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Vestle receives kudos for volunteering 24 years at Westport
Mickey Vestle got involved in helping out at Westport Elementary School 24 years ago when her grandchildren were in school. Those grandchildren now adults, Mrs. Vestle has stayed on, doing her part as a volunteer.

Her many years of service have not gone unnoticed. On Friday Ceres Unified School District Superintendent Walt Hanline popped in on her and presented her with a "Starfish" award.

"We thought about doing a whole school assembly but that's not her personality," said Principal Marla Mack.

Vestle is a well-liked fixture at the rural Ceres school, helping out two mornings per week. She enjoys giving individual attention to students who need the encouragement.

Vestle spends all her volunteer hours in the third-grade classroom of Linda Owen, providing one-on-one tutoring.

"The kids love her," said Owen. "She has this way of demanding the very best of them. She praises them, and they just glow. It's beautiful. But she does not let them off easy. They rise to her expectations. She's kind of old school; she likes neat printing and she actually gets it."

Mack said this devotion is rare. "Most volunteers usually work with their kids and move on. She loves it. She considers it an honor."

Vestle told Mack that coming to Westport has kept her going.

"She loves the kids and they love her back. There's so many lives at Westport that she has touched. You should see as she walks across the yard she gets all these "Hi Mickey!"s"

When she's not helping out at Westport School, she's tending to animals on her Modesto ranch.

Hanline names his Starfish award to a well-recited story of a man who made a difference. The story, as told by Hanline, goes: "Every day an old man walked the beach with a pail, picking up starfish that had been washed in by the tide, and throwing them back into the sea. One day a young boy stopped the old man and asked, "Why do you throw the starfish back? It doesn't matter. They will only wash up on the shore again tomorrow.'

"The old man picked a starfish out of his pail, threw it as far as he could into the sea and replied, "It mattered to that one.'"