For years, the CanTeen, a youth center serving Cicero and North Syracuse, has moved to and from a number of locations. But with some fundraising and the generosity of local businesses, it finally has a permanent home. Our Iris St. Meran stopped by the CanTeen to see how things have changed since moving for the last time.
CICERO, N.Y. -- From the outside, 6046 Route 31 in Cicero looks like any other house. If you ask the members of the CanTeen, this is their second home.
Friends of The CanTeen member Toni'Lyn Brauchle said, "Every fiber of its being feels like a home. So when we have to clean up every night before we close, it's just like anybody's house. It still got to get vacuumed, the floors have to get washed, the dishes have to get put away. All those things that you would do in a home, you have to do here."
"This is a nice family place. There's really no negativity here. If it is, it's outside," said participant Tegan Gorman.
Inside there's a full kitchen. We were here earlier this month and they were using it to prepare a meal. There's also a media room, conference room and lots of areas to hang out, play games and even do a little homework.
Fifty to 75 students come daily. Participants say they forged friendships with others who would not be in their normal social circles at school.
Participant Stephanie Beacham said, "If I didn't come here, I probably wouldn't have at least three-fourths of the friends I have now. The people I've met here are the best people I've met. They're so supportive. They're like family."
The CanTeen is also open to others. If student groups want to have meetings or events here, they can. Cicero-North Syracuse High School is just a short walk away. Many of the CanTeen participants go there.
"We are part of the school community, in every since of the word now,” Brauchle said. “We're right here so it's good."
And since its inception, it's gotten even better with this permanent location providing a safe and welcoming environment for all youth in the community.
If you or your child is interesting in joining the CanTeen or want to learn more, visit www.canteencny.com.