A Westerville resident received the Monroe Courtright Volunteer Service Award for her work volunteering with the Westerville City School District for over 20 years.

Linda Weiler, who has volunteered with and raised money for the district, accepted the 43rd annual award in late May.

Named in memory of the former publisher of Westerville's The Public Opinion newspaper and Rotary Club of Westerville past president, the Courtright Award recognizes individuals, groups, businesses and organizations for significant volunteer service to the Westerville community.

John Oleyar, chairman of the club that presents the award, said those involved in the selection look at the length of a person's service, significant achievements, number of people benefiting from service and the absence of compensation.

"In Linda's case, she met all of those criteria," he said.

He said even though Weiler started volunteering while her four children were in school, she continued her work after they graduated.

He said most parents typically get involved with their child's new school after moving on.

"Linda is different; she continued and appeared to be highly committed," he said.

Deb Urby, a first-grade teacher at Foust Elementary School and the person who nominated Weiler, said she created and maintained the Genoa Middle School Mentorship program that brings in older students to help elementary students.

"She's had such a great impact on our kids," she said.

Urby said Weiler would bring in her service dog, Sophie, so students can read to her. She said she often provided school supplies to students who were in need and practiced with students who needed help with reading books.

"She's just been such a great impact on our kids," Urby said.

Weiler said she started volunteering when her children attended school and came up with the idea for the Genoa Middle School and Foust Elementary School mentor program because they are so close to each other.

She's also involved with other school programs, such as the Westerville Education Challenge, Challenge Day, parent council, MODEL or mentors opening doors and enriching lives and the Purpose, Respect, Independence, Discipline and Evolution program at Heritage Middle School.

She said she was "very flattered to receive the award," and feels like she was recognized for something she loves doing.

"It's human connections to people ... it makes kids feel important and appreciated and I think when they feel that way they feel loved," she said regarding the value of volunteering.

In her honor, the club made Weiler a Paul Harris Fellow, donating $1,000 in her name to the Rotary Foundation.

The first award, presented in 1977, was given to Eddie Birchem & The Anchor Club. Last year's recipient was James H. Meacham.

ominnier@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekOlivia