Every Tuesday, Paul Baxter heads to Whistler mountain, bike or snowboard in tow, to share his local know-how with the Zero Ceiling Work 2 Live crew. Having lived in Whistler since 2011, he knows a few secret spots that he’s more than happy to share. He also knows a thing or two about mountain biking, and spent many a scorching afternoon coaching the guys through their first rock rolls, blue runs and jumps last summer.

A group of people on mountain bikes talk and laugh together

Enjoying a day in Whistler mountain bike park with the crew

A cause close to Paul’s heart

Paul first started volunteering with the Work 2 Live crew as a Weekly Ride Day volunteer last July. Our cause is close to Paul’s heart. Originally from Sydney, Australia, he was in foster care himself until the age of 18. He says he had a “fantastic” foster family, and always wanted to give something back to those who help young people in care.

When he moved out, he was invited to volunteer with the Create Foundation, who advocate for all children and young people in care to be able to reach their full potential. A large proportion of young people who experience homelessness have aged out of the foster care system. And the same is true for participants in our Work 2 Live program.

After studying hotel management, Paul travelled, before eventually settling in Canada in 2009. Later, he moved to Whistler and began working in the tourism sector here. Last year, he says, he began to feel “something was missing”. He thought back to his great experiences volunteering in Australia, and began to look for places in Whistler where he could make a difference.

“I’m inspired by it”

That’s when he found Zero Ceiling, and jumped at the chance to spend days up the mountain, sharing his knowledge and getting to know the Work 2 Live crew. And it’s definitely had the positive impact he hoped. He told us, “The freshness and enthusiasm of the Zero Ceiling Work 2 Live crew inspires me to be part of the stoke. It’s contagious and always puts a smile on my face.”

A group of people pose on a whitewater raft on the Elaho river

We survived the Elaho river! Celebrating graduation for some of our Work 2 Live crew in 2017

Paul’s enthusiasm and connection with the crew was obvious, and we were thrilled when he agreed to be a volunteer mentor too. He now mentors Dakota, their shared love of mountain biking making them a great match. The pair ride together, trying new things and catching up on life. Paul provides advice when he’s asked for it, or simply listens. To him, that’s one of the most important things a mentor can do.