For Immediate Release: September 30, 2019
Contact: Mary Simpson, Development and Marketing Manager
Sandra B. Rifkin Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award from EPIC – Every Person Influences Children
BUFFALO (NY) - EPIC – Every Person Influences Children is delighted to announce that Sandra B. Rifkin will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Sandra B. Rifkin dedicated her adult life as volunteer, president, and after retiring, board member and long-time advocate of EPIC, which helps families, schools and communities raise children to become responsible and successful adults.
“Bob Wilson was the founder and spirit of EPIC. Sandy Rifkin was its foundation and soul. Her leadership and legacy of helping families and communities inspires what we do today, “said Tara N. Burgess, Executive Director. “She has dedicated her entire life to EPIC’s values and we are pleased to present her with the agencies first and only Lifetime Achievement Award.”
“I am grateful to be honored. EPIC’s success in helping families and children is an achievement we all share”, stated Sandra Rifkin.
While working together on the Child Abuse Prevention Task Force, Sandy Rifkin and Bob Wilson quickly became friends and began work on what would become an organization focused on preventing child abuse and offering resources, skills and confidence for all families. While Bob knocked on every door, building an impactful board and securing funds for the organization, Sandy built a strong team of volunteers and lead the team that created the curriculum, and developed EPIC’s program funding. Sandy’s hard work, dedication and ability made her the best fit for EPIC’s first President.
Family, friends and colleagues have said that when confronted with barriers Sandy would say, long before Nike, “Just Do It”. From 1980, when EPIC was formed, Sandy grew EPIC from two volunteers sharing a single desk in space donated by the United Way to an organization serving more than a million children in 18 states and two countries when she retired in 1995.
Her vision of a world where every child has a strong start and promising future propelled the self-taught grant writer’s success. From initial funding through the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation, Sandy’s passion inspired funding from individuals, corporations and the public sector for decades. Her energy and leadership built an award-winning premier parenting education program with a dedicated, talented staff that continues to meet the changing needs of families, schools and communities today.
Sandy created programs for parents of children of every age from infant to adolescent. She developed initiatives for schools that focused on life skills and values and encouraged the community to help. She remembers weeping when more than 100 people showed up to become volunteer facilitators at the first training session.
During Sandy Rifkin’s tenure, EPIC received many prestigious awards including: “Exemplary Program”, New York State Department of Social Services (1982); the National Program Award, Child Abuse Prevention Council (1990); a Daily Point of Light, the White House (1991); the Decade of the Child Certificate of Merit (1994) and a Certificate of Gould-Wysinger Award, United States Department of Justice (1995), among many other local, regional and national recognition.
EPIC Heroes Gala Reception Thursday, November 7, 2019
Sandy Rifkin and other EPIC heroes will be celebrated at the EPIC Heroes Awards Reception on Thursday, November 7, 2019 at 6:00pm at the Atrium @ Rich’s. Major event sponsors include Baillie Lumber Co. L.P. and BlueCross BlueShield. Chairs of the event are Dr. Thomas E. and Susanna Schenk, BlueCross BlueShield and Craig and Lisa Spencer, Rich Products. More information is available at www.epicforchildren.org
Other awardees include:
Mary H. Gresham, Ph.D., Robert L. Wilson Award for Exceptional Service and Leadership
Raul Vasquez, M.D., Robert M. Bennett Award for Service to Community
State Farm, William B. Hoyt Award for Service to Families
Gloria J. Parks Community Center, Eugene T. Reville Award for Service to Education
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 a child who had been abused, neglected, and shuffled between 11 different foster homes. The child’s life was filled with loss, violence and anger; absent was acceptance and love.
The tragic death of his wife, 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.