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9 Treasure Coast Seniors Earn Sage Awards For Giving Back To Our Community

Nine senior residents on the Treasure Coast have been recognized for their efforts to give back to the community, whether through the arts, environmental advocacy or other field.

The recipients were honored at the inaugural Sage Awards held Saturday, Feb. 27, at the Kane Center, the home of the Council on Aging of Martin County, in Stuart.

The Sage Awards were launched to honor standout senior residents who live purposeful lives and display a positive image of aging to younger generations. The ceremony is the only one that focuses solely on seniors on the Treasure Coast.

According to Denise Belizar, marketing manager for the Council on Aging of Martin County, the concept of the Sage Awards, which will become the organization's signature annual fundraiser, had been in the works for the past five years.

"It helps us to open up a discussion about aging, and to inspire the public (of all ages) to re-think what it means to be an older person," she said. "We’re emphasizing the positive aspects of aging, which often get short shrift in our society."

Here are the nine remarkable seniors who were recognized: 


Advocacy: Nathaniel P. Reed

Seniors Earn Sage Awards

The Advocacy Award recognizes Nathaniel P. Reed for his commitment to environmental issues and leadership in community organizations. A founding member of the Everglades Foundation and 1,000 Friends of Florida, Reed has been an advocate for environmental and natural resource causes in Southeast Florida. 


Community Service: Anne Thompson Schafer

Seniors Earn Sage Awards

The Community Service Award recognizes Anne Thompson Schafer, who was chosen among nine nominees for her efforts to improve the social well-being of individuals, groups and neighborhoods. For over 20 years, Schafer has been a community volunteer and charity activist, demonstrating a passion for serving children, women and the arts. Schafer coordinates the annual Hibiscus House Children's Christmas Diner, founded the Women's Power Lunch of Martin County and more. 


Faith-Based Service: Rev. Allison D. Spencer

Seniors Earn Sage Awards

The Faith-Based Service Award recognizes the Rev. Allison D. Spencer for contributing to religious institutions. Allison Spencer and her husband, Jim, founded a Nursing Home Ministry, which services over 10 nursing homes. Spencer recently retired from the East Stuart parish she served for 19 yeas, St. Monica's.


Healthcare & Health Services: Dr. Nathaniel P. McParland

Seniors Earn Sage Awards

The Healthcare & Health Services Award recognizes Dr. Nathaniel P. McParland for his contribution to the fields of healthcare and medicine. After a successful 40-year career in medicine and health care, McParland now serves on the Board of Trustees of the Retirement Research Foundation and has helped launch programs such as the Kane Clinic and Vets Helping Heroes.


Human Services: Jean A. Peraino

Seniors Earn Sage Awards

The Human Services Award recognizes Jean A. Peraino for working to meet human needs, prevent and solve problems, and improve the population's quality of life. Peraino volunteers seniors with cognitive and/or medical needs through the Council on Aging's Adult Day Health Care Program.


Professional Services: Evans Crary, Jr.

Seniors Earn Sage Awards

The Professional Services Award recognizes Evans Crary, Jr. for his continued involvement in his professional field. A former attorney who grew his practice from an office of two lawyers to a firm of 16, Crary now works in philanthropy, selecting key nonprofits for the Frances Langford Foundation to make sizeable contributions to.


Service to the Arts: Vianne Nichols

Seniors Earn Sage Awards

The Service to the Arts Award recognizes Vianne Nichols for her work with the visual, performing and literary arts. Nichols has served on the Arts Council since 1990 and is also a board member of the Arts Foundation of Martin County.


Charles Kane Award: Deane B. Blazie

Seniors Earn Sage Awards

The Charles Kane Award was created to honor an individual who has dedicated his or her life to fulfill the needs of communities and society as a whole. Deane B. Blazie was recognized for her lifetime of work benefiting the blind and visually impaired community. Charles W. Kane himself was also honored for his dedication to the Council on Aging, for serving as the Kane Center's inspiration, and for working to secure funding for the organization.

All photos are courtesy of the Council on Aging of Martin County and feature President and CEO Karen Ripper alongside the award winners.