Putting the Unity in Community

By Alice Maggiore

April 26, 2012 Updated Apr 27, 2012 at 1:45 AM EDT

Town of Dickinson, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Every April, Senator Tom Libous teams up with Broome Tioga BOCES and WBNG-TV to honor high school seniors for outstanding community service. Thirty students are awarded with scholarships for paying their kindness forward. But the students say the silent thank you's mean the most.

"You can't put a price tag on when ordinary people do extraordinary things," said State Senator Thomas Libous, who represents the 52nd District.

But if you could put a price tag on community service, the faces you see in these pictures would rake in the money by the thousands.

"From children that they help, disabled children, nursing homes they go into and help the elderly. People volunteered during the flood. They put countless hours in," said Libous.

Like Daniel Kerila, who serves as a volunteer firefighter with Union Volunteer Emergency Squad.

"I was a very, very busy man. Every day I was working hard as a fireman, going house to house on 26, and just working day and night," Kerila said. "After a while, we just went from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., just kept going day after day until we finally got everything cleaned up."

Ian Weaver is a big brother mentor, and helps his church.

"We've done things through spaghetti dinners, soup kitchens, food baskets during holiday times, Thanksgiving, Christmas, just kind of small things like that," Weaver, a Norwich senior said.

Small gestures, teaching life's biggest lessons.

"It makes me feel better as a person, it helps everyone involved in community service. It makes you feel better, it makes your friends feel better, the people you're helping," said Jessica Brooks, a senior at Greene Central School.

"It definitely helps you understand a lot more, and it helps you learn a lot more about life that you wouldn't get anywhere else," Weaver said.

And they are lessons worth so much more than money.

"Just the rewarding aspect, the smile on someone's face when they call for help and we go to their aid," said Kerila, a senior at Maine-Endwell High School.

Unadilla Valley High School senior Lauren Peck agrees.

"That's how you really get the thank you," she said.

If you could put a price on community service, Libous said New York's Volunteerism Week estimates the value would be somewhere between $27 and $28 an hour.

Each student will get $1,000 scholarship to go toward college.

In the coming weeks on Action News, we'll take a closer look at three of Thursday's recipients.

Next Thursday, we will meet Meredith Summers, a Whitney Point senior, and one of the only woman volunteer firefighters in her company.