Celebrating seniors on the community that exemplifies values, integrity, commitment, generosity and a strong work ethic. They give their time and talents in many areas of service to our community!


We were informed about this event at the Shepard’s Center by our dear friend, Gary Newman, who was featured in our Volume 5 Issue 4 magazine. At the time of the article, Gary was already dedicating his time and efforts to the many veterans of Clay County. Former President of the Vietnam Veterans of America Florida State Council, Gary was responsible for coordinating the fundraising for the “Taps” monument. It honors the fallen men and women who have served.

What is the Golden Years Gala?

The Golden Years Gala has been a way to say thank you and celebrate seniors that have extraordinary efforts in Clay County. While the individual doesn’t have to live in Clay County, their volunteer efforts must be within it. Volunteers are over 60 years old and nominated by local nonprofits in November/December.

In addition to honoring volunteers, a live and silent auction is held to raise funds for the Shepard’s Center in Orange Park. The event takes 9 months to plan and is one of the Shepard’s Center’s largest fundraiser. Profits go directly to the center which is 26 years old. Founded by the Shepard program in Jacksonville, it originally took place at a Dunkin Donuts in Orange Park. The Shepard Centers of America are a place to provide guidance and support to the senior community. Each center varies on services offered based on the needs of the communities around it. Services can include meals on wheels, transportation, friendship care, check in programs, and more.

Golden Years, Golden Learning

Sherpard’s Center Orange Park is utilized as a learning institute, giving 4, 8-week sessions. Topics tend to change as instructors are purely volunteer. If interested in volunteering to teach a class, contact the center at (904) 269-5315. They are open Monday to Friday, with different hours so be sure to check before calling or planning a visit. Executive director, Christy Fitzgerald, informed Golden Years News that she is hoping to find a yoga instructor, watercolors, and any other interesting subjects visitors might enjoy.

The Golden Years Gala took place at The Club Continental, a lovely resort and private club nestled on the banks of the St. Johns River in Orange Park, Florida. Built in 1923 as the winter home of Caleb Johnson, heir to the Palmolive Soap Company, The Club Continental is now a romantic and intimate Hotel, Private Club, and Special Events Venue; and what a great event this was!