David Flanagan has fought a lot of battles over the years. As he faces his toughest one yet, a pancreatic cancer diagnosis, he’s still dedicating his valuable energy and precious time to bettering lives.

You might know the name David Flanagan because of his decades of high-profile experience either in public service, politics or with Central Maine Power. But as with most successful individuals, there is more to his story.

David, inspired by and in partnership with his wife, Kaye Flanagan, has been a decades-long advocate for the Children’s Center, an early intervention organization for children with special needs, home-based in Augusta.

Kaye, a retired registered nurse who served on a children’s psychiatric unit at a New York hospital early in her career, became aware of the center shortly after they returned to Maine. Seeing purpose that married her professional training, and heart for vulnerable children, she dove in, helping strengthen the board, steer the mission and, ultimately, expand the organization’s future, improving the quality of life for local kids and their families.

While Kaye was the spearhead, David was involved by association, like so many spouses are, and it quickly became a passion for him, too. He saw the need embodied by children unable to walk, speak, hold a spoon or abandon diapers at an appropriate age – many of which were surmountable challenges with focused intervention. He saw potential – and he saw the fire it lit in the wife he adores to this day.

Two decades ago, the center faced a decision point. The modest facility was at capacity, and there were scores of children with unique challenges waiting for people and for a place that could help them. David and Kaye understood the need, and the lost potential for kids who don’t get developmental support in their earliest years, when neurological connections form rapidly. They understood, and they took it personally, that we, as a community, could and should collectively improve the long-term quality of life for hundreds of Kennebec Valley kids. They pioneered a capital campaign to fund an expansion, creating space for dozens more children and brightening countless futures.

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Twenty years later, that dream continues to grow, with Children’s Center campuses in Skowhegan, Farmington and now Waterville. We’re reaching families in Jackman and other rural areas where need is high and access is low. And we’re expanding again in Augusta with familiar leaders at the helm.

The center is a small nonprofit with a big responsibility. We, like many, operate on a shoestring budget, with passionate, hard-working employees asked to wear multiple hats. For any organization, a strategic icon like David is the guy you do, and do not, want at your table. His presence makes you sit a little straighter, and think a little harder. He has high expectations, asks hard questions, holds you accountable to the cause and makes you ponder how your actions today affect your tomorrow. He both forces and enables big-picture thinking. He makes you better.

As he is facing the life-changing battle with pancreatic cancer head on, he is quietly adding to his turn-around legacy by supporting, and advocating once again for the vulnerable kids waiting for opportunities to reach their potential. And we know he’s doing it for them – but we suspect he’s also doing it for her, for Kaye, a dogged advocate in her own right, fighting the same battles facing David. As they always have been, they’re in it together.

So you may know of David’s high-profile pursuits, but we want to be sure you are also aware that we, a little nonprofit in the state’s capital city, are bone-deep grateful for his quieter, altruistic impacts.

Thank you, David and Kaye, for your years of dedicated service to hundreds of children with special needs in our area. Thank you for making us better for them.


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