Spring 1998 - Local teens approached community leaders, including Town of Cicero Supervisor Joan Kesel, Chief of Police/Director of Community and Volunteer Services American Red Cross Joe Snell, North Syracuse Central School District teachers Bill Brown and Bill Bradley, North Syracuse Central School District Administrator Dr. David Morton and Undersheriff Warren Darby regarding offering services, supports and opportunities to keep youth safe and entertained during their out of school time. While following a directive from then President Elizabeth Dole to cultivate more youth involvement, the local chapter of The American Red Cross partnered with the community to research the possibilities. Bob Bewley, Director of Program Development for the American Red Cross, and Toni’Lyn Brauchle, Program Specialist for Community Connections, each committed 20 hours a week to the initiative. With the assistance of Dr. David Morton, grants were applied for to operate the program. Surveys were administered to youth in 6th - 12th grades in the North Syracuse Central School District researching the interest in the possibility of a local teen center.
Summer 1998 - With assistance from the Community Connections PRIDE Youth group, the Battle of the Bands was held at Lonergan Park in North Syracuse and attracted over 100 youth. Open Mic nights were held at the local community center. Work began to transform a vacant storefront, donated by the American Red Cross, at MarketPlace Mall in Cicero into a teen center.
January 1999 - The American Red Cross held a Grand Opening of the Northeast Youth Initiative Teen Center at MarketPlace Mall. A Safe Places To Learn and Play Grant for $50,000 a year for three years was awarded to the CanTeen through the Onondaga County Youth Bureau and the New York State Office of Children and Family Services. The We Care crisis hotline, formally located at the Town of Cicero, was moved under the umbrella of the Youth Initiative.
September 2001 - New leadership at the helm of the local chapter of the American Red Cross decided to take the chapter in a different direction, which removed them as lead agency of the Northeast Youth Initiative. The Teen Center had to move due to the demolition of the mall. It was temporarily located at the North Syracuse Community Center. Meanwhile discussions were held to find a new program sponsor and lead agency for funding. A second round of The Safe Places To Learn and Play Grant was written, but response was delayed due to the tragedy in New York City on September 11th.
December 2001 - A 3-year grant totaling $200,000 was awarded to the teen program from Congressman James Walsh through the North Syracuse Central School District. A grant from the New York State Assembly (Nancy Lorraine Hoffman) was also awarded.
January 2002 - The change in lead agency happened as of January 1st, when the Town of Cicero took over the program administration. A new location needed to be found. A number of locations were explored while the Cicero Senior Center and William Park Recreation Building acted as alternate sites. Funding streams needed to be bolstered. Cicero Youth Bureau was formed with neighboring partners; Towns of Cicero, Clay, Salina and the Village of North Syracuse. Those partners, in concert with a wide variety of representation from across all sectors also formed a community youth board to specifically look at programs offered for youth. The Cicero Youth Board began meeting monthly, rotating meeting locations to each municipality, as well as The North Syracuse Central School District.
April 2002 - The program signed a lease and settled into its third home, located next to the Cicero North Syracuse High School in New Country Plaza in Cicero. Busing began to be offered through the North Syracuse Central School District for teens to the center from The North Syracuse Junior High School and home for all interested participants. At the grand opening of this location, a local resident, Carole Laing, mentioned to the teens that in the 1950’s there was a teen center in the center of town called “The CanTeen.” The teens decided to adopt that name; therefore, the teen center officially changed its name to The CanTeen. Due to the proximity to the high school, the center reached record numbers of youth attending on a daily basis.
February 2004 - Due to the generosity of the community, The CanTeen needed to create a conduit to accept donations. With the assistance of Town of Cicero Police Chief Joseph Snell, The Friends of the CanTeen 501c3 tax exempt organization was formed. Their sole mission was and still it to raise funds to operate the teen center.
May 2004 -A grant from the New York State Assembly (Jeff Brown) funded a 12-passenger van to transport youth on various educational and recreational outings.
September 2004 - The Cicero Youth Board changed its name to better reflect all of the parties involved in the CanTeen. They officially became the Greater Cicero Community Youth Board.
September 2005 - The CanTeen was again uprooted as the lease was not extended. They relocated for the fourth time 2.5 miles from the high school to 8837 Brewerton Rd. The renovation to the new facility was done by volunteers: new wiring, lights, wall removal and a fresh coat of paint applied.
September 2008 - Pam Derocher, a local property owner on the eastern perimeter of Cicero North Syracuse High School, offered to sell her property for a permanent home for the CanTeen. A meeting to move forward with a major fundraising effort for this permanent home was approved by all interested parties.
October 2008 - The national economic down turn affected all the funding sources for the program and a potential closure loomed on the horizon. The permanent home idea was abandoned for a massive fundraising effort to keep the doors open.
January 2009 - The program celebrated 10 years of offering programs to teens in the North Syracuse Central School District community. A large contingent of past participants attended and shared their personal stories.
February 2009 - The Friends of the CanTeen group stepped up and planned a “Raise the Rent” auction for May. The CanTeen cut back on spending and the only funds spent were for staffing, the building and minimal program supplies. A major effort to speak to local, county and state representatives took place to make them aware of the potential closure without funding.
May 2009 - Raise the Rent auction raised $15,000. The state funding streams began to slowly be rejuvenated, although cuts were made to each stream.
January 2010 - Led by Assemblyman Al Stirpe, steps were taken to secure funding to purchase a permanent "home" on the perimeter of the CNS High School complex.
August 2010 - Inaugural Gus Macker Basketball Tournament made the Friends of the CanTeen over $20,000.
May 2011 - Friends of the CanTeen (501c3) purchased 6046 State Route 31 in Cicero, New York as their new, permanent "HOME"!
June 2011 - Extreme Home Makeover CanTeen Style began. Local Architect John Goodman volunteered his time to draft the specific plans. Under the coordinated efforts of Greg Lancette, Central and Northern New York Building & Trades Council President, the following trade groups volunteered their time and expertise to assist:
Bricklayers & Allied Craft Workers Local #2
Roofers Local #195
International Association of Heat & Frost Insulators & Allied Workers Local #30
IBEW Local #43
Painters District Council #4
United Association of Plumbers & Steamfitters Local #267
Sheet Metal Workers Local #58
Additionally, Engineers from C&S Companies gave of their time and talents. Also, volunteers from the North Syracuse Central School District and the community were too numerous to count. Many local businesses donated supplies and installation costs.
August 2011 - The CanTeen took up temporary residence in the Country Max Plaza once again while renovation and construction was completed at 6046 State Route 31.
November 2011 - CanTeen moved out of the plaza and took the program on the road.
March 14, 2012 - The CanTeen officially opened for business at 6046 Route 31.
April 22, 2012 - Grand Opening Celebration was held.
January 2014 - The CanTeen/Town of Cicero entered into an agreement with Contact Community Services to provide staffing and programming opportunities.
August 2014 - The Friends of the CanTeen Gus Macker Basketball Tournament surpassed the $100,000 fundraising mark.