ORANGE PARK – Nine Clay County seniors who have been named finalists will be honored in the 11th Annual Golden Years Gala.Sponsored by Shepherd’s Center of Orange Park, the winners will …
ORANGE PARK – Nine Clay County seniors who have been named finalists will be honored in the 11th Annual Golden Years Gala.
Sponsored by Shepherd’s Center of Orange Park, the winners will be announced May 2 at 8:30 a.m. at Club Continental. Two men are vying for the honor of Volunteer Senior Man of the Year and three women are vying for Volunteer Senior Woman of the Year. Three nominees are also up for Lifetime Achievement Awards for their years of volunteer community service.
The gala is presented by The Allegro and is hosted by Elder Source with proceeds to benefit The Shepherd’s Center of Orange Park, a nonprofit that provides services to improve the quality of life and longer independence of hundreds of senior adults in Clay County through educational health and wellness programming. Individual ticket donations of $50 can be purchased at (904) 269-5315.
Lifetime Achievement Finalists
Ron Coleman’s community service began as a teen, in the early Civil Rights movement, where he worked to integrate his high school. This early experience lead to a lifetime of helping others. After college, Coleman joined the Navy, served as an Aviator and retired after 23 years of service. Owner of Baronco Management Consultants, Coleman was the first African-American chairman of the Clay County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. He has served and currently serves on multiple boards, including the Administrative Council of Calvary United Methodist Church where he is also a Certified Lay Speaker and choir member.
At age 75, Maude Jackson is a leader, planner and community educator preserving and sharing the history of Middleburg’s black community through the Black Heritage Museum and the Hill Top Heritage Development organization. Jackson works with those in need helping with such issues as food, shelter and moral support. She shares her memories and experiences growing up under segregation and participating in the Civil Rights movement in St. Augustine. Jackson currently serves the Hilltop Heritage Development, the Black Heritage Museum, the Dunbar High School Alumni Association and St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church Choir.
Esther Lee, a retired elementary school educator from New Jersey, volunteers four days a week at the Food Bridge of the Middleburg United Methodist Church where about 200 bags of groceries are given every week to needy families. Currently serving as the secretary to the board of trustees of the Shepherd’s Center of Orange Park, Lee served two years as board chairman. Lee teaches also classes and conducts fundraising for SCOOP. Along with SCOOP and Food Bridge, Lee currently serves the Clay County Extension office, Middleburg United Methodist Church Trustee serving on two committees, Florida Home and Community Educators Association and the Clay County Fair Association.
Man of the Year Finalists
Gordon Danielson has been a patient and family volunteer with Community Hospice and Palliative care since 2009. Danielson provides emotional and spiritual support for patients and takes them for walks. Known for his gentle caring ways and has, Danielson also provides transportation to medical appointments, and a listening ear for anyone with a need and a caring presence for those at end of life. Many times, he is called in the middle of the night to be with a patient at the Hagen Center in Penney Farms who is the dying process and has no family to sit with them. He also volunteers for Heritage Sharing which helps people in need.
Richard Kunze is the deputy representative of the Clyde E. Lassen State Veterans Nursing Home in St. Augustine and current chairman of the Northeast District Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks Veterans Program. Kunze is also past chairman of the Elks National Foundation Florida National Scholarship Program for the past six years, which has granted more than $1.8 million to worthy Florida students. He also co-chairs the Green Cove Springs Lodge 1892 scholarship program for Clay High students. As a Green Cove Springs Elks Bingo volunteer, Kunze has given an average of $30,000 yearly to charities in the city and county and helps train therapy dogs for Canines for Warriors.
Woman of the Year Finalists
Maggie Lazuka dedicates many hours to the troubled youth who live at Seamark Ranch. Through techniques in caring for and riding horses, Lazuka teaches children communication, trust and coping mechanisms. Through a local initiative serving young adults, she serves as house mom for a young woman where she dedicates several daily hours mentoring, tutoring and nurturing life skills. At her home at Moosehaven, she tends to the gardens and grounds, working in the rose garden on campus. An avid crafter, Lazuka gives her handmade blankets and quilts to residents in assisted care.
Barbara Page was one of the first volunteers when ElderSource received a grant from the National Council on Aging to increase the number of seniors signed up for SNAP Food Stamps. After Page was trained, she consistently helped the most seniors in the program, and completed over 100 SNAP applications by herself. There have been many times when Barbara was in need herself of food or other resources, but instead of asking for help, she would go out and help others, trusting that God would provide. Barbara also serves at ElderSource, First Methodist Church of Middleburg Food Bridge, Salvation Army and Feeding Northeast Florida.
Judy White is a member of the Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary and has served the past three years as president where she led the annual Empty Bowls fundraiser. She helps distribute food, adopts senior and child angels from the Angel Giving Tree and organizes bell ringers, to name a few. She is an enthusiastic leader who inspires and encourages leadership. Judy organized, solicited and managed volunteer bell ringers for the Eagle Harbor Publix in 2017. Judy also volunteers as a nurse advocate to the elderly to help them understand and adhere to their medical treatment plan and to assist them with navigating the health care system.
Shepherd’s Center Volunteer of the Year
Nancy Keown has been a board member of the Shepherd’s Center for many years, and she is a volunteer instructor. Keown has taught jewelry making for the past five years at SCOOP. Her classes are always full of happy seniors who enjoy their work and create beautiful jewelry. She has been a big supporter of the Golden Year’s Gala, donating beautiful pieces of jewelry for the auction at the event. Week in and out, Nancy effortlessly fulfills SCOOP’s mission of improving senior’s quality of life intellectually, physical and socially via her classes. She is truly a jewel and SCOOP is lucky to have such a beautiful soul as a volunteer instructor.