They say volunteers are not paid because they're priceless, and Max Ackerman certainly fits the bill.
The Bulli resident received the 2012 Illawarra Volunteer of the Year Award at a ceremony in Corrimal yesterday.
Mr Ackerman was recognised for his extensive volunteering with the Northern Illawarra Residents Action Group over the past 18 years, as well as at his local surf lifesaving clubs, the Bulli Show Society, and his participation in a wide range of other environmental, heritage and cultural protection campaigns.
Mr Ackerman said he was a little embarrassed because, like many volunteers, he had never expected an award.
"It's just what you do," he said. "I was brought up to help people. That's the Australian way, isn't it?"
Mr Ackerman joined other volunteers yesterday who were celebrated for their tireless unpaid work.
Marlene Scott of Towradgi was named Senior Volunteer of the Year for her work with elderly people, while the Illawarra In Home Support Volunteers received the Volunteer Team of the Year award.
Special mention was also given to Dorothy Abberton in the Senior Award category for her work with the disability sector and the Barnardos early years home support service.
NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards manager Kristin Sinclair commended the Illawarra on the calibre of nominees and their volunteer work, and acknowledged the "tens of thousands of volunteers" from the region who continued their community work without such official recognition.
As the Illawarra's Volunteer of the Year, Mr Ackerman is now in the running for the overall NSW Volunteer of the Year Award, to be announced on December 5.
2012 ILLAWARRA VOLUNTEER AWARD RECIPIENTS
Volunteer of the Year: Max Ackerman, Bulli
Volunteer Team of the Year: Illawarra In Home Support Volunteers
Senior Volunteer of the Year: Marlene Scott, Towradgi
Highly Commended Senior Volunteer of the Year: Dorothy Abberton, Keiraville
Pictured: Senior Volunteer of the Year Marlene Scott and Volunteer of the Year Max Ackerman, front, with other nominees and recipients, from left, Donna Walsh, Joanna Christodoulou, Georgina Philpot, Carmel Martin, Barry Leeton, Dorothy Abberton, Jeanette Dodge and Georgia Mandziy. Picture: KEN ROBERTSON