By CeCilia (CeCe)

The type of relationships I’ve built with so many people because of the CanTeen are so strong and unbreakable. I know I’ll have lifelong friends because of the CanTeen.

By Joseph R.

It’s helped me make a lot of friends and give me a place to hang out. I’ve also developed close relationships with the staff, they are really nice.

By Derrick

I’ve sought mental help since I’ve been at the CanTeen. Of course, I still need a lot more help, but I think the connection made is a good gateway to a better life.

By Alicia

I’ve got to meet new people, made many friendships for example Derrick. Also, I’ve gotten closer with some staff like Amy & Yazeem

By Natalie

Adult relationships grew ever since I started coming to the CanTeen and I was able to connect to everyone no matter race, identity, sexuality, etc.

By Jacob

The center has helped me make new friends, find better ones and end damaging ones. In the center I’ve had fun and gained experience.

By Erin

I have built many friendships throughout many grades that would have otherwise been impossible to make. I have been able to go on trips with these friends that were not available to me before joining the CanTeen, and I have been able to help my community through various events that I didn’t know existed before.

By Rhys

I feel like I have become more open, more willing to make new friends during my time at the CanTeen. The new relationships I do develop are also going more smoothly then those I had formed in the past. As I move onto college, I hope that they have a similar program there, with staff that are just as open, friendly & caring as those at the CanTeen.

By Cici Scar

The CanTeen has always been my go-to second home, ever since I could I would come here, meet good people, eat good food and enjoy my free time in such a nice place. It has been a fantastic hangout spot with my close and current friends. I’ve met some really cool even younger people while I was here. I will forever miss the staff member I have met over the years. I’m happy to be apart of this family for so long! I hope others will find as much, if not more enjoyment out of this place as I have.

Stephany VanDyke

Whatever You Make It

Like many CanTeen alumni, Stephany VanDyke came to the space on the suggestion of friends. It was simply a place to hang out and enjoy activities like open mic night.

But, it became much more than that as she began to forge bonds with staff and mentors who let her open up.

“Some of the most important conversations … I felt so comfortable in that place that I could engage with an adult and with kids my age and feel safe,” Stephany says. “It’s teaching life skills through acceptance.”

She was able to express herself during some very difficult times. At 16, she lost her best friend in a drunk driving accident and struggled.

“I learned to never give up on yourself,” Stephany says. “I learned through the support and love that never ended through that program despite the bad life choices I was making.

“Looking back on that and where I am today with my life and a family and a career and a positive outlook on my past and my future,” she says. “I give my experience at the CanTeen a lot of credit for that. I think it’s really important to have that kind of community.”

It was a community that gave her the opportunity to develop leadership skills that have stuck with the senior account executive at a large telecommunications company. She points out The CanTeen can accommodate just about any path with its staff, programming and resources for volunteering.

“The CanTeen is a blank slate. You can make it what you want,” Stephany says. “It’s for people who say, ‘I just want to hang out with people who get me, be accepted and have a relaxed, safe atmosphere where I can really turn this into however I want to experience it.’”