When Canadian REALTORS Care® Award 2021 recipient Gregg Bamford is asked about his proudest volunteering achievement, he admits it’s something he rarely takes a moment to stop and think about.
Close to 20 years ago, Bamford offered to lend a helping hand at a local after-school program. From that moment on, he never stopped volunteering, and has since grown into a community leader whose innovative idea—derived from years of engaging with charities—is supporting Saskatoon’s non-profit sector like never before.
Looking back at some of his early volunteering endeavours, Bamford had a simple guiding principle: “I’m willing to help and put in time as long as it’s going to a good cause.” This willingness, matched with his passion for making sure kids have a fair shot in life, led Bamford to getting involved with both the aforementioned local after-school program and as a coach in the Kinsmen Inner City Hockey League. It didn’t take long for Bamford to become very interested in volunteering and go on to lead largescale charity initiatives for the children of Saskatoon.
“I guess the journey kept on going,” reflected Bamford. “There’s so many ways where one thing leads to the next, and then you meet more people who become friends, that all are interested in doing the same thing.”
On Thursday, May 13, at 3 p.m. EDT, tune into CREA’s Instagram for a live conversation with Bamford on his journey and One Small Step.
Bamford went on to organize WakeRide, a three-day wakeboarding festival that raised $150,000 for local organizations over its lifespan. He got deeply involved with Haven Family Connections, where he currently is the Board’s Chair, and created Sask Country Showcase, an intimate singer-songwriter event that connected attendees with some of the biggest names in Saskatchewan music, such as Tenille Arts and Jess Moskaluke. Bamford also became an instrumental force behind Operation Santa, where for the past decade he has personally delivered gifts to more than 2,000 children and families in need.
In 2018, Bamford had a transformational experience when he walked in the shoes of people experiencing homelessness in his community as a participant in the 36-hour Sanctum Survivor Challenge. This opened his eyes to the realities so many people in his hometown face and the critical programs provided by local non-profits that even he, as a dedicated volunteer, had no idea existed. He said he was inspired to help raise awareness about what he had learned and came up with the idea for an online platform that connects donors to local non-profits.
Partnering with his Sanctum Survivor Challenge partner, Alice Kuipers, Bamford’s vision came to life as the pair launched OneSmallStepSK.ca in late 2020. One Small Step was created in recognition of non-profits being nose to the grindstone, focused on the essential work they need to do for vulnerable people. With their laser-sharp focus on serving their clients, it’s hard for non-profit staff to find the time to convey their needs and story to potential donors. One Small Step was created to help fill this gap.
The online platform started with 12 organizations, and since then more than 50 organizations have reached out to be included. Bamford’s thoughtful approach to the platform is to be thanked for much of its popularity amongst charities. “He spent endless hours talking to non-profits about what they did, talking to them about One Small Step, working with them so that it’s something that would be easy for them to use, and that’s so appreciated,” reflected Dionne Miazdyck-Shield, Executive Director of Haven Family Connections.
While currently focused on perfecting the website in Saskatoon, Bamford’s goal is to eventually roll out One Small Step in Regina as well, and then share the template with the rest of the country.
Bamford’s story exemplifies how taking that first, small step can snowball into incredible impact. When asked to give advice to other REALTORS® who are thinking of getting more involved, he echoed that sentiment: “When I look at this, I never thought that I would have been lucky enough to be part of these initiatives… Just start small. Find something that you’re passionate about, and if you like it that much more then step up and be a bigger part of that organization.”