Alongside the flowers at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens is Manya Blechman, 79, who has volunteered tirelessly at the gardens in her retired years.
Two days a week, Blechman works at the gardens, narrating the tram ride. It is her passion for the gardens that brings guests back. As Blechman describes it, she is the first frontier of the gardens. Before she was driving the tram, Blechman volunteered at an elementary school, where she was able to share her love for ecology and conservation.
For Blechman, this is just part of everyday life. For her peers, her work at the gardens is special, special enough that someone in her community — she still doesn’t know who — nominated her for the Alliance For Aging’s 2014 Positive Living Award.
“I was honored and flattered and very surprised and happy,” Blechman said of winning the award.
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There are few ways to truly honor people like Blechman, who have devoted their lives to giving back to the community. However, the Alliance For Aging, a nonprofit organization committed to improving the lives of older people, has found a way.
Each year, the organization celebrates seniors in 11categories for their hard work during the Positive Living Awards dinner.
The Alliance for Aging will accept nominations until Aug. 1 for its ninth annual Positive Living Awards at www.allianceforaging.org. Nominations are open to adults over age 60 in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.
The award categories include: Animal/Wildlife, Arts/Sports/Media/Entertainment, Corporate/Legal/Public Service, Education/Mentoring, Environmental Protection, Faith/Interfaith, Health Care, Inter-Generational, Philanthropy, and Positive Living.
Awards will be presented at Jungle Island on Nov. 5. The Alliance For Aging is usually concerned with taking care of seniors in South Florida, said Judy Fisher, the alliance’s public relations and events specialist.
“But on this one special night we get to celebrate them. Some of them are well into their 70s and 80s but they’re still so vibrant and full of life. It’s such a beautiful thing,” Fisher said.
The goal of the awards dinner is to give these philanthropic seniors a night to shine — a night to celebrate their lifetime of positive living.