As we approach the holidays, Whistler’s Zero Ceiling is challenging the Sea to Sky to get in the spirit of giving, inspired by a recent generous donation to the social-service non-profit.
This fall, the organization dedicated to fighting youth homelessness received an anonymous donation of $10,000. Now, it’s inviting Whistler and the rest of the corridor to double it.
“We often look at these as an expression of people’s dedication to our work, and also a vote of confidence. I think a lot of our donors want their money to go towards something that has impact, so we always look at it as a compliment,” said co-executive director Sean Easton of the donation. “We’ve only been able to support all the young folks in our program because of our community’s support, and this is a continuation of that.”
Founded in 1997, Zero Ceiling serves youth and young adults facing homelessness in the Sea to Sky and Metro Vancouver. Its award-winning core program, Work 2 Live, offers supportive housing and employment opportunities to young adults experiencing homelessness or precarious housing. This fall, the organization welcomed six new Work 2 Live participants, who are all working for employment partner Whistler Blackcomb this winter.
Its other main program, Adventure Sessions, offers a no-cost outdoor adventure day camp for young people experiencing homelessness, giving them a chance to connect with nature and each other in a safe environment. In 2024, Zero Ceiling anticipates welcoming 300-plus young people through the program to experience skiing, snowboarding, hiking, ziplining, and mountain biking in Whistler.
Zero Ceiling’s matching fundraising campaign, launched on Nov. 21, challenges supporters to raise another $10,000 by Dec. 5. Anyone who donates by then will be entered into a draw to win a family day pass at the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish.
Easton said he’s always impressed by the community’s outpouring of support, especially as many have seen their finances strained in recent years.
“To date, we’ve seen where some donors that have historically contributed on an ongoing basis, where they might be tightening their purse strings so they can support their loves ones, we’re seeing others step up in their place,” he said. “In those times, we see an increase in empathy, and I think that translates to continued support. We really feel our community coming in around us and we still really feel that.”
It's been a period of transition for Zero Ceiling. In May, co-executive director Chris Wrightson announced her resignation after seven years with the non-profit. In June, former development manager Lizi McLoughlin was promoted to the executive director role, which she shares with Easton. That’s on top of an internal restructuring and the continued growth of the organization, in budget, programming and staff.
“We were really excited to be able to mentor and promote from within, and I was really excited to provide an opportunity to Lizi,” Easton said. “She has surpassed all of our high expectations of her.”
McLoughlin, who was unavailable for comment, recently helped Zero Ceiling replace an existing skills-training contract it had with B.C.’s Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills.
“It’s just an example of her stepping into the role and achieving right out the gate,” said Easton.
Emily Suckling, formerly of Arts Whistler and Whistler Animals Galore, is Zero Ceiling’s new development manager.
Learn more, and donate, at zeroceiling.org/donatetodouble.