May 31, 2022 started out much like any other day for Dorothy, Corinne and Barbara. By the time it ended, it proved to be one of those life-changing moments that none of them are likely to ever forget.
The three roommates learned that afternoon they will be moving into a new house that they will soon be able to call their own. This realization of the roommates’ long-held dream was made possible thanks to the efforts of the Epic Opportunities Foundation, which raised more than $100,000 in 2021-22 through the My Epic Home fundraising campaign to help fund the purchase of the house the roommates will share.
It was a celebratory moment for everyone involved, especially Dorothy, Corinne and Barbara.
“There was a party happening that evening. The ladies were so excited. There were screams, laughs, bounces, claps and all things joyous,” recalls Coordinator Sandy Weiten, who shared the news with the three women that day.
“It was an absolute delight to share the information with Dorothy, Corinne and Barbara about their new home. I could not have asked for a better gift than being able to tell them personally and share in their happiness.”
The new home Dorothy, Corinne and Barbara will be moving into is the seventh house Epic Opportunities has been able to purchase since 2016 thanks to the fundraising efforts of the foundation, which has set a goal of purchasing 10 new homes for people served by the organization. The eighth home will likely be purchased later this summer.
The $100,000 raised by the Epic Opportunities Foundation in 2021-22 represents a milestone. It is the most money the foundation has raised in a single year since it was officially established in 2011. What makes it even more remarkable is that it happened in the middle of the pandemic when most large-scale, in-person events were not permitted.
Amy Tung, a director on the Epic Opportunities Foundation’s board of directors and a key member of the board’s fundraising committee, says that fundraising success is an indication of how much public support there is for the work Epic Opportunities does in the community.
“I think we’ve been able to cultivate confidence in the value of the work we do for the community in providing holistic supports and building inclusive communities and showing that the work that Epic does really enriches people’s lives,” she explains.
“That really helps to establish a credibility with the public. Through the message we deliver and how transparent we are as an organization, it really showcases the transformative change we can make in people’s lives and our donors really believe they too have the power to transform lives.”
Executive Director Ruby Reimer says the past year’s fundraising success speaks to how both the organization and the foundation have been able to establish a network with members of the community over the years.
“The organization has created a network of people that has grown exponentially over the years and those people are now loyally supporting our work,” she says. “It’s been a lot of relationship-building with businesses and growing the messaging around the fact that this is a need and the impact these homes have on the people we serve. I think that messaging has resonated with a lot of people.”
As successful as this past year’s fundraising efforts were, the work of the Epic Opportunities Foundation is far from over. It is still looking to raise the final funds required to purchase two more homes within the next year.
Tung says one of the foundation’s first orders of business is to look at all of the fundraising tools available to it and determine which ones will best allow it to be the most successful in the years to come.
“I think there’s a lot more opportunities now in terms of how we fundraise. The door has definitely been opened and it’s now about exploring what kind of options we have, how far are we willing to go and what does that look like,” she says.
“Somehow, someway, I think COVID has allowed us to fundraise through a variety of digital media. It’s become very tech-driven. I think it would be beneficial to start developing a plan to build unforgettable fundraising experiences that can benefit us using that technology.”
Reimer says the timing couldn’t be better for the organization and its foundation to examine how best to move forward when it comes to fundraising. Epic Opportunities recently adopted a new strategic plan, she adds, so it only makes sense for the foundation to analyze how it can best support and enrich the services that the organization provides to people living with intellectual disabilities. That includes determining what kind of role in-person events that foster human connection can play, Reimer says.