The Rotary Club of Westerville, on May 23, honored Linda Weiler with its 43rd annual A. Monroe Courtright Volunteer Service Award. The Courtright Award recognizes outstanding community service by a leader or volunteer that is both “significant and sustained.” This service must come without pay, and not as part of one’s job.
Weiler was honored for her service to the Westerville City School District, where her monumental volunteer and fundraising efforts have been significant and sustained for 20 years.
The mother to four who have gone through Mark Twain and Fouse Elementary schools, Genoa Middle School and Westerville Central High School, Weiler got involved at her local elementary school while her children were students there, and has never ended her involvement – even as her volunteer work has grown to the middle school, high school and district-wide level.
Weiler was nominated for this honor by Fouse first grade teacher Deb Urby for founding a program eight years ago called the Genoa Middle-Fouse Elementary Mentoring Program. Genoa students are trained as mentors, and then work two days a week with Fouse children on their English learning and reading skills. Weiler has also volunteered at Fouse, Mark Twain, Genoa, Westerville Central High School, Challenge Day at Central, Westerville Education Challenge, and Parent Council.
She is also an eight-year member of the Westerville Parent Council, the umbrella group of PTA presidents from all 23 schools in the district, representing 34 member groups. She also is a board member and eight-year active member in Westerville Education Challenge (WEC), which raises money for school initiatives that promote character education and social-emotional well-being. WEC is a nonprofit organization run by volunteers that has raised more than $100,000 since 2009. Its largest sponsored program is Challenge Day, an intense anti-bullying program for high school freshmen. More than 6,000 Westerville students have participated, often called “life-changing.” The WEC also funds the PRIDE program at Heritage Middle School, which promotes a sense of family and inclusiveness inside and outside of the classroom; and the monthly MODEL program at three middle schools, in which seventh- and eighth-grade girls are grouped with adult mentors to help increase their sense of self-worth and self-sufficiency. Weiler has served as a mentor at Walnut Springs herself for the last two years.
For these extensive volunteer efforts and more too numerous to list, the Rotary Club of Westerville honored Linda Weiler with their 43rd annual A. Monroe Courtright Volunteer Service Award. The club also made her a Paul Harris Fellow, donating $1,000 in her name to The Rotary Foundation. She joins another prestigious list of luminaries as honorary Paul Harris Fellows that stretches from Mother Therese to Jimmy Carter.
Courtright was the longtime publisher of Westerville’s historic hometown newspaper, The Public Opinion (PO). He also was a charter member of Rotary Club of Westerville. He died unexpectedly just a month into his term as the club’s president in 1977, and the club launched the community service award in his honor. Courtright was known for his strong support of Westerville, and his strong opinions, expressed weekly in a front-page column in the PO titled, “You Can Quote Us as Saying.” Off the front page, his private philanthropic efforts were less well known. A business in trouble might find an envelope of money near the cash register after an unannounced visit. Westerville families and groups in need were helped frequently, with anonymous gifts that the newspaper publisher had no wish to publicize.