Volunteer Spotlight: Paul Deyo

We’re going to need a bigger spotlight.

To shine a light on all the goodness that Paul Deyo brings to Norte is near impossible. His fingerprints are all over Norte’s growth in the last four years. He builds. He fixes. He plans. He’s even the Master of Fun.

“Volunteering is a responsibility for everybody,” said Deyo. “I like to build things, so when can I use that as part of the volunteer experience I do. Otherwise, I do what people tell me to do.”

If he isn’t building or fixing something for Norte—or TART Trails, the Grand Traverse Regional Conservancy, or some other fortunate organization—you’ll likely find Paul in his workshop at his home in Holiday Hills. He says he’s constantly learning and working to improve his skills. He wears that work ethic and growth mindset like a hat. It’s hard to miss, and it inspires everyone who comes in contact with him.

He was sledding at the Civic Center with his granddaughter in 2017 when he saw a curious sign at the Norte Clubhouse. He was trying to figure out what it meant, so he walked in and introduced himself. That’s when he met Laura Otwell. They chatted about the mission, a shared love of riding bicycles, and a genuine belief in creating opportunities for children. Laura happened to be preparing for the Grand Opening of the Clubhouse. There were donated tools and shelves waiting for installation, so Paul jumped into action.

“It’s not always easy to find your place (as a volunteer) in an organization. It was serendipitous when I met Laura,” he said. “I have a thing for maintenance, building, and taking care of stuff. You’ve got to have something that excites you and that you enjoy. Taking care of things is one of them for me. Luckily, Norte has given me that.”

Paul, and his wife Chris, moved up north from the Detroit area about ten years ago to be closer to family. He worked from his home for a few years as a software interface designer before retiring. They fell in love with the access to trails and biking culture here, and almost instantly, they both started to volunteer: first with Recycle-a Bicycle and TART Trails, and then with Norte.

“I really love riding bikes. I think it is a great opportunity to have freedom. It’s almost like flying,” he said. “There’s something about the freedom that it provides you. I want kids to have that experience.”

Norte is so much more with the Paul around. This year, in addition to fixing bikes, building skills tracks, and general odds and ends at the Wheelhouse, he is following other interests and volunteering as an assistant coach for Adventure Bike Club. Next winter, he’d like to help with balance bike programs in schools. He’s helping create a course for the National Cherry Festival Kids Balance Bike Race this July 3. This challenge is where he earns the title, Master of Fun.

“Just help others. That’s our responsibility,” Paul said in closing. “It’s our responsibility to take care of our community.”

Thank you, Paul. For taking such good care of Norte and your community. 🧡


If you’re interested in Joining Paul and hundreds of other outstanding individuals as a volunteer, fill out an application and let us know. We love making new friends. Also, join us at the June 16 TC Rides as we dedicate the first slow roll of the summer to our wonderful volunteers. In the fall, we fittingly award a super volunteer The Paul Deyo Service Award


COVID POLICY: Norte is committed to the safety and well-being of our community. We confidently deliver programs and events because our staff and families follow preventive measures and monitoring protocols for COVID-19. We also generally look out for each other and stay outside as much as possible. If you are unvaccinated, please wear a mask. We encourage everyone eligible to vaccinate as soon as possible. If you are not feeling well, please join us the next time when you feel better. Let’s work together and #stopthespread.