Breakthrough On the Front Page

On December 4th, 2015, in advance of our Breakthrough group’s first Breakthrough Hunger event, participant and youth leader, Stephanie Rich was interviewed by the Cape Breton Post. Stephanie is a former Youth Peer participant and continues to be a valued member of the Breakthrough group. Stephanie_article_large

From the article:

The Sydney resident was struggling in school when she first joined Youth Peer at age 12. It offered her tutoring and mentoring support, as well as exposure to art programs.

“Math was extremely hard, and English, I couldn’t write an essay,” Rich said. “Youth Peer helped me through everything.”

Seven years later, and still involved with Breakthrough, Rich is a graduate of Memorial High where she received her electrical trade.

“I was dedicated to it. I loved it. It’s family there,” Rich said of Breakthrough. “If it wasn’t for Youth Peer, I probably wouldn’t have taken a trade or anything like that.

“We consider ourselves family. The first day there, you’re welcomed.”

In particular, Rich noted the assistance that EPIC founder Barry Waldman offered as she sought out employment.

She believes the programs have resulted in participants finding themselves in much ikmproved circumstances.

“They would probably be on a worse path than what they were, I think Breakthrough guides them,” Rich said.

Delores Feltmate, a co-director with the program, noted that Breakthrough is geared at high-risk young adults aged 18-30, many of whom have faced challenges such as mental health issues, homelessness, addiction and poverty.

“They meet together once a week as a support group and once again to serve in the community,” Feltmate said.

“They support each other through tough times, turn to each other, help each other cope, and they’re doing very, very well.”

Thank you, Stephanie, for once again putting yourself out there for others.

The dinner that the group planned and worked toward for months was a huge success. Read about it on our Breakthrough page here.

The Donner Awards

Since 2007, EPIC has been proud to be the recipient of recognition from The Donner Foundation of Canada as finalist and winner of many awards for excellence in the delivery of social services, including as a finalist for the Child Care category in 2014.

At the end of this year’s competition, we received notice that the foundation felt that they had succeeded in the goals they had set for themselves when they instituted this program and would no longer be holding the awards program.

EPIC is grateful for the recognition, financial support and the opportunity to further its own mission by participating in and being rewarded by this nationwide competition and will continue to hold with pride the awards we earned.

Our regards and best wishes to all of the fine individuals and organizations we’ve come to know through working with the Donner Foundation in the last eight years.

William H. Donner Award goes to EPIC!

On December 6th in Toronto, Ontario–at the provincial Lieutenant Governor’s residence–EPIC took home the $20,000 William H. Donner Award for Excellence in the Delivery of Social Services, the overall award for the highest-performing agency in Canada. This is the second time EPIC has earned this national recognition. The first time was in 2010. EPIC also won its category, Excellence in the Delivery of Services for Children, which brings with it a $5,000 prize.

On hand to accept this award was Barb Donovan, former and long-time Director of Youth Peer Program and now Facilitator of our burgeoning Breakthrough program.

Barb Donovan accepts the Donner Foundation Awards, December 6th 2013

Barb Donovan accepts the Donner Foundation Awards, December 6th 2013

The Donner Canadian Foundation Awards are held each year. This year, EPIC was the best managed agency out of approximately 500 applicants from all over Canada.
Thank you to the volunteers, staff and management team of the Youth Peer Breakthrough and Parents PEACE Program and the EPIC volunteer Board of Directors for making this little charity one of the best in Canada!

Please give: Here’s where, and why

EPIC is delighted to have been included in Margaret Wente’s column “Please give: Here’s where, and why” in the Saturday, December 22 edition of The Globe and Mail.

From Margaret’s column:

    If you’re in a giving mood, here’s a personal selection of charities where your money will go far. I’ve written about several of them through the years. They’re heavily skewed toward services for high-risk children and adolescents, where an intervention at the right time can make a big difference. Most of these groups have been recognized for excellence by either Charity Intelligence or the Donner Foundation, which evaluate charitable groups for transparency, accountability and value for money. All began as small grassroots agencies with a strong founding vision. All are passionate about what they do. And all of them transform lives.

Here’s what she had to say about us:

    Educational Program Innovations Charity Society, North Sydney, N.S.: Cape Breton can be a tough place to grow up. Unemployment and low literacy are big problems. EPIC helps the kids who are falling through the cracks because they don’t have people in their lives who can give them good advice or the motivation to succeed. It hooks them up with young adults who give them tutoring, camaraderie and a safe place to hang out. According to its website, 98.7 per cent of its funding goes directly to charitable activities, and it has been named by the Donner Foundation as one of the best-run charities in Canada. This is what “prevention” is all about.

We are proud to be included in this list of deserving charitable organizations.

Donations will soon be accepted on this site through PayPal. In the meantime, please contact us at and we will get back to you promptly.

EPIC receives the Peter F. Drucker award

The Donner Foundation Awards were held on November 7 in Toronto, Ontario. Youth Peer Co-Director, Sylvia Dearing (front row, far right) was on hand to accept on EPIC’s behalf the $5,000 Peter F. Drucker Award for Non-Profit Management. Every year, this award is given to a non-profit organization with a consistent record of excellence and innovation in the management and delivery of services.

EPIC also took home the award in the Services for Children category, which came with a $5,000 prize. This is the fifth time EPIC has received this top national prize for its work with the children of Cape Breton.

In 2010, EPIC received the overall William H. Donner Award for Excellence in Delivery of Social Services out of all entered organizations across the country.

Youth Peer and Parents PEACE Program Video


On November 5th in Toronto, Ontario–at the provincial Lieutenant Governor’s residence–EPIC took home the $20,000 William H. Donner Award for Excellence in the Delivery of Social Services, the overall award for the highest-performing agency. The organization also won the award for excellence in the delivery of services for children along with a $5,000 prize.

Barry Waldman - to the right of Ontario's Lt. Gov. - holds EPIC's overall award as the nation's best-run non-profit agency

The Donner Canadian Foundation Awards are held each year. This year, EPIC was the best managed agency out of over 500 applicants from all over Canada.

Thank you to the volunteers, staff and management team of the Youth Peer Program, the staff and volunteers of Parents PEACE and Give Right Back and the EPIC volunteer Board of Directors for making this little agency the best in Canada!

EPIC Wins National Award for Excellence

donner foundation awards EPIC has been named WINNER of the 2009 Donner Foundation Award for Excellence in Delivery of Social Services, Services for Children.

Founder, Barry N. Waldman will receive the award Friday, October 16, 2009 in Toronto. This national recognition carries with it a $5,000 cash prize. EPIC has been a finalist in its category for the last three years and won in 2007.

From the Donner Foundation Press Release announcing the finalists:

The Donner Awards are Canada’s largest recognition program for non-profit social service agencies, established in 1998 to recognize and encourage best practices in non-profit management and to increase public confidence and support for Canada’s non-profit sector. The awards, administered by the Fraser Institute on behalf of the Donner Canadian Foundation, will be presented October 16th at a celebration in Toronto. Additional information is available at

This year, 582 non-profit social service agencies from across Canada applied for the awards. Participating
organizations are ranked on their performance in 10 key areas, including management and governance, the use of staff and volunteers, innovation, program costs, and outcome monitoring.

The top organization in each of seven categories of social service delivery will be awarded $5,000 while the $20,000 William H. Donner Award for Excellence will be presented to the highest performer overall.

This award was presented to EPIC for the excellence of the Youth Peer Program and its adjunct projects: Parents PEACE and Give Right Back. Thanks to our outstanding staff who make it all happen: Barb Donovan, Elizabeth Broderick, Brian Dwyer, Noella Fitzgerald, Susanne Donovan, Emile Conn, Kayla Wood, Catherine Ross, and (last year) Jen MacNeill. We love our staff!

We never forget that the staff is there to support and facilitate the volunteers in their selfless service to the kids. The relationship between the high school and university youth and their younger peers is where the magic happens. Recognition also needs to extend to Barry Waldman who volunteers his time to make all of this happen. Thank you volunteers for the hours and hours of dedicated work.

Thank you, too, to The Law Foundation of Nova Scotia for its continued and vital financial support.

Barry Receives Local Volunteerism Award

Barry accepts Harvey Webber Award EPIC is happy to announce that Barry Waldman is the recipient of the third annual Harvey Webber Memorial Award.

The award was presented at the United Way of Cape Breton Annual General Meeting, held at Membertou on April 15, 2008.

The honour is awarded to individuals who 1) have a history of community volunteer experience in Cape Breton, 2) have devoted considerable time and effort in a volunteer capacity in the non-profit, non-governmental field, 3) have made an exemplary contribution as a community leader, and 4) epitomize the true volunteer spirit by choosing to give his/her time freely for no personal gain.

Barry, the creator of EPIC, serves as Supervisor of Programs and on the Board as Director of Finance, both volunteer positions. EPIC has managed over a dozen programs and projects since its inception, all focused on marginalized learners. During that time, over 98.7% of funding has gone directly to programs and initiatives, due mainly to Barry’s habit of donating time in all administrative capacities. It is conservatively estimated that the lives of over 1500 youth and young adults in Cape Breton have been favourably impacted by the programs fostered by Barry.

Harvey Webber Award

In accepting the Harvey Webber Memorial Award, Barry graciously drew attention to those who nominated him as well as the hundreds of other volunteers in Cape Breton who deserve this kind of recognition.

We who work with Barry are thrilled at his receiving this well-deserved honour and hope there are many more to come!

Dan Christmas receives national recognition

danheadshot.jpgDan Christmas, Chairman and Director of Planning for the EPIC Board of Directors and Senior Adviser to the Chief and Council of Membertou First Nations, is the winner of the National Excellence in Aboriginal Leadership Award for contributions at a regional level. This is one of two awards given by the National Aboriginal Financial Officers Association each year.

The award was presented to Dan in Montreal on February 14, 2008.

Dan was nominated by the Unama’ki Economic Benefits Office in Membertou. Criteria for the award include demonstrating leadership that motivates and inspires as well as raises the standards of aboriginal finance and management. The association is recognizing Dan’s vision for excellence and the highest standards of contribution to an effective, well-managed and governed community.

The EPIC Board and staff, who have known and worked with Dan for many years and who are always appreciative of his wisdom, intelligence, hard work and kind nature, are pleased to see others singling him out for this well-deserved recognition.

Congratulations, Dan!