Molly Moroney hopes her NSW Volunteer of the Year Award will encourage more young people struggling with drug and alcohol problems to seek help at her Tamworth charity, Youth InSearch.
Miss Moroney has given over 1000 hours of her time to the youth mentoring organisation over the last two years.
"I went in as a young person into the program because I wasn't doing very well and I was struggling," she said.
"Being able to now turn around and give back to a program that completely changed my life is something that's so special to me. I wouldn't be here without the program, it's given me so much."
Youth InSearch is "about rebuilding young people's lives" for people struggling with drugs, domestic violence, sexual abuse, grief and other personal crisis.
She said the most satisfying part of volunteering was for a young person to tell her they had kicked an addiction, or won a job, or even had been to school for an entire week.
Miss Moroney was one of three Tamworth residents announced as winners in the New England region's section of the prestigious NSW Volunteer of the Year Award on Thursday.
She isn't in Tamworth to accept the award - she's stuck in Queensland, doing a nursing placement on the Gold Coast.
"Being able to put Youth InSearch out there and showcase what we do means that a young person might reach out, and I think that's special."
The awards, an annual program run by the Centre for Volunteering, have grown to become one of the largest celebrations of volunteering across the country.
Adult Volunteer of the Year Sarah Horne trains, coordinates and rosters netball umpires across courts each week throughout the Tamworth region. She is also one of the leading organisers for the Westview Pirates Netball Club.
"It's lovely [to win] but it's also bittersweet, because I know there's lots and lots of people throughout the region who do lots volunteering-wise, particularly in the netball community," she said.
"In the team nominations every single netball executive in the Northern Inland was up for nominations because we all work so hard."
Senior Volunteer of the Year Kenneth Russell is a visitor guide, researcher, writer and volunteer trainer at the Tamworth Power Station Museum.
He has spent a decade volunteering to help individually categorize and archive more than 4,000 historical items and documents at the museum.
The team of volunteers responsible for the Tenterfield Show took home the 2020 group award.
Their 2019 event was nearly washed out - in the middle of the worst drought in living memory for the small town. But the 25-strong volunteer team was able to adapt and the event went ahead anyway.
They also helped cook meals and provide other support for volunteer fire fighters headquartered at the local showground to fight last year's Black Summer bushfires.