Wollongong's Nicki Bowman didn't get involved in volunteering in order to gain recognition or win awards.
However, the 2018 NSW Volunteer of the Year for the Illawarra said such honours can bring greater awareness to a variety of important causes.
"I think why it's meaningful is because it shines a light on the cause that person is volunteering for, and also the importance of volunteers in general," she said.
"When you look at how volunteers power so much of what goes on in our community that we take for granted, I think the awards are a really important tool to keep that in the public eye.
"And to have people recognise what volunteers are doing to make their communities a better place is important."
Volunteers stood face to face with the most ferocious fires in our state's history, and are the beating heart of our country towns that continue to battle crippling drought.
Ms Bowman made it to the state finals of the NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards that year.
She was recognised for having founded the Dress for Success Illawarra branch, a charity that helps disadvantaged women get back on their feet and back into the workforce.
Ms Bowman encouraged Illawarra residents to nominate volunteers who were "doing good in their community" for this year's awards.
"While they don't do it for the recognition, just to see the looks on the faces of the winners when their names are announced, and to see the pride that they have in the work that they do, is really important," she said.
Read more: Meet our Illawarra volunteers of the year
"If you do know somebody who you think is doing good in the community, whether they've been doing it for a short time or a long time, if they're having an impact on someone's life that's positive, nominate them and let them have a few moments in the sun to accept a thank you for what they do."
Nominations are open for the Centre for Volunteering's 2020 NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards.
People are being encouraged to nominate their neighbours, colleagues, family members and friends for one of the seven categories: Adult Volunteer of the Year, Young Volunteer of the Year, Senior Volunteer of the Year, Volunteer Team of the Year, Corporate Volunteer of the Year (Individual), Corporate Volunteer of the Year (Team), and Excellence in Volunteer Management.
Centre for Volunteering CEO Gemma Rygate said the opening of nominations coincides with the start of National Volunteer Week, and is an ideal time to recognise the more than two million people across the state giving up their time to help others.
Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward said the past 12 months has highlighted the pivotal role volunteers play in supporting communities when they need it most.
"Volunteers stood face to face with the most ferocious fires in our state's history, and are the beating heart of our country towns that continue to battle crippling drought," Mr Ward said.
"They have been critical to our COVID-19 response across the state, providing practical assistance that's enabled so many charities to support the most vulnerable members of our community through the pandemic."
Last year, the Centre for Volunteering recognised more than 120,000 volunteers from about 450 organisations as part of the awards, which are supported by the NSW Government and ClubsNSW.
Nominations close on Friday, July 3.
For more information or to nomination a volunteer, visit www.volunteering.com.au/awards.