About the Stan Deen Foundation

The Foundation

THE STAN DEEN FOUNDATION (SDF) is a registered 501c3 organization. Contributions support children and teen survivors of traumatic events. OUR MISSION is to instill hope in the lives of children and teen survivors through education and the arts. All donations to this organization are tax exempt.

The SDF believes that education and the arts are at the core of enriching community, connecting people to culture and to one another. Both areas play a transformative role in the lives of those involved. By partnering with local and national foundations, The SDF seeks to improve the quality of life for traumatized adolescents through investing in their education and artistic abilities in order to build stronger, better informed and more engaged individuals.

A significant number of children and teens in American society are exposed to traumatic life events. A traumatic event is one that threatens injury, death, or the physical integrity of self or others, causing horror, terror, or helplessness at the time it occurs, including events such as sexual abuse, physical abuse, domestic violence, community or school violence, medical trauma, motor vehicle accidents, suicides, etc.

The SDF believes in the inherent health and resiliency of survivors. We understand how difficult the pain of these experiences can be, and we honor the strength, courage and time it takes to heal. It is our sincerest hope and intention that the information and resources we provide help along that journey…Brave the Dark & Let Your Light Shine!

By donating to SDF today you will help to plant the seed of hope in the life of someone in need. Our actions, no matter how small, have a ripple effect and can indeed change the world.

We are deeply honored by your support.

Nathaniel Deen, Founder of SDF

Stan Deen’s Story

As an English teacher and theatre director, Stan was a Lancaster County institution-beloved by generations of students and adults throughout the area and beyond. Stan’s remarkable life transformed countless individuals. With a seemingly endless supply of energy, enthusiasm, and optimism, all highlighted by his distinctive wit and charm, Stan truly lived each day to its fullest. His zest for life was unmatched, and he shared his joy with every person who crossed his path. Stan was at his best when he was bringing out the best in others.

In the classroom, he was animated and engaging, able to connect on a deeply personal level with students from all walks of life. He founded Garden Spot Performing Arts (GSPA) in 1967-a distinguished high school theatre program that was among the first of its kind in the region.

Upon his retirement, the ELANCO School District immortalized Stan’s legacy as a teacher and director by naming the high school auditorium in his honor. Never one to slow down, he continued his multifaceted career in theatre by working for over a decade as a writer and producer at Sight & Sound Theatres.

In 2008, he returned to Garden Spot, where he directed seven more seasons of shows for GSPA. Also, in recent years, Stan served as a teacher and director for various local organizations, including Cavod Academy of the Arts, Ephrata ACT, Lancaster Bible College, T.E.A.C.H., Veritas Academy, and several other community theatres. True to his vibrant nature and tireless work ethic, Stan had been directing rehearsal for a summer production on the day of his death.

Stan Deen was many things to many people, and his life will continue to impact generations for years to come. Everyone who knew him felt a special connection to him. He had a unique ability to make each person he encountered feel special and truly valued. Stan would draw out the potential in others even when they didn’t see it in themselves.

Stan’s spirit will live on through the countless number of students whose lives were changed by his immeasurable influence. He will be remembered as a man of great faith, whose boundless love, joy, and generosity of spirit touched every person he knew.

Nate Deen

Nate Deen’s Story

As a child I never imagined the turbulent, dark future that awaited me. From a tragic childhood, into my tumultuous teen years, including time in prison, this very real darkness tried desperately to destroy me from a very early age. But through all the difficult times God had a plan to rescue me. At the very center of that plan was Mr Stan Deen.

I lost both my parents at a very young age. I was a witness to their death, which as you can image, left me traumatized. Everyone kept telling me that I didn’t see the things I saw. I turned inward, not speaking a word for two years. Counselors tried to convince me to speak using bribes with a candy bar. I learned not to trust adults, authority figures, or their motivations.

After my parents’ death, I was dropped off at a local orphanage, which increased the instability of my life. At sixteen years old I ran away from the home I was currently living in. My foster parents never came looking for me, or told anyone that I was missing. For the next two years I lived out of my car. I became very resourceful at attaining the things I needed. I would siphon gas from other cars, shower at school… yes I kept going to school. I was really good at sports and needed to attend school to be involved, plus I was able to shower and do laundry without anyone suspecting anything.

The darkness continued to influence as I made repeated flawed choices, one of which was my circle of friends.  I was smoking, drinking, and doing drugs. When I got caught with merchandise we had stolen in my car, life went down hill quickly.

Days later, I was humiliated in front of the whole school as I was being marched out of class in handcuffs. The cops questioned me about being an accomplice to the burglary, later finding all the evidence in my car. While bleak, this is the situation that brought Stan into my life permanently.

The first time I met Mr Deen was entering his classroom for The Bible as Literature. I was a skinny rail, hadn’t eaten for several days. He knew nothing about me, but gave me the biggest candy bar I had ever seen, wanting nothing in return! After this Mr Deen would notice me in the halls and greet me like any other student. When I was walked out by the police, Mr Deen noticed and was moved to action.

Stan came to visit me in prison. As soon as I saw him on the other side of the plexiglass I started to sob, thinking he was going to yell at me. To my surprise, he wanted to help get me out of prison and back in school. Stan vouched for me during the hearing and agreed that he would take responsibility for me. In order to return to school I needed a home address. Stan invited me to live with him. He was serious about getting me back in school. I had to work hard to get my grades up enough to graduate. Stan helped me study and helped me get a paying job. I became the son he never had and he became the father I so desperately needed.

I am so grateful to Stan for standing by me and pushing me. He saw potential in me, even when I couldn’t see it myself. He gave me hope for a better future. I started helping Stan while he worked on local productions. The change did not happen overnight. I still made some bad choices but Stan was there to teach me how to make better ones. Now that I have been rescued from the darkness of my past, I want to share the story of how Stan Deen helped me, so that others might find hope and let their light shine.


Each and every one of us can have a large and profound impact on the lives of those around us. There is an extraordinary power that can be unleashed by reaching out a helping hand to someone in need. How do we know this is true? Because Nathaniel Deen’s story is a real example of how something as simple as a candy bar, an act of kindness, changed his life forever. (see Nate’s story above) His life story of survival, hope, and unconditional love centers around his experience escaping the darkness of his past, with help from one of the most unlikely people: a teacher, Mr. Stan Deen. Stan not only planted the seed of hope but helped to nurture that seed as he and Nate became a family. For this reason, THE STAN DEEN FOUNDATION has been established.

On the closing day of every GSPA show, Mr. Stan Deen would send his student off with this inspiration…

“If there’s anything I could really encourage you all to do is have some visions and dreams for what you can become. Because everybody has been given certain abilities, certain talents and aspirations, and I would hope that you would use those to their fullest, wherever you go.”


Memories are special moments that tell our Story

Thank You to Our Donors

  • Art/Media Department at Sight & Sound Theatres
  • Scott & Jenn Wimer
  • J.D. Shuman
  • Jessica Deen
  • Open Door Tabernacle
  • Paul Griffin
  • Diana Law
  • Gustavo Guarin
  • Brian McCreary
  • Jessica Woods
  • Lori Montgomery
  • Kristen Kent
  • John Spencer
  • Josh Graber
  • PFL Charities
  • Ruth Rowe
  • Kaleb Roberts
  • Pamela Dixon
  • Carmen Howard
  • Cierra Lawrence
  • Tia Brewer
  • Micah Lucas
  • Jordon Cox

Get In Touch

If you would like more info about THE STAN DEEN FOUNDATION, please reach out to us.

Support Us

By donating to THE STAN DEEN FOUNDATION today, you will help to plant the seed of hope in the life of someone in need. Our actions, no matter how small, have a ripple effect and can indeed change the world.