Afton's Cutting wins community service award

By Perry Russom

May 12, 2014 Updated May 12, 2014 at 11:14 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Sitting face to face with State Senator Tom Libous, Tessa Cutting was just moments away from accepting her scholarship for community service.

Tessa gave her time for others spending hours at a soup kitchen and teaching her peers about the dangers of drugs.

"I've always tried very hard in helping my community and those around me," said Cutting of Afton, NY.

Earlier this month, Cutting was honored with the Student Community Service Award sponsored by Senator Libous.

To learn more about her time serving her community, we took her back to where it all began at the Ross Park Zoo.

"I'm really appreciative of all of the opportunities I've had," said Cutting.

She started her community service career at the zoo when she was about 15 years old with smaller jobs.

"I would help with the small lizards and small mammals and I helped at the artifact cart which shows fossils and bones," said Cutting.

That base of volunteering lead to years of helping others. When the flood of 2011 hit, she worked along side her mom in handing out blankets and food.

"It was a really sad day, but it felt good to help people," said Cutting.

When talking with Tessa, it's hard not to notice her infectious laugh. it's something she says she wants to carry with her throughout her career.

"I think a smile is something that can do a lot of good and I think people should do it more often honestly," said Cutting.

Next fall, the 18-year-old is taking her talents to SUNY Brockport. That's where she will study social work to pursue the job of her dreams in counseling.

"I've seen that a lot of people need help and there's not a lot of people to help them and so I think that I can make a real difference in the world if I help some people," said Cutting.

Tessa has a message for young people wondering if community service could be their thing.

"I'd tell them to keep an open mind and to not say, 'Oh, I don't want to do this or that' because you never know. Sometimes, the ones you think you wouldn't like, you really end up getting something out of," said Cutting.

The scholarship is also sponsored by WBNG-TV and Broome-Tioga BOCES.

Next week, Action News will profile Bailey Tryon from Waverly, NY.