Volunteering has been a big part of Linda Berkemer's life for decades.

Volunteering has been a big part of Linda Berkemer's life for decades.

She's made quilts, worked at food pantries and helped collect and mend clothes. She's being recognized for her work with a nomination for the 2009 Jefferson Awards, a national award that honors people who make a difference in their communities.

Berkemer, who taught high school science in the Westerville school district for 30 years, is being recognized mainly for her work with Victory Ministries, where she has served as volunteer intake coordinator for 16 years.

Victory Ministries is a Christian-based organization that provides food, clothing, tutoring, mentoring and free health care, among other things.

Berkemer said she has worked with all aspects of Victory Ministries, doing everything from washing and mending donated clothes to sweeping floors.

Berkemer also uses the quilting skills that she acquired after retiring, making quilts for the needy. It's a months-long process, depending on the difficulty of the quilt.

"It depends on the quilt -- sometimes it can be two months, or it can take four months," she said.

Before volunteering with Victory Ministries, Berkemer said she was a longtime volunteer at her church, the Church at Polaris, but cutbacks in programming have reduced volunteer opportunities.

Berkemer spends about one day a week volunteering at Victory Ministries. She said she has enjoyed volunteering there since retiring in 1991 because it fills up her time and provides a service to those in need.

"It gives me a schedule, and it's also advancing God's work," she said.

Berkemer, a Northland resident, is one of 20 central Ohio residents who have been nominated for the Jefferson Awards. Five will be named winners in a ceremony on April 1.

Of those five, one will be selected to travel to the national awards in Washington, D.C., later this year. Five winners will be named on the national level.