On Tuesday, Mayor Vincent Gray and “Serve D.C.” honored several local volunteers – and one of them received a standing ovation for her tireless work with special needs children.
She may be 104 years old, but Virginia McLaurin is still young at heart.
"I keep the boys and the dogs away with this!" she said as she lifted her cane.
When McLaurin was born in South Carolina back in 1909, William Taft was in the White House – the first of 18 presidents over the span of her lifetime. Over a century later, McLaurin still looks and feels great.
When told that she doesn't look a day over 70," she replied with a laugh: "Ooh, my daughter's 80!
Along with several others, McLaurin was honored Tuesday by Mayor Gray for her 20 years of volunteer work in D.C.
"You know what? If she isn't an inspiration for every one of us to do more, then we are incapable of being perfectly inspired," said D.C. Mayor Gray.
Since 1993, McLaurin has been working 40 hours a week with severely disabled youth at C. Melvin Sharpe Health School through the United Planning Organization’s “Foster Grandparent” program. And she has no plans to stop.
"I don't have an ache or pain,” she said.
When program coordinators discovered her age, they were shocked.
“We were blown away," said project director Cheryl Christmas. "That she reads without glasses; she walks without a cane -- the cane is to bring her up and down, just to help her with that; she lives alone in a two-story walk-up and she walks back-and-forth to the campus every day.”
“Grandma McLaurin,” as they call her, says working with children makes her feel young at heart:
"I love children. I have worked in homes and helped raise the kids and I always loved children."
And at this particular ceremony, the mayor called McLaurin a “shining example of service.” But she had a compliment of her own for him!
"I've seen the mayor on TV but he's a more handsome man!" she said.
McLaurin turns 105 years young in March. She is one of 11 children, and only one sibling is still alive. But she has a team of friends and neighbors who love and support her.