Local charity asking for votes from real estate community
Realtors have the opportunity to make local charity Stephen’s Backpacks Society the home of a $25,000 grant.
“A big part of what we do is find people homes and what wonderful Realtors do is go out and find homes for people. Wouldn’t that be wonderful if this grant came in and it went to finding people homes?” said Nancy McPhee, co-founder of Stephen’s Backpacks Society.
Stephen’s Backpacks was founded by a local Airdrie family, the McPhees, when son Stephen showed an interest in ending homelessness at a young age. The local, not-for-profit group has grown since its inception in 2006, offering annual programs, including a campaign that collects backpacks full of Christmas gifts and Footprints, which provides new shoes for kids going back to school. The charity assists people in Calgary and area.
Calgary Realtor for RE/MAX Real Estate Central Martin Durocher who lives in Airdrie nominated Stephen’s Backpacks for the grant.
“They provide just a great support system for primarily children and young families at risk,” Durocher said.
He and his family met the McPhees through their local church and have volunteered with them since the charity started, stuffing backpacks, helping with the Footprints campaign, as well as with other fundraising events.
He said he nominated Stephen’s Backpacks because the organization spans further than just Airdrie, reaching Calgary and surrounding areas and because of the family’s willingness to help those who are less fortunate.
“It’s wonderful when people trust you that much to put your name in for a grant,” McPhee said, adding she is happy the community acknowledges the Society’s work.
McPhee said if Stephen’s Backpacks receives the grant, the money would be used for this winter’s Project Hope campaign that transitions families from shelters into homes.
“There are so many people that don’t have homes and so many people that fall on hard times,” McPhee said. “We could probably (help) three families if we got this grant.”
McPhee said without the grant, the charity will try to help one family this Christmas.
McPhee said she appreciates the nomination because Stephen’s Backpacks relies on the generosity of the community to continue helping others.
“We do fundraising, we have regular donors, we have corporations that really like what we’re doing, we have volunteers, we get gifts in kind,” she said. “When these things come in they’re a wonderful gift,” McPhee said. “We would be really grateful.”
Jodi Larmour, administrator for the Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB) Charitable Foundation, said the grants are part of a 25-year anniversary celebration for the foundation.
“It’s a total of $625,000 that we’re distributing,” she said.
There are 25 grants being distributed in conjunction with the 25-year anniversary.
Ten of them were selected by the foundation and 15 were left to be chosen by members through a nomination and voting process.
“We can let them direct these funds to the organizations they are passionate about,” Larmour said. “It is a way to give back to our members.”
She said 86 organizations have been nominated.
“We’ve split the grants into three categories – community enhancement, shelter, and vulnerable populations,” she said.
Five grants will be distributed to each category. Stephen’s Backpacks falls under the vulnerable populations category.
“All of the CREB Realtors have 10 votes per day to vote for whichever organization they like,” Larmour said.
“Anyone who is licensed by the Calgary Real Estate Board will be eligible to vote,” she added.
“If anyone is a Realtor or knows a Realtor, we want to get them out voting.”
Voting started Sept. 24 and ends Oct. 21 at 12 p.m. To vote and view live updates on which charities are winning, visit www.cf25for25.creb.com
Winning organizations will be announced Oct. 21 and receive funds at the CREB Holiday Luncheon on Dec. 13.
“We would really appreciate (Realtors’) support and votes,” McPhee said.
“We would certainly put it to good use. There would be three families that would be very, very happy this Christmas.”