A Lucky Couple Gives Back

Jul 18, 2023

Close friends in college at the University of Florida, Mitchell and Dawn Epstein went their separate ways after graduation. Dawn moved to Atlanta, and Mitchell stayed in Gainesville to pursue his MBA.

Dawn and Mitchell Epstein on a boat with an iceberg in the background

Dawn and Mitchell Epstein visiting Antarctica.

A few years later, though, the two reconnected and rekindled their friendship in Atlanta, where Mitchell moved after completing his graduate studies. Their friendship grew, with Dawn even fixing Mitchell up with her friends. Lucky for them, that all changed one snowy day in Atlanta, when they began dating. A year later, they were engaged, then married.

It’s fitting that when Mitchell wrote a book exploring how he found success in business and life, he titled it Mr. Lucky. During their 25 years in Atlanta, Dawn and Mitchell, best friends, married and later adopted a child. Mitchell thrived in finance and started a successful business, which he sold in 2006.

Convinced that, as Mitchell writes, “life is short,” the Epsteins moved from Atlanta to Sarasota to live on the beach in a town they’d fallen in love with. In Sarasota, friends took them to charity events, and Dawn and Mitchell focused their giving on something they cared about deeply: children, especially those with the fewest resources.

The Epsteins were drawn to and began supporting the Education Foundation of Sarasota County because of the organization’s commitment, Mitchell said, to “working with the students, and not just on scholarships, but helping them prepare for the next step in their lives, whatever that might be.”

And of the Education Foundation, Mitchell said, “It’s not just the kids: I love that they work with the teachers.” Dawn and Mitchell have close connections to educators and understand how a single teacher can transform a young person’s life. Dawn’s aunt was a teacher and a principal, and Mitchell’s mother taught. His niece is studying to become a teacher.

Dawn Epstein advising her mentee, Karolina Paulus.

Dawn Epstein advising her mentee, Karolina Paulus.

The belief that a trusting, caring adult can change a life has inspired Mitchell to become a mentor, which he has done for years. Dawn has also mentored, volunteering with the Education Foundation to support recent Riverview High School graduate Karolina Paulus, a first-generation college student who came to America from Poland when she was in ninth grade, and who sees Dawn as a “friend who gives me very well thought-out advice.” The experience has been, as Dawn said, “Amazing.”

Abstract paint pour art by Mitchell Epstein

Mitchell Epstein’s newfound passion: painting.

Of mentoring, Mitchell said, “It’s the most rewarding thing you can do…. It gives you a totally different perspective to what’s happening in the world. It feels great to help somebody.”

His belief in the power of relationships to change lives reflects an important shift in Mitchell’s thinking. As he said, “I went from ‘you take care yourself and I take care of myself’ to believing that we are fortunate to be successful, and once you start getting involved, and you hear from the people who are being impacted, if you have a heart, you’ll be reeled in, and the more you look into it, you want to do more.”

Whether teaching yoga, as Dawn does, or creating abstract paintings, a newfound passion of Mitchell’s, or mentoring young people, or supporting organizations like the Education Foundation, the Epsteins are committed to engaging with the community and doing more. They understand how lucky they are—lucky to be together and to be able to give back to a community they love, lucky to help the next generation thrive.