wing, classrooms, bathrooms and meeting rooms, and a memorial garden, according to a press release.

The project’s goal is to permit everyone, regardless of ability, to partake in religious and community events held at the church. The United Day School also operates out of the church.

“We are very excited that these changes will allow church members, funeral homes, service organizations and the day care that has been there for many years, a chance to finally allow access to all,” the press release stated.

Wendy Oliveira, co-owner of the United Day School, praised the planned upgrades the project would bring in a letter to the church. She pointed out that there are currently only stairs that lead down to the school and to the facilities.

“I was extremely excited to hear that church members are working very hard to bring forward a project that will make the church handicap accessible. I, along with all United Day School staff, fully support this project,” Oliveira wrote.

In order to offset the cost of the project the church has started a GoFundMe page, www.gofundme.com/2rsxsto, and is looking to raise $10,000. As of Tuesday, $675 had been raised through the GoFundMe page.

Mark Hopkinson, a member of the committee overseeing the project, said the money raised on the GoFundMe page is only a small portion of what the church needs to complete the project.

The project is expected to cost approximately $600,000, he said. The church has already raised about $300,000 towards the project, he said.

While the money raised from the GoFundMe page will not make or break the project, Hopkinson said it is a good way to reach out and get the community involved.

“We have done internal fundraising. We wanted to get more of an outreach to the people in community,” Hopkinson said. “And if we exceed $10,000 that’s great.”

One of the primary sources of the money will come from a mortgage the church is taking out on the building, Hopkinson said. Any of the donations collected after the mortgage is taken out will primarily go to offset the cost of the mortgage.

According to Hopkinson, the church has sent out a request for bids on various parts of the project. The next step is to get those bids back and decide which to move forward with.

“We are waiting to see which gives us the most bang for our dollar,” Hopkinson said.

Hopkinson said the church is hoping to break ground on the project before the end of the year.

“We have been doing this for a couple of years with fundraising and planning. The congregation and families in the church are ready to see the ground being broken. We are hoping that once the bids come in we can move fairly quickly,” Hopkinson said.