Cicero For 12 years, the CanTeen bounced from place to place, from rental to rental, never able to find a home to call its own.
On Sunday, April 22, the teen center celebrated the grand opening of its permanent home at 6046 Route 31, right next to Cicero-North Syracuse High School. The festivities included speakers ranging from local dignitaries to past and present program participants.
While the speakers were varied, the theme was the same: It’s good to be home.
“This type of occasion will never happen again,” said Toni Brauchle, the CanTeen’s executive director. “We will celebrate milestones and anniversaries and many, many, many other things, but we will never, ever have to celebrate the grand opening of another home. This is it. This is home.”
The house was purchased in 2011 with a $250,000 state grant secured by then-Assemblyman Al Stirpe. That money, along with $25,000 in funds from the Kaitlin Kozlowski Memorial Fund and help from the Community Fund and the Friends of the CanTeen, also went toward renovating the house so that it would better suit the needs of the center, which serves anywhere from 60 to 100 kids from 2 to 6 p.m. every weekday. The renovations were done by an all-volunteer labor force supplied by local labor unions, coordinated by Greg Lancette of the Central and Northern Building Trades Council.
“This started out as a lunch with Assemblyman Stirpe, Toni and Jody [Rogers, Cicero’s Youth Bureau, Parks and Recreation director] at the Coppertop Tavern,” Lancette said. “We heard about the vision. We heard about the dream. It was Brad Ward and myself. We understood the need — a larger space, a permanent space. And all of the reasons matched the reasons we try to match up our projects with our community groups.”
In order to make the project happen, Lancette said he did something the CanTeen does very well: he asked young and old to work together.