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Getting together with family and friends is a huge part of Roman’s life.

Unfortunately, it’s something that has become more difficult for him to do over the last 18 months as a result of public health measures that have been put in place to protect people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A generous gift from a corporate supporter is helping Roman and other people served by Epic Opportunities to maintain those personal connections even though they might not currently be able to meet face to face with the individuals closest to them.

Northway Pharmacy Marion recently provided a sizeable donation to Epic Opportunities. The donation was earmarked for the purchase of new Apple iPads for 10 people served by the agency, including Roman, to help lessen any feelings of isolation they may be experiencing during the pandemic.

Thanks to his new tablet, Roman can now meet regularly with his father and his two siblings, Evelyn and Mark, via Facetime or other online platforms. It also allows him to connect virtually with other people he knows through a weekly friendship group and participate in a regular online bingo event organized by Epic Opportunities.

“Having the tablet has really helped him,” says Tyler Garrett, a Disability Support Worker (DSW) who works with Roman.

“One of the most important things for Roman is being able to go out and spend time with other people. What the tablet does is basically give him another option to do that. He’s able to connect virtually with people and see people’s faces rather than just talking to them on the phone.”

The new tablet has also allowed Roman to spend more time pursuing his love of music. A self-taught musician, he often learns to play new songs on his accordion by watching music videos of some of his favourite artists on YouTube. It’s also given him more of an opportunity to take part in Zumba workouts, which combine fitness training with music.

This is the second such purchase made by Epic Opportunities during the pandemic. It previously purchase 10 iPads for people living in homes owned or managed by the agency in August 2020 through a federal government grant.

This is not the first time Epic Opportunities has worked in collaboration with Northway’s Marion Street location. It first became involved with Epic in 2019 when it began providing pharmacy services to a number of people served by the organization.

Northway Pharmacist/Partner Colin Langedock says he and his staff have come to know many of the people served by Epic since then and were eager to find a way to help the agency continue to provide vital services to people with intellectual disabilities during the pandemic.

“In dealing with individuals supported by Epic through the course of the pandemic, it was clear social interaction and access to regular services and opportunities outside the home was limited due to pandemic restrictions,” he says.

“Our hope is that through the donation, access to enhanced technology will provide a medium for individuals supported by Epic to meaningfully be and feel more connected with others. It will also allow access and utilization of learning platforms, programs and other helpful tools offered virtually and online to Epic participants.”

Executive Director Ruby Reimer says the organization is extremely grateful for the recent support provided by Northway.

“They approached us asking how they could help make an impact on the work done by Epic Opportunities. We discussed a few ideas and the need for technology enhancements for people we serve immediately stuck,” Reimer explains.

“Northway is a business that really lives out its values and beliefs. They truly want to see people live their fullest and richest life possible. We are fortunate to experience their leadership as a pharmacy that provides excellent service and a strong commitment to quality in all the things they do.”

Langedock says Northway hopes to continue collaborating with Epic Opportunities in the future and help support people served by the organization.

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