Giraffe Awards: Honoring those who “stick their necks out” for kids~
The Children’s Center was nominated by parent Lisa Lawson, and chosen by the selection committee to be presented a “Giraffe Award” from the Maine Children’s Alliance. The award was presented to the Children’s Center at the 18th Annual Champions for Children and Giraffe Awards on Thursday, October 11, 2012. Former Board President and longtime Children’s Center supporter Kaye Flanagan joined current members of the Board of Directors Dana Hamilton, Patsy Garside Crockett, Lori Fowler, Julie Shephard, and Diane Smith-Howard to celebrate the recognition at the event, held at the Freeport Hilton Garden Inn.
Maine Children’s Alliance (MCA):
It is the mission of the Maine Children’s Alliance to advocate for a better life for children, youth and families throughout Maine. Realizing how much work there is to do and that resources are declining and the work is increasing, MCA want to honor individuals, businesses and non-profits that go above and beyond in their efforts to make life better for Maine children, by sticking out their necks to help in any way they can.
Since 1995, MCA has recognized those who do extraordinary work on behalf of children in communities all over Maine. The annual Giraffe Awards program has been so successful in calling attention to the achievements of dedicated volunteers, professionals and organizations that MCA has adopted the giraffe as its symbol for its ongoing efforts to “stick our necks out” to improve the well-being of children, youth and families in Maine.
Children’s advocates are often unsung heroes and the annual awards offer a chance to call attention to the amazing work that people are doing in communities across Maine to help our young people in ways that have lasting and widespread effects.
“Children’s Center: Early Intervention and Family Support” is currently celebrating its forty-fifth year of operations. In 1966, one mother (Priscilla Chevarie) was struggling to meet the needs of her daughter and joined together with other parents in the basement of a local church. That group of parents incorporated as an organization originally known as Mid-State United Cerebral Palsy. After locating in a variety of less than ideal settings, the donation of land to Kennebec County and a rural development grant led to the construction of our facility at our current location on Alden Avenue in December of 1978.
In 1990, the organization started exclusively serving children from birth to age five, and the organization also changed its name to “Children’s Center” to more accurately reflect its changing mission and programs.
In 2001, Kaye and David Flanagan provided leadership and led a dedicated group of community members in a capital campaign culminating in May of 2003, when the Children’s Center officially cut the ribbon on a newly renovated and expanded building. A shift in focus to better serve children with identified needs by including all children led to the decision to offer child care in the fall of 2008, followed by program for infants and toddlers in 2009. The Center offers a fully accessible playground, including a unique 30 foot long water feature, custom canopies for shade, a lobster boat, raised gardens, a barn, an “Enchanted Forest” and a sliding moose, all designed for four-season imaginative play and promoting an active lifestyle.
Today, the Children’s Center highly skilled staff of over 75 professionals strives to provide all of the children served with an inclusive experience, and offers a comprehensive array of services to meet the needs of children and caregivers, including specially designed instruction, childcare, speech and occupational therapy, behavioral support, specialized programs, targeted case management and parent education.