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

Nathaniel Deen, lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania with his wife Jessica, their two mini-golden-doodles, Winston & Remi, & their cat, Lucy. Nate has 30 plus years experience in professional photography, theater & film and is currently self employed as a Film Producer. Nathaniel’s life story has been made into a feature film called Brave the Dark, which centers around his experience of escaping the darkness of his past. With the help and unconditional love from a teacher, Mr. Stan Deen, Nathaniel was able to begin the healing process as he and Stan became a family. In 2018 Nathaniel and Jessica officially changed their last name to DEEN to honor Stan and the love he showed Nathaniel. Along with Brave the Dark, Nathaniel has launched The Stan Deen Foundation, to help inspire hope in others who have struggled with traumatic experiences in life.

Nate on set during the filming of


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.