As Zero Ceiling gets set to kick off a three-year growth plan, the Whistler-based youth charity is getting an assist from a local benefactor.
Peter Blitz, founder of MaxHire Solutions and partner with Social Ventures Partners (SVP) — a foundation that aims to help youth reach their potential — recently pledged $20,000 to Zero Ceiling.
"It's pretty rare. Especially unsolicited," said Kasi Lubin, executive director of Zero Ceiling.
"That would be a sizable grant that we could receive potentially, and even that is rare... so yeah, Peter's our angel."
The donation will help support Zero Ceiling as it expands its programming this summer.
"We're in the process of growing our Work to Live program... we're starting a summer program this June," Lubin said.
"We've been running a winter program for many, many years, but this is the first time we're running a summer program, so (the donation) is going to help us expand our programming."
The summer Work to Live program will be very similar to the winter version, Lubin said, where at-risk and homeless youth from Vancouver and the Sea to Sky corridor are brought to Whistler to take part.
The expansion into the summer months is the beginning of a three-year growth plan for Zero Ceiling.
"Each season for the next couple of years we're going to be adding a couple of kids to our program," Lubin said.
"So this summer we'll have two, next summer we'll have four and the summer after that we'll have six, and the same with our winter program. This winter we'll have six, then we'll go up to eight and we'll see how it grows from there."
Given the relatively small size of Zero Ceiling's programs, applicants benefit from a more personalized approach, Lubin said.
"They get a lot of attention and we have a lot of support within the community," she said.
"We do stuff like yoga and ride the mountain every week, we do life coaching and adventure activities... and if they have a particular interest, if they're interested in writing we can connect them to the writers' group, if they're interested in music we connect them to local musicians.
"That's the beauty of our program, I think, is that it's so small and that we can cater to what they really like."
Blitz — who has lived in Whistler the past two winters and on and off in the summer — said he learned of Zero Ceiling through a fundraiser at his gym.
"They have such a fantastic impact driver mission — getting people into a healthy environment in Whistler and getting them active in sports and helping them become employed," Blitz said.
"So it's a great concept that they have and they really are just getting off the ground in terms of that program, so they really need assistance."
Aside from the monetary donation, Blitz will stay involved with Zero Ceiling through SVP.
"It's much more than just a financial investment, it's an investment of time and expertise to help small non-profits grow from a very small organization like they are to a much larger one, hopefully," he said.
Since its inception in 1997, Zero Ceiling has assisted more than 4,000 youth.
Its annual fundraising event — Hullabaloo 2015 — is scheduled for April 9 at the Scandinave Spa. For tickets, visit zeroceiling.org/events.