About the Stan Deen Foundation

The Foundation

THE STAN DEEN FOUNDATION is a registered 501c3 organization. All donations to this organization are tax exempt. Contributions support: Children & Teen survivors of traumatic events including being a witness to or victim of Domestic Violence/Drug abuse, etc.

Our mission: Improve the quality of life of children & teen survivors who have been through a traumatic event. By partnering with local and national Foundations. “Helping Survivors” is a broad mission designed specifically to allow flexibility in options for assisting and benefiting adolescents with a plethora of issues. Counseling services, mission retreats, humanitarian experiences, college tuition assistance, etc. are all avenues we will consider as a means for changing the direction of surviving children & teens.

A significant number of children & 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 and also causes horror, terror, or helplessness at the time it occurs. Traumatic events include sexual abuse, physical abuse, domestic violence, community & school violence, medical trauma, motor vehicle accidents, suicides, and traumatic loses.

THE STAN DEEN FOUNDATION 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 survive and heal. It is our sincerest hope and intention that the information and resources we provide can help along that journey…Brave the Dark & Let Your Light Shine!

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.

We are deeply honored by your support.

Nathaniel D. Deen

In The News

‘Brave the Dark’ based on Garden Spot teacher set to begin filming here in the fall

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‘Brave the Dark’ starring Jared Harris and Nicholas Hamilton wraps up filming

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Climactic Scene Shot at Poplar Neck Bridge for Upcoming Film, Brave the Dark

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Extras fill McCaskey High School stands for filming of ‘Brave the Dark’

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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, God had a plan to rescue me from the brooding darkness.

This very real darkness tried desperately to destroy me from a very early age. When I was five years old, I witnessed the brutal murder of my mother, committed by my father, before killing himself. No child should ever witness the things I saw.

Through this experience, I learned not to trust adults. Everyone kept telling me that I didn’t see the things I saw. I turned inward, not saying a word for about two years.

Because of my tragic childhood I had to meet to a counselor quite often. Reinforcing my distrust of authority, I completely shut down when he kept prying me to talk. He teased me with a Hershey’s chocolate bar, offering me a piece if I would just speak a few words to him.

I ended up moving from foster home to foster home and when I turned sixteen, I decided to run away, my current foster parents never came looking for me, and never told anyone that I left. I became resourceful when it came to surviving on my own. While living out of my car I would siphon gas to keep my tank full and I would shower at school after running track. No one ever suspected anything.

The darkness tried even harder to creep back into my life, through flawed choices and making friends with strong yet bad influencers, I found myself smoking, drinking, and experimenting with drugs. One night, I was pressured to keep some stolen merchandise in my car that my “friends” had stolen. Thankfully, God had a plan to shine another light in my life as things got really dark.

Sometimes in life help comes from unexpected people. My help would come from a teacher, he was an English / and Bible as Literature teacher. I remember the first-time meeting Stan Deen; I came into his classroom, skinny as a rail and he did the unthinkable. To someone he knew nothing about, or without wanting something from me, he gave me the biggest Hershey’s chocolate bar I’d ever seen.

Days later, I found myself humiliated in front of the whole school as I was being marched out of class in handcuffs. The cops had questions me during school about being an accomplice to a burglary, which, later, they found all the evidence in my car.

I sat in my orange jumpsuit on the top bunk in the county prison when the guard called out I had a visitor. Turns out, it was Mr. Stan Deen.

I shuffled into the room, opposite him on the other side of the Plexiglas separating us. I started to bawl, asking him if he was going to yell at me; to my surprise, he wanted to help me.

By chance, my grandmother who had dropped me off at the orphanage, came to the prison to bail me out, and offered to let me stay with her until I got back on my feet. Stan came to visit me one day with an absurd idea, he wanted to get me back into school. My grandmother lived twenty miles away from the school district and we couldn’t afford to drive that distance every day. With another crazy idea, Stan invited me to live with him with the permission of my grandmother. She agreed it was a good idea.

Stan was serious about getting me back in school. I had to work hard to get my grades up so I could graduate. After successfully graduating, I had to serve out my sentencing in prison. Luckily, the judge was good friends with my teacher, Stan Deen, and elected to have me serve my time only on the weekends.

Aside from teaching, Stan was also directing Behold the Lamb at Sight & Sound Theatres and Fiddler on the Roof for Garden Spot Performing Arts at Garden Spot High School. Glenn Eshelman, founder of Sight & Sound, came to see Fiddler at Garden Spot while I was helping Stan with the production. I met Glenn and he asked me to come to Sight & Sound to see him. Within minutes of meeting and talking with him, he gave me a job. He gave me some directions on the spotlight and the job was mine.

Although I was in a better place, my heart was not fully invested. I was still smoking, drinking and doing drugs quite often. Everything came to a head when Stan went away for the weekend and I decided to host a party at his house. However, everything went wrong. Stan came home to a destroyed house. Rightfully so, Stan was angry.

Instead of facing correction, I defaulted back to old habits and poor choices. I went to a party and tried to bury my pain with a near lethal dose of LSD. The police found me after jumping off a bridge.

I found myself in the hospital the next morning after having my stomach pumped. The authorities gave me a choice, stay with Stan or go to jail. I chose Stan.

Now that I have been rescued from the darkness of my past, I want to share my story, so that others might find hope and let their light shine.

Stan & Nate’s Story

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 Busko’s (now Nathaniel Deen) story is a real example of how something as simple as a candy bar, an act of kindness, changed his life forever. (see Nathaniel’s story below) 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.”

Memorable Moments

Memories are special moments that tell our Story

Thank You to Our Donors

  • Art/Media Department at Sight & Sound Theatres
  • Scott & Jenn Wimer
  • Harold Brown
  • Melinda Banks
  • Jesus Navarro
  • Lauren Walker
  • Toni Chen
  • Kenneth Hicks
  • Cassandra Barrett
  • Jakob Todd
  • Monique Gutierrez
  • Toni Floyd
  • Yesenia Green
  • Dominic Barker
  • 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.