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Updated: May 24, 2021

Augusta center for special-needs kids gets $1M gift for planned expansion

Rendering Children's Center in Augusta after expansion Rendering / Courtesy WBRC Architects-Engineers The nonprofit Children's Center, an early childhood intervention and family support services organization for children with special needs, will use $1 million donated by Charlie and Nancy Shuman towards the planned expansion of its facility in Augusta, depicted here.

The Children's Center, a nonprofit early childhood intervention and family support services organization for children with special needs, on Monday announced it has received a $1 million gift to help fund the planned expansion of its Augusta facility.

The donation comes from Charlie and Nancy Shuman, of Charlie’s Motor Mall and Charlie’s Family of Dealerships in Augusta, and the Children's Center said the contribution is the family's largest gift of its kind to date. The center also said the expansion will allow for more youngsters with special needs to access vital services at a critical age.

Courtesy / Children's Center
Nancy and Charlie Shuman

“The Children’s Center is an amazing place for children with special needs to be given every opportunity to move into the public school system as high functioning kids,” Charlie Shuman said in Monday's announcement.

“Nancy and I have given to the Children’s Center in the past for playground equipment, and we have had the opportunity to see kids using it, while also watching the work the staff does with all of these children," he added. " We have been very impressed to witness it, and to hear the stories of the progression these kids make because of the Children’s Center. It is inspiring to us.”

The Children’s Center announced its plans earlier in the year to expand its primary location in Augusta to meet demand. A spokesman for the organization was unable to provide a project budget, telling Mainebiz that everyone involved hopes to land on a firm cost in coming weeks. 

The plan is to break ground this year, and expand the current facility by 14,000 square feet while renovating 5,000 square feet of existing space.

Project collaborators include Bangor-based WBRC Architects-Engineers and Lajoie Bros. Inc., an Augusta-based construction company that built the Rusty Lantern and a building for Cushnoc Brewing Co. in Augusta in 2019.

The $1 million donation follows three gifts of $250,000 each announced in April, from two local families and Kennebec Savings Bank.

Serving a need 

The Children's Center provides center-based services for youngsters ages six weeks to five years old and outpatient services, including occupational therapy, speech therapy, outpatient mental health for children and families, and case management support to kids up to age 21. 

Every year, the center serves more than 250 children, at locations in Augusta, Farmington, Skowhegan and Waterville, all of which have waiting lists. Augusta's is the longest, with nearly 100 children in need of center-based or outpatient services there at any given time.

“The gift from Charlie and Nancy Shuman shows their kindness and commitment to the people of this community,” said Jeff Johnson, Children’s Center executive director.

“This funding will bring the Children’s Center a big step closer to making the expansion a reality, which will not only eliminate the 100-child waiting list in Augusta, but also provide more space, technology, and resources to prepare children with special needs at a critical age.”

Children’s Center has served the Augusta Area since 1967 as Mid-State United Cerebral Palsy Inc. After several moves, the doors to the current building opened in 1978.

The building, located on the corner of Alden Avenue and Worcester Street in Augusta, was expanded in 2001, increasing its capacity to 60 children.

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