Gregg Bamford has been honoured with the Canadian REALTORS Care® Award 2021 Proudly Presented by REALTOR.ca, for his longstanding support of nonprofits in Saskatoon.
For Gregg Bamford, real estate is a family affair, as he has worked closely with brothers Ryan and Kevin throughout his career. He has used the flexibility that comes with being a REALTOR® to become deeply involved with local charities who support Saskatoon’s most vulnerable.
Gregg’s volunteering journey began in the early 2000s, when he got involved with a local after-school program and started coaching for the Kinsmen Inner City Hockey League. “I’ve always believed that every child deserves an opportunity,” explained Gregg, “so my passion revolves around programs that centre around children.”
Gregg went on to organize numerous largescale charity initiatives. Alongside long-time friend Mike Napper, Bamford created WakeRide, a three-day wakeboarding festival in Victoria Park, that raised $150,000 for local charities supporting inner-city youth. He 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, which benefitted Haven Family Connections, an organization for which he is currently the board chair. He transformed a small Christmas hamper program into Operation Santa, a grassroots initiative that has provided gifts to more than 2,000 underprivileged children over the past 10 years. Not only does Gregg help source donations for this cause, but he also personally delivers holiday joy to the families it serves, dressed as Santa Claus.
“I had reached out to Gregg to see if he’d be interested in adopting a family through our very small hamper program… Gregg’s immediate response was, ‘I don’t want just one family. Give me 10,’” said Katelyn Roberts, Co-founder of Operation Santa and Executive Director of Sanctum Care Group. “That’s how I initially met Gregg. It started with an ask and led to Gregg being involved in a very big way with Operation Santa.”
In 2018, Gregg was invited to participate in the Sanctum Survivor Challenge, a 36-hour endeavour where community leaders walk in the shoes of those experiencing homelessness. The challenge turned into a life-changing event for Gregg.
He was partnered with Alice Kuipers and her eight-year-old son, Theo. They were tasked with going through various challenges that those experiencing homelessness would go through on a daily basis. For Gregg, the whole experience was eye-opening: “Everybody’s got a story and, as the saying goes, ‘You can’t judge somebody until you walk a mile in their shoes.’”
After experiencing the Sanctum Survivor Challenge, Gregg was inspired to create change for vulnerable members of his community. Throughout the 36-hour journey, Gregg was shocked by the numerous, critical services local non-profits provided that even he, as a committed volunteer, was unaware of. He came up with the innovative idea of creating a website that would connect his community with information about local non-profits, their programs and their real-time needs. Gregg joined forces with his Sanctum Challenge partner Alice Kuipers to bring this vision to life.
Informed by extensive consultations with non-profits, Indigenous leaders, local politicians, website designers, donors, and more, Gregg and Alice created OneSmallStepSK.ca.
Launched in November 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, it is hard to convey their needs and story to potential donors. One Small Step was created to help fill this gap and inform potential donors. “Executive Directors have told us that it just makes it much easier for them to be able to quickly update and share their needs with the general public so that they can get on with the work that they need to do,” said Co-Founder Alice Kuipers.
The online platform started with 12 organizations, and since then more than 50 organizations have reached out to be included. Gregg’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.
Getting One Small Step up and running in one community is a remarkable feat, but for Gregg Bamford, when there is more impact to be made, it’s only the beginning: “The idea is building this out as a template to be able to be shared with other cities in our province and then across the country, but making sure we got it right in Saskatoon from the very beginning.”
In Gregg’s honour, the Canadian Real Estate Association has donated $5,000 to Haven Family Connections. Click here to see the 73 REALTORS® nominated for the Canadian REALTORS Care® Award 2021.