Collier Senior Center Recognizes Freeman and Pita as 2022 Volunteers of the Year

Mary Freeman & Aracely Pita

Naples, FL – Collier Senior Center-Golden Gate, Collier County’s first nonprofit senior resource center dedicated to addressing the needs of older adults and caregivers, recently recognized Mary Freeman and Araceli Pitta as the organization’s 2022 Volunteers of the Year. 

“Dedicated volunteers like Aracely Pita and Mary Freeman are the foundation of our organization and we thank them both, as well as all our volunteers, for ensuring Collier Senior Center-Golden Gate is able to serve Collier County’s older adults and caregivers,” explains Senior Center Director Esther Lully. “The award is one of the many ways we honor the volunteers who help us compassionately, professionally and effectively meet the many needs of our more than 1,700 diverse members and the community at-large.”

Freeman, a 90+ year old veteran, has been volunteering since July of 2015 and is appreciated for taking pride in her work and helping out where needed, especially during COVID. Shares Lully, “Mary’s dedication to our country is matched by her passion for Collier Senior Center-Golden Gate, her home away from home, where she always cuts the cake at every celebration, helps clean the center, plus does paperwork and packs food.”

Volunteering since August of 2018, Pita came the center on public transportation, even during the pandemic, to work on birthday cards, ensuring hundreds of the charity’s 1,700 members enjoyed support amid the isolation. Details Lully, “Aracely supports our Program Coordinator Maritza and is known for her service, thoughtfulness and dedication to Collier Senior Center and our members.”

The 2022 Volunteers of the Year announcement was made during the charity’s annual by-invitation-only dinner, hosted by Honorary Chairs Michele and Dan Lavender and featuring Board President Jim Barton as Master of Ceremonies. Held at the Naples Sailing & Yacht Club earlier this month, the event serves as both a friend and fundraiser, bringing in more than $200,000 this year towards Collier Senior Center-Golden Gate’s mission to provide comprehensive information regarding services and resources that affect the quality of life of older adults and their caregivers in Collier County, empowering them to maintain independent and meaningful lives. 

Collier Senior Center-Golden Gate, formerly Collier Senior Resources at the Golden Gate Senior Center, provides an array of free services for seniorscaregivers, and those in-need throughout Collier County:

  • More than 10 weekly programs plus a variety of offerings each month: daily breakfast, hot lunch, and coffee bar; weekly food pantry; monthly birthday parties; virtual and in-person chair yoga, dance, and exercise classes; art and craft classes; cards and games; holiday parties and additional life-enhancing offerings like blood pressure, vision and diabetes screenings; balance testing and fall prevention lectures; counseling and support services.
  • More than 1,000 hot lunches a month to seniors in-need and weekly access to a Meals of Hope food pantry to 780+ Collier County families, including 330 needy seniors, and provides 120+ older adults Harry Chapin “Care & Share” nutritious, easy-to-prepare meal kits each month.
  • Centralized source for local and long-distance caregivers seeking senior-related information, services, and resources in Collier County. 
  • Partnerships to provide programs, socialization, and convenient access to other agencies.
  • Virtual Resource Directory.

The charity maximizes each dollar received by collaborating with trusted partners, including AARP Foundation (job placement and training for out-of-work, low-income seniors), Area Agency on Aging, Catholic Charities (social services), Collier Area Transport, Collier County Nutrition, Sheriff’s Office and more.

Collier Senior Center-Golden Gate is open 9am – 5pm, Monday through Friday, at 4898 Coronado Parkway, Naples, FL. For more information or to donate, please call 239.252.4541, or visit