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Camillus youth recognized for 'selfless service'

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.

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