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Spring Newsletter 2009

Welcome to the online version of The Children’s Center Quarterly Newsletter!
Click here for a printable PDF.

8th Annual Chili Chowder Challenge a Great Success!

The Maple Hill Farm Inn and Conference Center won three of the six awards presented at the Children’s Center’s 8th Annual Chili Chowder Challenge: Most Original Chowder, Most Creative Display, and Most Creative Name with “Springz Sprung Chowder,” presented by Committee Chair Judy Griffin and Center supporters Kaye and David Flanagan. Red Barn held onto the coveted title of Best Chowder for the sixth year in a row and the title for Best Chili went to Little Dan’s BBQ for their “Little Dan’s Smokehouse Chili.” The Hottest Chili award went to the Liberal Cup’s “Chernobyl Chili.”

Fifteen local restaurants participated in the competition on Saturday, March 28, 2009. Over 1,200 people attended the community event, which benefited the Children’s Center and raised $25,000 for early intervention education and therapy services for local toddlers and preschool children of all abilities. The crowd bid on live and silent auction items and children enjoyed fun craft activities and Story Time with Lynn Plourde and Sarah Schultz-Neilsen of the Lithgow Library.

The restaurants competing for the best chili and chowder awards were: Al’s Pizza, Augusta House of Pancakes, Club and Catering OTR, Damon’s, Dennis’ Pizza, Java Joe’s, The Liberal Cup, Lisa’s Restaurant and Lounge, Little Dan’s BBQ, Maple Hill Farm Inn, and Conference Center, The Red Barn, Red Robin, Riverfront BBQ and Grille, Tim Horton’s, and Wing’s Hill Inn.

Everyone enjoyed the music by Terrie Kee and Friends, including a song especially for the Children’s Center called “Look at Me.” The event was sponsored by “Super Heroes” the Alliance of Maine Federal Credit Union and Lipman, Katz, and McKee. They were joined by “Heroes” Peachey Builders and the Marketplace at Augusta, “Advocates” Augusta Fuel Company, G & E Roofing, Gagne and Sons, Kennebec Savings Bank, Lajoie Brothers, Key Bank, Quirion Construction, and J.S. McCarthy Printers and “Mentors” the Manchester Lions Club, Sappi Fine Paper, and Sprague and Curtis Real Estate.

The Children’s Center is grateful to everyone who attended and the support of everyone who helped make the Chili Chowder Challenge a huge success, including volunteers from Kohl’s and Best Buy. Even during difficult times, the Augusta area community came together for an event to benefit children. Special thanks go to Judy Griffin!

Srisha and Helen

Srisha attends preschool at the Children’s Center. She is a beautiful three-year-old girl who loves to swim. Srisha has made wonderful progress in all areas. She is also a girl with Rhett’s Syndrome, a disorder that results in delays in all areas of development.

Helen is an adorable three-year-old girl with a tendency to nurture. Helen never ceases to amaze her childcare teachers with her ability to help the people around her.

Helen and Srisha are best friends. When they began spending time in the same inclusive classroom environment, Helen took Srisha under her wing. During circle time, Helen holds Srisha’s hand to help her participate in the songs.

Helen helps escort Srisha to her therapy sessions, and welcomes her back to class when she returns. When Srisha sees Helen, her excitement and joy are apparent by her smile and eye contact. Learning to care for others in their earliest years, children like Helen learn values that will shape their lives. Children like Srisha experience one of the best things in life, friendship.


It has been my pleasure recently to participate in the Kennebec Leadership Institute (KLI). This was made possible by the support of our Board of Directors, for which I am very grateful. This experience has not only sharpened my skills and broadened my knowledge in a number of areas, but it has also brought me into contact with two exceptional groups of people:

The first group is my classmates in the Institute, which is the 23rd group to participate in this series. The broad range of positions and experiences these folks hold lends itself to a spirited discussion on the topics we review and has helped me look at things from new perspectives.

The second group is the community leaders that contribute their time and insight to the group. Over the past few weeks, I have had the opportunity to meet and learn from state and local government officials, business leaders, health care professionals, leaders in education, and a host of others.

All of these experiences remind me of the great Margaret Mead quote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

This small group of thoughtful, committed people (KLI Class XXIII) has chosen to change the world by undertaking the improvement of our playground as the class project. We are working on completing the Enchanted Forest, designing and building new unique structures, and upgrading the entire space.

For that, and for the refreshed enthusiasm they have brought to me, I thank them all, classmates and community leaders, alike. ~ Jonathan

New Program for Relatives Raising Children

The Children’s Center is pleased to have been awarded a grant from the Brookdale Foundation to conduct a program in collaboration with Kennebec Valley Community Action Program (KVCAP) and Southern Kennebec Child Development Corporation (SKCDC) for grandparents raising grandchildren and other nontraditional families. Families and caregivers will be welcome to join us in September for a series of workshops about early childhood development and about the unique challenges of being a “relative caregiver.”


The following story was written by the children of the Bursting Blossoms classroom:

Once upon a time, there was a wonderful place called the Children’s Center where kids went to play and learn. One spring day there were “flowers growing out of the snow and the snow melted away” (Kyle V).

“It was springtime the snow melted and the outside was full of mud” (Helen). The children liked to “play in the mud with sleds” (Kyle B).

“The big kids and the little kids liked to make mud pies, and scoop the mud and put it in a bucket” (Maximus).

“The kids like to play with toys like cars and trucks at the Children’s Center. They liked floam and playdough, goop, and to play with friends” (Owen).

“I got a flower from the garden to play with and then I lost it” (Leah).

During springtime, we “cut shapes out” (Terra) and “play outside with mud and walk in the mud” (Eric).

Children’s Center Online

Would you like to know more about what’s happening at the Children’s Center? We have many exciting projects ahead, and would love to share our progress with you as we move forward! Go to our website and look for the “Join Mailing List” box on the right-hand side of the home page. Send us your email address, and we’ll keep you in the loop.

The Children’s Center is on Facebook, too! To keep up with events, discussions, and photos, use the “search” field on the upper right of your screen, enter “Children’s Center: Early Intervention & Family Support.”

Judy Griffin Named Central Maine Philanthropist of the Year!

The Maine Philanthropist of the Year Awards, sponsored by the Goldfarb Center for Public Policy and Civic Engagement at Colby College, recognized the Children’s Center’s own Judy Griffin this year. Each year since 2002, Judy has been the driving force behind the Center’s Chili Chowder Challenge. Judy has coordinated the event, making it seem effortless, and helped the Children’s Center raise more than $100,000 to support early intervention services.

In addition, Judy is a past board member and former president of the Board of Directors, and the architect of the successful Capital Campaign that raised over $1.4 million for the expansion of the Center. She is also a volunteer with Healthreach Hospice Volunteers of Kennebec Valley, is active in her church, and was a Big Sister for many years. Judy is a truly deserving recipient of this prestigious award and the Children’s Center is lucky to have her.

Red Barn Pancake Breakfast

You are invited to a pancake breakfast to benefit the Children’s Center!

Sunday, May 3, 2009, 8 – 10 am

Come eat pancakes, bacon, sausage, coffee, and orange juice at:

455 Riverside Drive
Augusta, Maine

All donations benefit the Children’s Center, serving children and families in Central Maine for 43 years.

Parent Training

Contact Renee Randazzo at (207) 626-3497, ext. 130 or [email protected].

All training is free for parents. Childcare is available and refreshments will be provided.

Transition to Kindergarten: A Natural Progression

Speaker: Robbin Pelletier, Maine Parent Federation

Children’s Center
1 Alden Avenue
Augusta, ME

Wednesday, April 29, 2009, 5 – 7 pm

Maine Lifespan Respite Summit

Speaker: Jill Kagan, Chair, ARCH National Respite Coalition

St. Paul Center
State Street
Augusta, ME
Wednesday, June 11, 2009, 9 am – 5 pm

Join us as we begin the journey to secure lifespan respite care for Maine.

  • Learn about the national Lifespan Respite Law,
  • Build a coalition and network of agencies, caregivers, and providers,
  • Inspire, share, and collaborate together.

*Registration closes one week prior to each training. You MUST register to attend. No walk-ins. Space is limited for training and childcare.

Current Board Members:

President ~ Warren Bartlett
Vice President ~ Dana Hamilton
Treasurer ~ Rep. Patsy Garside Crockett
Secretary ~ Kimberly MacKenzie
Gerald Stuart, Kim Eames, Christine Bartlett, Elisa Paylor, Glenn Gagne, Cristina Evers

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