by Ami Olson
Dave Vermilya, Town Shop co-director, speaks in recognition of the volunteer spirit displayed by Town Shop teens at the third Seva Recognition Dinner last week. Recognizing and celebrating the volunteer spirit of local youth was the message of Wednesday evening’s Seva Recognition Dinner, held at the Camillus Methodist Church in the village.
The Camillus Town Shop joined with church members last week in honor of the nearly 70 Town Shop participants who have attended a seva (selfless service) program at least once since June 1, 2008. The word “seva” is used at the Town Shop to portray the act of selfless service, for which the volunteer receives nothing. Through the Town Shop, teens could display the seva spirit by volunteering on Wednesdays at the Samaritan Center, or Saturdays at the Sunshine Horse Rescue, without gaining community service hours or school credit for their time.
Town Shop co-founder David Vermilya described seva as, “anything you do that benefits others, without expecting a reward.”
The presence of that altruism in Camillus youth was the highlight of the recognition dinner last week.
The Great Divide
One of the more subtle purposes of last week’s dinner was to bring together community members of different ages, Vermilya said.
Last year, Pastor Dana Horrell was new to the parish and heard from church members that they were not content with the divide between the youth in the town and the older residents. The church approached the Town Shop, just up the road, and suggested the two groups make an effort to cross the age barrier.
“It seems more like different age groups exist in isolation; how can we kind of return to that sense of time when people were comfortable and unafraid to interact?’ was the question the two groups wanted to answer,” Vermilya said.
In the spring, the two groups, teens from the Town Shop and seniors from the church, spent time together after a Town Shop volleyball game. That first event was telling, Vermilya said, as the two groups hit it off.
Last week’s dinner was evidence of the success, as people of all ages continued to visit well over an hour following dinner, he added.
Deserving Of Recognition
Town Shop teens were honored last week at the Seva Recognition Dinner, for their selfless volunteer efforts since June 2008. Each honoree received a prize, paid for by a generous donation from Richard and Barb Canty, of Camillus. Daryl Olin was recognized as the adult volunteer of the year; John Spears volunteered the most since June 1 at Sunshine Horse Rescue; Joel Bowman and Nicole Cunningham tied for second place behind John; Dakota Bateman volunteered the most since June 1 at the Samaritan Center; Melissa Stepien and Nicole Rizzo tied for second place behind Dakota.
Former Town Shop teens Debra Ancillotti, 23, and Amber Micek, 31, were recognized by David Vermilya as “examples of what we kind of hope will happen, and what we see happen if people embrace this spirit of volunteerism.” The two women are avid volunteers in the community, carrying with them the volunteer spirit after their time with the Town Shop. Combined, Ancillotti and Micek have volunteered at least 500 times at the Samaritan Center, Vermilya said.