NEW YORK -- Rarely has Dillon Gee felt secure as a Met. Typically, Gee instead has spent his Major League service time wondering when his next demotion might come.

But Gee is certainly secure now, given the 10-5 record and 2.71 ERA he posted from May 30 through the end of last season. He recently signed the largest contract of his life, a $3,625,000 deal to avoid arbitration. And Gee enters Spring Training as one of the rocks of manager Terry Collins' rotation.

"I think that's a good thing, if I'm 27 and I'm a veteran on the team," Gee said. "We've got a young team, obviously it's full of young talent, and hopefully I can just do my part to win games."

Gee spoke those words Tuesday in Manhattan, where he accepted a Thurman Munson Award for his charitable efforts off the field. Also honored for his charity work last month at the Baseball Writers' Association of America New York Chapter's awards dinner, Gee drew praise for his involvement with charities near his hometown of Cleburne, Texas, as well as his work with Tuesday's Children and the Viscardi Center organizations in New York.

Other Munson honorees included Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner, former big leaguers Jim Kaat and David Cone, Knicks Hall of Famer Bernard King and Giants safety Antrel Rolle. The annual event pays homage to Munson, the late Yankees catcher, and has raised more than $12 million over the years for programs that serve disabled New York City children and adults.

"It means a lot," Gee said. "It's one of those things where it's funny -- we do charity work, we try to be involved as much as we can, and then you get an award. It almost feels like they don't go together. You do the things you do off the field because you like to do them, and they affect people's lives -- not to get a piece of hardware, even though being here is a major honor, just to get the Thurman Munson Award and be associated with these other winners. It's a very special night."

Despite his growing stature on the team and in the community, however, Gee does not yet consider himself a veteran.

"I think I can learn some things from the other guys," he said, referencing Jon Niese, Bartolo Colon and other older pitchers on New York's staff. "It's one of those things where I had some really good veterans when I came up -- Chris Young and Jason Isringhausen and Johan [Santana] and all these guys who taught me a lot about off the field, how to handle yourself, be a professional. That made baseball life a lot easier for me to handle. Hopefully I can just pass along some of that knowledge to these young guys coming up to make it easier for them to perform on the field.

"It's nice knowing that I'm healthy, coming into Spring Training ready to go. But no matter if you end [the year] bad or end good, it's a new year, and you've got to maintain that work ethic and just try to go out there and do the best you can."