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Shepherd’s Center finds way to celebrates special seniors despite pandemic

ORANGE PARK, Fla. – The senior population has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, but the Shepherd’s Center of Orange Park is going the extra mile to celebrate members of this group in a  special way.

The Shepherd’s Center of Orange Park is a social gathering place for seniors that helps members in this age group battle social isolation through classes that help stimulate them socially, physically and spiritually.

Every year, this organization has its Golden Years Gala to celebrate this dynamic group of seniors, but this year’s celebration will be different.

Typically, this event would be a large luncheon where people dress up in fancy attire like ball gowns and tuxedos.

However, after getting postponed twice -- this year’s gala is officially canceled due to the pandemic.

“We honor volunteers out in the community. Senior volunteers that have given their time and talents to various nonprofits in Clay County. So today, we have decided to do a drive-by.  We had 12 nominees but we’re going to do a drive-by to the three winners,” said Christy Fitzgerald, Shepherd’s Center of Orange Park Executive Director.

Three prestigious awards are given during the annual gala, the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Outstanding Woman and Man of the Year awards.

This year’s winners were nominated by either the organization or a person in the community for their volunteer services.

Dr. Robert Cowie was given the Lifetime Achievement Award.

“I’m very surprised and honored. But a little reticent because I hope my lifetime isn’t over, and I hope my achievements aren’t over," Cowie said. “I’m honored to serve our community. There’s such a great need and Mercy is fulfilling that now. I kind of miss making 5 gallons of soup a couple of times a month but hopefully COVID can be over soon.”

Fitzgerald sends a kind reminder to people to check up on their seniors.

She says for the seniors battling the pandemic and social isolation to remember to call your friends, get exercise, learn how to use technology, and then use it often to stay connected.

For more information on the center, go to https://www.tscoop.org/.


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