EPIC was created in 1996, the brain-child of Barry Waldman.
At that time, Barry was director of Unama’ki Training and Education Centre (TEC), an alternate high school and adult-education facility in Eskasoni First Nation, Nova Scotia.
Because he was in daily contact with marginalized learners, he saw not only their individual challenges, but also opportunities lost due to lack of funding for specific programs. He identified the need for a community-based and funded charitable organization that could respond flexibly and quickly to financial and educational initiatives; an organization that could—because of its basis in volunteerism, and focus on learners’ needs—fill in gaps between local, provincial and federal governmental agencies.
Barry set out to found the charity he envisioned.
EPIC's first and longest serving volunteer, speaks at our annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner in 2007.
Started from nothing but the will and belief that it was needed, EPIC has initiated, adopted, fostered and managed many projects and programs. It has also partnered with other agencies — both community and governmental — to provide community services to learners of all ages in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.
To carry out many of these projects, EPIC has been entrusted with funding by departments within both the federal and provincial governments as well as private foundations and individual donations.
Throughout, Barry has taken no salary for his work.
In 1998, Barry was given the opportunity to adopt a program from Island Community Justice. He knew it was a worthwhile program that was in danger of dying due to lack of funding. This was exactly the type of community need and opportunity that had spurred him to create EPIC. That program was what is now known as the Youth Peer Program. Through various funding opportunities and challenges, it has survived and thrived to become a national award winning place for kids and young volunteers to grow.
Barb Donovan took on the challenge of being EPIC's first Youth Peer Director. She served for 15 years in this role, solidifying the program through compassionate leadership, while nurturing the growth of hundreds of kids, supporting hundreds of volunteers and building strong community partnerships. After retiring from the position, Barb moved on to building the same solid foundation for Breakthrough in the role of its first Facilitator.
Barb now sits on the EPIC Board of Directors.