Shown here are CanTeen visitors celebrating "Friendsgiving."
To the editor:
As I am writing this letter of gratitude to our surrounding community, I am reminded daily of how important building relationships with our young people can pay huge dividends over time. The CanTeen is celebrating 20 years of service this year and I am indebted to those individuals that have supported our efforts. As I reminisce and reflect upon all of the hugs, smiles, tears of joy and sorrow, I am beyond humbled by the experience. Unlocking and exposing a young person’s strengths is a gift given them that is invaluable. It can’t be measured in scientific data, but it can be reflected in the choices that they make regarding risky behaviors and how much they value their self-worth. Everyone needs support and encouragement, even those that appear to have it all together. We have spent 20 years doing just that and then some. We have encouraged giving back to their community and learning social and communication skills that are severely lacking in today’s society. We have facilitated break ups and built coping skills where none existed. We have provided services, supports and opportunities to a constant stream of young people and will continue to do so for years to come.
We have not done that in a silo, but with a network of financial, professional social service agency and academic support systems. Our local elected officials and law enforcement agencies have been a critical component to our successes and can be called upon for any number of requests. Over the years, I have frequently heard the phrase, “I wish our community had this type of support for our young people!” We are beyond fortunate in more ways than I can begin to explain, and I am grateful each and every day.
In celebration of this phenomenal milestone, The Friends of the CanTeen are asking for individuals to invest $20 toward operational expenses. If you believe that our efforts toward prevention initiatives are a better investment for your hard-earned dollars than reactionary juvenile justice costs, than please consider a donation. Please visit canteencny.com to donate online, or send a check to: Friends of the CanTeen, P.O. Box 1521, Cicero, NY 13039.
Youth Services Coordinator
Town of Cicero/CanTeen
Ashley M. Casey is a reporter for The Baldwinsville Messenger and The Eagle Star-Review. She graduated from Le Moyne College in 2012 and previously worked for the Scotsman Press.