Charlie and Nancy Shuman’s gift will help Augusta center for kids with special needs expand
AUGUSTA – Children’s Center, an early childhood intervention and family support services organization for children with special needs, has announced a $1 million gift from Charlie and Nancy Shuman. The Shuman family is behind Charlie’s Motor Mall and Charlie’s Family of Dealerships in Augusta, which is considered the largest new car dealership in the state. The $1 million gift is for the Children’s Center’s efforts to expand its Augusta facility, allowing for more kids with special needs to access vital services at a critical age. This is the Shuman’s largest gift of this nature to date.
“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,” said Charlie Shuman. “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. 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.”
Children’s Center announced its plans earlier in the year to expand its primary location in Augusta to meet demand. The organization provides center-based services for children 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. Annually, the Center serves more than 250 children between its four sites: Augusta, Farmington, Skowhegan and Waterville. All sites have waiting lists with Augusta’s being the largest at nearly 100 children in need of center-based or outpatient services 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 will expand its current Augusta facility by 14,000 square feet, while renovating 5,000 square feet of existing space. The expansion will more than double the space and provide additional classrooms, specialized service areas and administrative space. The expansion will also create additional gross motor space, a stimulation-sensitive entrance and lobby, solar installation for improved energy efficiency and a reduced carbon footprint, and the state’s only Snoezelen Room.
“The age range served by the Children’s Center is especially important,” said Shuman. “Those young years are so critical to all children, and children with special needs are no different. Having the proper care and attention at that age is an immeasurable benefit to these kids. This mission and the impact of these early years have us digging more deeply than we ever have to make sure these futures are as bright as they can be.”
Children’s Center offerings cover a wide range of services, including specialized programming for children with autism, complex medical needs and global delays; behavioral day treatment for children with a history of trauma, emotional regulation and mental health needs; and a recently established fully accredited Special Purpose Private School, allowing children in need of a specialized environment to continue learning at Children’s Center for their kindergarten year.
Children’s Center has served the Greater Augusta Area since 1967 as Mid-State United Cerebral Palsy, Inc. After several moves, the doors to the current building opened in December of 1978. The building, located on the corner of Alden Avenue and Worcester Street in Augusta, was expanded in 2001, increasing its capacity to 60 center-based children.
More details about Children’s Center can be found at www.ChildrensCTR.org.