The ERAs, launched in 2012, honor Bennington and Windham County retirees who are using their retirement in exemplary ways such as to expand relationships, to learn new things or to serve others. Through this program, the Equinox Village and its community partners have identified individuals that can be followed into older age and perhaps richest time in one's life.
Honorees were announced at a Gala Awards Presentation Dinner on Friday, May 24 at the Equinox Village. The awards were open to retired residents of Bennington and Windham Counties who are retired and over the age of 55.
Nominations opened on this past February 15 and closed on March 29.
"What a tremendous group of nominees and retirees. It is inspiring to see these people making their later years so fun and meaningful," said Kirt Sampson, the executive director of Equinox Village.
Harvey Flaxman won the honor in the category for Excellence in Continued Scholarship. The honoree is a retired scholar, director, producer, actor, ghostwriter and screenwriter who has continued to expand his intellectual horizons since his retirement in 2000. He participates in two weekly study groups, one of which focuses on cosmology, astrophysics and astronomy. In addition, he leads a group that meets frequently to discuss such topics as the nature of evil and musical history. He attends and conducts adult education classes, including the Vermont Humanities Council's First Wednesday lectures, events held by the Mark Skinner Library and classes from the Green Mountain Academy for Lifelong Learning. He has served as vice president of his temple, which includes overseeing the Hebrew School and ensuring the best outcomes for students .He often asks insightful questions that tease out additional information and makes the Q&A sessions more meaningful for all.
Barbara Howland is a retired educator. She received the award for Excellence in Service & Community Leadership. Howland is a founding member of Neighbor to Neighbor, which assists seniors with light tasks and visits; an adviser to Auto Angels, a group helping those in need of reliable transportation; and an acting director of the Center for Restorative Justice. She has also served with the Interfaith Council of the Northshire, the Vermont Council for the Humanities, the Bennington Museum, The Dorset Church, the Dorset Library, the Manchester Music Festival and the Southern Vermont Arts Center.
Jean Miller was honored for Excellence in the Arts. She has served as a chair and board member at the Dorset Theater Festival for more than a decade. In addition to securing the theater's financial future, she has helped establish a play writing contest for middle and high school students. She has also held important leadership roles in Maple Street School, the Vermont Community Women's Fund, Humanity Council Board, Brown University Alumni, and Hildene.
Warren S. Patrick was awarded for Excellence in Health & Wellness. He is 102 years old. He exercises and stretches daily, eats in moderation, takes the stairs and participates in several of the area's annual charity walks. He has served on the Resident Council at West River Valley Assisted Living in Townshend, where he resides.
He is also on the community's Christian Fellowship and volunteers to set up and clean up after events. He maintains a passion for photography and writes a column for the Brattleboro Reformer.
"My hope and the hope of the other sponsors for the ERAs is that we can all view these individuals as examples. They are truly an inspiration. With their stories, we can each approach retirement with more excitement and vitality," sais Sampson.