EPIC Announces Heroes Award Winners

For Immediate Release:   September 12, 2019
Contact: Mary Simpson, Development and Marketing Manager
716-332-4130, [email protected]
EPIC - Every Person Influences Children
Announces EPIC Heroes 2019
BUFFALO (NY) -  EPIC – Every Person Influences Children is delighted to honor the following individuals and organizations for commitment to children and families.
“We are humbled by the commitment of the winners who demonstrate EPIC’s vision to “create a world where every child has a strong start and promising future”, said Tara N. Burgess, Executive Director.
“Every day these organizations and individuals live EPIC’s mission, helping families, schools communities raise children to become responsible and successful adults. On behalf of the board and staff, I congratulate our 2019 EPIC Heroes”, commented Pamela Johnson Ph.D., Executive Director at Ready to Learn and EPIC Board Chair.
The winners are:
Sandra Rifkin  Lifetime Achievement Award. This special, one time award was developed to honor Ms. Sandra Rifkin, a founding member of EPIC, first President, Board Member and Board Member Emeritus. After retiring from EPIC almost twenty years after its inception, Ms. Rifkin continued to support, champion and advocate for EPIC and the welfare of children across WNY. 
Mary H. Gresham, Ph.D – Robert L. Wilson Award for Exceptional Service and Leadership - Named after Robert Wilson, EPIC’s founder, this award recognizes an individual whose life exemplifies the values expressed in EPIC’s mission and whose influence has brought about positive action reinforcing its purpose. As a former EPIC board member and Vice Provost for Educational Collaboration and Engagement at the University at Buffalo, Mary worked to promote access to higher education for disadvantaged and nontraditional students, as well as strengthen partnerships with the community.
Raul Vasquez, MD  - Robert M. Bennett Award for Service to Community - created to honor an individual in our community who exudes the values of EPIC in both personal and professional life.  Dr. Vasquez is founder of Urban Family Practice and Greater Buffalo United Accountable Heathcare Network (GBUAHN). As president of GBUAHN, he leads a team of experts with 40 years' of combined medical experience providing care to the poor through a single physician-patient relationship.
State Farm Insurance Company  William B. Hoyt Award for Service to Families established to recognize organizations who exemplify the values expressed in EPIC’s mission. State Farm Insurance Company supports EPIC’s Car Seat Safety Program, which educates families on the proper use of car seats and well as provides car seats to families in need. Through valuable programming and resources, State Farm supports families throughout the WNY community and beyond.
Gloria J. Parks Community Center – Eugene T. Reville Award for Service to Education established to recognize schools or agencies for significant impact on the education of children in our community. Gloria J. Parks Community Center sponsors high-quality, after school and summer camp programs. These programs focus primarily on inner city children attending the Buffalo School District and Buffalo charter schools.

The awardees will be celebrated at the EPIC Heroes Awards Celebration on Thursday, November 7, 2019 at 6:00pm at the Atrium @ Rich’s. Major event sponsors include Baillie Lumber and BlueCross BlueShield WNY. Chairs of the event are Thomas E. Schenk, MD and Susanna Schenk, BlueCross BlueShield and Craig and Lisa Spencer, Rich Products. More information is available at https://www.epicforchildren.org.
About EPIC                                   
EPIC - Every Person Influences Children’s mission is to help families, schools and communities raise children to become responsible and successful adults. EPIC provides year-round programming in Parenting Education, which includes Ready, Set, Parent! (offering support and solutions for parents of newborns), parenting classes for parents of young children, and young adolescents; Families in Transition (helping individuals facing challenges reach their full potential as parents); and Just for Teens (enhancing the skills and confidence of pregnant and parenting teens) and Family Engagement in Education, encouraging early literacy and building parents' capacity to become more actively involved in their children's education, through programs such as Ready, Set, Read! (developing family literacy and early intervention for children's academic success); and Storytime (fun family literacy-based event). For more information about EPIC, please visit  www.epicforchildren.org.
Robert Wilson, EPIC founder
EPIC was founded by Robert Wilson after his wife, Linda, was murdered by a 15 year old boy, a neighbor, in 1977. Through his sorrow, Wilson wanted to know why. He explored the boy’s past to find that the child had been abused and neglected and had lived in 11 different foster homes. The child’s life was filled with loss, violence and anger; absent was acceptance and love. The tragic death of Linda inspired Wilson to dedicate the “rest of my years” to prevent such heartbreak. His vision created EPIC in 1980, committed to uniting home, school and community to help children become responsible and successful adults.