MANCHESTER CENTER -- Equinox Village, together with At Home Senior Care, Green Mountain Academy for Lifelong Learning, Green Mountain RSVP & Volunteer Center, A Tempo Senior Move, and Prospect Rehabilitation & Cornerstone Fitness, have announced that Kathie Wall Evans of Dorset, Dr. Lea Newman, Rose-Marie Pelletier of Pownal, and Robert Sugarman of Arlington are this year’s Exceptional Retiree Awards (ERA) honorees.

The ERAs, launched in 2012, honor Bennington and Windham County retirees who are using their retirement in exemplary ways: To expand relationships, to learn new things, to serve others. Through this program Equinox Village and its community partners have identified examples of individuals that can be followed into vibrant older age and to generate excitement for what can be the richest time in one’s life.

"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.

Kathie Wall Evans was awarded the 2014 Exceptional Retiree Award for Excellence in Health & Wellness. Evans is one of the founding members of the Interfaith Council of the Northshire and a member of the Right Track Foundation. But perhaps her most profound impact is made as a quiet supporter to caregivers and to those who are very ill.

Dr. Lea Newman, the 2014 honoree for Excellence in continued scholarship, retired from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. Since she has written and published scholarly articles and books about such literary giants as Dickinson, Frost, Hawthorne and Melville. In addition, Dr. Newman continues to teach, to serve on the boards of literary organizations and make appearances throughout New England to discuss her studies.

The 2014 ERA honoree for Excellence in Service & Community Leadership is Rose-Marie Pelletier. Pelletier formed "Hour for Our Community, a time bank exchange program with 70 members and more than 300 hours logged; mentors a Pownal Elementary student during a weekly lunch meetup; drives a neighbor (who can no longer drive) to the North Adams YMCA three times a week; volunteers at the polls each election day, and serves as an elected Justice of the Peace. When the need arises, she is there for her neighbors at a moment’s notice. After Tropical Storm Irene, for instance, she volunteered with affected families and a Wilmington business to remove mud and debris.

The 2014 ERA honoree for Excellence in the Arts, Robert Sugarman, has continued his art life as a playwright, writer, editor, director and critic. He has written one mystery novel, two non-fiction (one on "circus learning" and one on performing Shakespeare), and five plays. He reviews performing arts books for Choice, a publication of the American Library Association, and has edited papers for the Popular Culture Association.

The awards were open to retired residents of Bennington and Windham Counties who are retired and over the age of 55. Honorees were announced at a Gala Awards Presentation Dinner on Friday, May 30 at Equinox Village.