Allegro, Shepherd’s Center to honor outstanding senior volunteers

Golden Years Gala Service Awards to be presented Sept. 9

By Clay Today
Posted 7/22/20

ORANGE PARK – The Allegro is presenting the 13th annual Golden Years Gala to recognize senior adults for outstanding volunteer service in Clay County.

What a wonderful way to say, “Thank …

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Allegro, Shepherd’s Center to honor outstanding senior volunteers

Golden Years Gala Service Awards to be presented Sept. 9


ORANGE PARK – The Allegro is presenting the 13th annual Golden Years Gala to recognize senior adults for outstanding volunteer service in Clay County.

What a wonderful way to say, “Thank You!” by celebrating someone known for their extraordinary efforts. The 2020 categories are as follows: Lifetime Achievement, Volunteer Senior Man of the Year and Volunteer Senior Woman of the Year.

In addition to the nominees, we will be honoring the Shepherd’s Center’s Volunteer of the Year. Senior adults are important to the community. They are a generation of high values, strong work ethic, commitment, integrity, generosity and loyalty. Seniors are a wonderful example to all, showing that true fulfillment is to share their time and talents through serving.

Due to the unprecedented events related to the COVID-19 virus, this year’s Golden Years Gala will not be held as an in-person event. On Sept. 9, the Shepherd’s Center’s Gala Committee will announce the winners in each category listed below. During the week of Sept. 2–9, the Gala Committee will host an online auction to raise funds for the Shepherd’s Center. The auction website is: If you would like to donate to the Gala, donations are being accepted through our website,

A listing of the 13 outstanding finalists and the Shepherd’s Center Volunteer of the Year with a brief summary of their activities follows.

Lifetime Achievement finalists:

Dr. Robert Cowie. Dr. Cowie was nominated by Mercy Support Services. Dr. Cowie responds compassionately to the immediate needs within his community – from serving as a Lay Leader in his church, to feeding many at the Soup Kitchen in Clay County, treating patients at his dental practice at no cost when they are in need and serving tirelessly on the Board for Mercy Support Services. As Vice Chairman at Mercy Support Services he has been the driving spirit and visionary behind the actualization of Mercy Village. Mercy Village will serve as a hub for Mercy Support services and the necessary “wrap-around” support services needed by their clients.

Ed Dickson. Dickson was nominated by a fellow volunteer at Middleburg Black Creek Lions Club. Ed constantly works to help the downtrodden and helpless. Ed has been a member of the Lions Club since 2010 and is currently serving as their president. He oversees the Club’s Vision Screening Program. He also maintains 16 locations with boxes to collect used eyeglasses. Ed has served three terms as President of the Friends of the Middleburg Clay Library, raising money at their book sales that supports items needed outside of the library’s budget. Mr. Dickson is very active at Middleburg United Methodist Church. His favorite activity is working at and planning the annual Vacation Bible School. He collects surplus bread on Sundays to be distributed at the church’s Food Bridge. He also works every Thursday at the Food Bridge distributing food to the needy.

Susan Stobe. Stobe was nominated for the Lifetime Achievement award by a fellow volunteer at the Shepherd’s Center. Susan spent many years, 1983 – 1999, making sure the Orange Park High band looked their sharpest by maintaining their uniforms and chaperoning trips. Susan is a member of Grace Anglican Church where she is a reader and serves communion. For the past 30 years she has worked with the craft guild at St. Catherine’s Church making projects for the annual bazaar. Susan is an usher at Thrasher Horne Performing Arts Center. She has been a member of the Shepherd’s Center (SCOOP) since 2009. At SCOOP she has served as a teacher, lunch volunteer, past board member and chairman of the Golden Years Gala Committee. Susan is a presence in the community and has been a lifelong volunteer. She has been instrumental in making the lives of young and old better.

Man of the Year finalists:

Ernie Cohen. Cohen was nominated by a good friend who knows how much of an impact he makes in the community. Ernie is best known for his emcee efforts for numerous nonprofits in Clay County. In this capacity, he has raised funds for Concert on the Green, Breast Cancer Research, the Alzheimer’s Association, Heritage Singers, Challenge Enterprises and Shepherd’s Center of Orange Park. He has raised awareness about Clay County’s Vietnam Veterans and Fallen Warriors project. He does all of this while working a fulltime job at Kid’s First. Ernie always gives 100% when asked to champion any project.

Louis Lindsay. Lindsay was nominated in the Man of the Year category by Orange Park Medical Center. Louis is in his second year as President of the Orange Park Medical Center Auxiliary. He volunteers two-to-three days a week at the hospital, helping over 100 people daily. During his tenure as president, he increased fund raising efforts that allowed the auxiliary to increase nursing scholarships from five students to nine students at $2,500 each. Louis actively promotes the teen volunteer program at the hospital.

Darrell Meadows. Meadows was nominated by One Blood. Darrell had the distinction of donating 71 gallons of platelets last year. Each platelet donation can help up to three patients. Every 15 seconds someone needs platelets and platelets must be used within five days. New donors are needed every day. Darrell’s dedication to showing up for every appointment was amazing and he saved countless lives with his donation.

Charles Nichols. Nichols was nominated by a fellow volunteer. Charles has served in many ministries in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He has served as Bishop and is currently a temple and family history leader. In this capacity, he teaches others how to use church resources to research their family history. Charles teaches genealogy at the Shepherd’s Center’s Adventures in Learning Program. His love of genealogy is evident in his passion for learning new ways to research family history. Charles is always willing to try new technology in the search for someone’s past.

Gerald Waugaman. Waugaman was nominated by a fellow blood donor at One Blood. Gerald is a hard-working repeat platelet donor at One Blood on Kingsely Avenue. Each platelet donation can help up to three patients. Gerald donated 19 times in 2019, donating 38 gallons of platelets. Every 15 seconds someone needs platelets, and platelets must be used within five days. New donors are needed every day. Gerald’s donation could have saved up to 57 people in 2019. Gerald is a very dependable donor and always looks forward to coming in to donate.

Ed Weston. Weston was nominated by a fellow Elk from the Green Cove Spring Elks Lodge in the Man of the Year category. Ed serves as the Exalted Ruler (president) of the Lodge. He coordinates 35 in house committees. In addition to his service with the Elks, Ed volunteers with the Green Cove Springs Library, Hoop Shoot, Charles E Bennet Elementary School, Veterans, Green Cove Springs Police Department, and Wreaths Across America. Ed manages to volunteer in all these locations while managing the Elks Lodge that has 800+ members and is open 7 days a week. The Elks provide meals and social interaction for its members and welcomes non-members at two separate events. Under Ed’s leadership, $29,000 was donated to local and state charities. If there is a need in Green Cove Springs, Ed will be there providing support and funding.

Woman of the Year finalists:

Ginny Furhmann. Fuhrman was nominated by Hope Therapy as Woman of the Year. Hope Therapy serves children and adults with special needs providing occupational therapy using horses. Ginny is a physically fit senior and her duties include many that require strength and fitness. They include bringing horses in from pasture, grooming and saddling the horse, assisting with mounting and leading the horse for a therapy session. Since 2016, she has volunteered every Tuesday and Friday afternoon working three - four hours with the patients and the horses. Ginny also mentors new volunteers and shows them her love for the horses and the patients.

Ruth Johansen. Johansen was nominated for Woman of the Year by her husband. Stephen Ministry is a one-on-one lay Christian care ministry for people who are suffering from a life crisis. Ruth is a Stephen Minister and Stephen Leader at Advent Lutheran Church which not only benefits the 500 members of the congregation but the community as well. She is the co-founder and coordinates the Stephen Ministry Network of Clay County. Ruth is active in the Social Ministry Board and Vacation Bible School at Advent Lutheran as well. Ruth is a member of the Orange Park Garden Club and a volunteer Naturalist at Camp Chowenwaw County Park. She is a member of the Out to Lunch Bunch. If a job is to be done, and done well, Ruth can be depended upon to get it done.

Carol Meadows. Meadows was nominated by One Blood for the Woman of the Year Category. Carol is a hardworking, fun loving repeat platelet donor at One Blood. It takes about three hours to donate platelets. Carol donated 11 times in 2019 and reached a donation level of 49 gallons. Carol proudly wears the tee shirts she receives from One Blood, advertising the fact that she is a blood donor. Carol’s donation has the potential to impact the lives of 33 people suffering illnesses that cause the need for platelets.

Susan Nevinger, Shepherd’s Center of Orange Park Volunteer of the Year - Combining her talent, knowledge, love of art and her genuine caring for people, Susan has touched many people across all ages, young and old. She volunteers her time at the Cummer Art Museum in Jacksonville and at the Shepherd’s Cent of Orange Park (SCOOP) where she teaches Art History and Painting Grandma Moses Style. Susan first joined SCOOP as a student, but she moved into the role of teacher. Susan teaches Art Appreciation in a lively and humorous manner so that everyone can fully enjoy the artwork being discussed. It is important to her that the class fully participates by sharing opinions, thoughts, and their own experiences. Susan introduced a painting class that she created specifically for SCOOP students, “Memory Masterpiece, Grandma Moses Style.” The inspiration for this class came from the trips to the Cummer Museum and her love of painting. She loves hearing the stories of her students’ lives and feels that they should be painted on canvas. She also hopes that these paintings will spark family conversations about the stories being told in the paintings and thus keep the stories alive. Many students have never painted before; they only need to come to class ready to create. She builds confidence in each student and guides them through the process of creating an original work of art. Many are now working on their second or third painting. Besides teaching the students,

She organized an art show for her students’ paintings at various Clay County public libraries. Susan believes in her student’s creative abilities and coaches them to be great artists. Her love of art and her students is evident in all that she does for the Shepherd’s Center.


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