Thanks to a generous community and the tireless work of numerous volunteers, the CanTeen will soon have a new home next to Cicero-North Syracuse High School.
Unfortunately, it won’t be done by Nov. 22, which is when the lease runs out on their temporary home in Country Max Plaza, into which the teen center moved at the beginning of the school year. The organization left its longtime home on Route 11 in June in anticipation of the construction of its new home closer to the high school, funded with a Community Development grant.
“Someone else is leasing the space in Country Max Plaza,” said Toni-Lyn Brauchle, executive director of the CanTeen. “So we have to get out. We’ll be homeless for a little while.”
However, the temporary home was less than ideal; the space was cramped, the facility had no kitchen and the CanTeen, a nonprofit organization with very little funding, had been paying $1,700 a month in rent since September.
Brauchle said the CanTeen staff expects to move into the new home on Route 31 around the end of the year. In the meantime, offsite activities are planned.
“We’ll be taking it on the road,” she said. “We plan to do some field trips, and our staff will be going to the school and doing the lunch blocks.”
Meanwhile, work is steadily progressing at the new house.
“It’s very exciting watching it move along. We can see it coming together now,” Brauchle said. “The walls just went up. The roof’s not in yet. The roofers should be coming the week before Thanksgiving, and hopefully the pavers will be there the week of Thanksgiving. We’re hoping to get to a place soon where the kids can help in terms of planning the layout and carpeting and stuff. We hope to be in by the end of the year, but we’re operating on a volunteer work schedule, and it’s dependent on the weather.”
However, there’s still much to be done, and the CanTeen is asking for the community’s support to do it.
“Before we left the house on Route 11, we were really down to the bare bones,” Brauchle said. “We didn’t replenish our supplies, so we need everything – startup supplies from paper products to ramen noodles to basic peanut butter and jelly, all the things you need when you move into a new home. It would be extremely helpful if the community would have a food drive for us. On the CanTeen website, we have a donation button so people can donate through PayPal. Our incidental expenses are rather large.”
Brauchle also expressed her appreciation – as well as the appreciation of the kids who take advantage of the CanTeen’s services – for the support of everyone in the area who has helped out with the project.
“We want the community to know how much we appreciate the support we’ve gotten so far. It’s really heartwarming,” she said. “Strangers will come up to me and ask how the process is going and if the kids are excited about it. The community is really embracing this project. People are always checking up on it. They’ll call me and make sure I know that people are at the site, that it’s okay for them to be there. They’re really watching out for us. And the volunteer effort is just amazing. They’re really coming together to make it happen.”
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.