SHELLHARBOUR City's 2012 Citizens of the Year have utilised personal recognition they received as a foundation to better their community.
Mount Warrigal resident Keith Wilson was last year's Shellharbour Citizen of the Year.
The 68-year-old was recognised for his community service, particularly his volunteering as part of the Illawarra Cancer Carers.
Since forming more than two decades ago, the group has donated in excess of $2.5 million to the fight against cancer, all of which has stayed within the Illawarra.
Mr Wilson lost his mother to breast cancer, a sister to lung cancer and a brother to mesothelioma.
His daughter also had Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
He said the publicity his award received had given the Cancer Carers a noticeable profile boost, helping them achieve tangible results.
This included giving him the opportunity to meet and lobby the region's politicians, leading to a successful petition campaign for a PET scan machine at Wollongong Hospital.
"It's been very good for the Cancer Carers," he said.
"We got a lot of publicity from the PET scanner and it really raised the awareness of what we do.
"For something I wasn't expecting, we put it to good use."
The Young Citizen of the Year Award is open to people under the age of 25.
Albion Park's Heather Divine won the 2012 award, being acknowledged for her diverse community service roles.
This included Interchange Illawarra, a not-for-profit, community-based organisation providing respite services to people with disabilities, their families and carers throughout the region.
She was also recognised for being a supporter of ACON (Australia's largest community-based gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender health and HIV/AIDS organisation), as well as being involved with the Korimul Gang Show and as a leader in the 1st Albion Park Scout Group.
Since then, the 18-year-old has completed her HSC.
Ms Divine will attend TAFE to further her knowledge of disabilities, with a view to hopefully beginning an aged-care traineeship later in 2013.
She said the recognition had opened some doors for her, but also created greater awareness of issues she was passionate about.
"I think it's definitely opened people's eyes a lot more," she said. "I don't think they realised exactly what was involved with disability work.
"I've been able to meet people I probably wouldn't have been able to otherwise."
Ms Divine said it has been an honour and privilege to carry the mantle for the past year.
"I was involved in the selections for this year's awardees, which was interesting," she said.
"It was great to see what others are doing for their community."
The 2013 winners will be presented at council's Australia Day ceremony this Saturday morning.