Today we are going to share the story and latest news of Tandempark! The online volunteer engagement platform, based here in Barrie, is a local story of disruption and innovation in an under served sector and this year is already off to an exciting start. In addition to continuing to see growth across their membership, we are excited to share the news that Tandempark founder and CEO, Liam Squires, will be leading a workshop at the Festival & Events Ontario Conference in London! Liam has also been busy working with the City of Barrie on a pilot project to help volunteers and local organizations get connected as well keeping busy with his day-to-day operations on the volunteer platform!
Tandempark began four years ago, in the fall of 2014. Liam was completing the Event Management Post-Graduate Certificate at Georgian College when he noticed a gap between organizations and volunteers. There was a disconnect with finding volunteers, managing them, and the volunteers were struggling to find opportunities that excited them. With that, Liam built Tandempark. Tandempark is a platform that enables organizations to grow and develop their volunteer resources more effectively, reducing the administrative workload. This platform allows organizations to recruit and schedule volunteers, manage internal communications, and track volunteer hours. As a volunteer, this platform allows you too see opportunities available within the community and sign up with the click of a button.
“We want to help people shape and transform the communities they live in and love. By providing a platform that helps organizations work more efficiently and makes it easier for people to discover and get involved in volunteer opportunities, they’re better equipped to work together to build strong, vibrant, connected communities.” – Liam Squires
This year, Liam was invited to lead the workshop ‘Awareness to Action’ at the FEO Conference at the end of February. This conference provides education, professional development and networking to those who work within the festival industry. Liam will be sharing his expertise and experience in marketing, human behaviour, and volunteering, and talking about how organizations can be more effective at recruiting the right volunteers. When we asked him how he felt about speaking he said “Exciting and terrifying” with a laugh. This is a great chance for Liam to share his knowledge with event planners from across Ontario about the benefits of having an effective volunteer system, not only for the event but for the community the event is taking place in.
For over a year, Tandempark has also been working directly with the City of Barrie to help organizations build their volunteer program. Lindsay Babcock, from the Creative Economy has been working with Liam to give Tandempark membership to 12 organizations throughout Barrie. This is an opportunity that would not be available due to things like limited budgets for these selected organizations. Lindsay stated that, “for us (City of Barrie), ultimately, our goal is to work to create the most livable city for our residents. To create sense of community and engagement in this city.” The project has been such a success that in the near future the City will be working with 12 new organizations. These organizations will include the arts, healthcare, long-term care, as well as technology and innovation.
“Getting people engaged in the community, whether its with our organization or others, fosters the community and builds it up. It gives volunteers something outside of their day to day world and work schedule, to help make them passionate about something. Tandempark makes it easy for that to happen in our city and we’re excited about the engagement we’re seeing grow.” – Lindsay Babcock
It is so clear to me the passion that Liam has for this business. He called it a Labor of Love. This business is something he works on outside of his 9-5 job, and in between taking care of his family. His voice lit up when he was sharing this story with me, as it should, because what he has created is making everlasting memories for those who are new to the Barrie community. Liam told me about the afternoon he met, Piyush. Liam was loading up after an event when Piyush, a volunteer at the event, offered to help. With gratitude Liam accepted. The two got talking and Piyush told Liam how much he loved Tandempark. He explained that within 3 months of moving from India and calling Barrie home, he was able to connect with the community. Piyush learned about several volunteer opportunities through Tandempark with Georgian College’s GCSA, Growing Georgian, and Celebrate Barrie. By volunteering with those events Piyush was able to learn more about Barrie and everything this city has to offer. He was able to meet new people and gained valuable experience. Because of his volunteer experience, Piyush is now in Toronto in an exciting co-op placement with BMO. He credits the experiences he gained through volunteering for helping him secure this opportunity.
“Tandempark is an amazing platform for newcomers as they get to know the place and culture around them through volunteering, which will not only improve their soft skills but also will help to connect them to the community.” – Piyush S.
Liam finished the story by saying “Those are the wins for us.” Georgian College welcomes many international students each year, and it is great to know there are businesses in Barrie, like Tandempark, that are helping to create great experiences for these students. Tandempark is not only helping international students, but community volunteers and senior volunteers join new initiatives. These volunteers are helping organizations to be more sustainable and effective.
It truly is a win.