A 104-year-old Washington, D.C. resident was among several local volunteers honored during a recent ceremony.
Virginia McLaurin, 104, was recognized by Mayor Vincent Gray for her work with special needs children at the Sharp Health School in Northwest Washington, D.C.
“Grandma Virginia,” as she is affectionally known, has served for more than 20 years as a volunteer in the United Planning Foster Grandparent Program at the school.
“I enjoy working with children,” McLaurin said. “I don’t want to sit at home when I can work with children.” Her charges range from age six to age 12.
“If I had to think of a phrase that describes Grandma Virginia, it would be that she celebrates 104 years of life doing what she loves, serving children. She has a flirtatious spirit and is a pure joy to be around,” said the school’s principal, Savetria Francis. “For those of us who complain about commuting to work, neither rain, sleet, snow nor heat keeps Grandma Virginia from reporting to work. To top that off, she walks to work every day and her commitment to our students is priceless. We are thankful for knowing such an extraordinary woman.”
One of 11 children, McLaurin was born on March 12, 1909 in South Carolina but grew up in Raleigh, N.C. Her husband, Marshall, died in 1945; she has two children, a son who is deceased and a daughter, Ida Mae Streater, who lives next door and checks in on McLaurin daily.
McLaurin adopted Feit Cardoza when was he was 3 years old. Now, Cardoza and his wife, Carla, look in on her often. McLaurin’s sister, Attie Towson, who is also over 100, lives in her own home in South Carolina.
McLaurin comes from a family with great longevity, and she credits hers to those family genes.
She spent most of her adult life as a seamstress and worked in various laundry and dry cleaning establishments around D.C. She had a passion for sewing and made many of her own clothes as well as clothes for others.
McLaurin is a member of New Southern Rock Baptist in Northwest Washington and also credits her faith for her long life.
“One of my secrets for longevity is reading the Bible and praying daily, loving Jesus Christ, and my fellow man,” she said. “There’s no one that I don’t like; I love everybody.”
Her advice to others was to love the Lord, read the Bible and pray daily.
The Foster Grandparent Program provides volunteer opportunities for persons 55 years old and older to work one-on-one and in small groups with children from birth to 21 years of age in educational and social service settings.
The program operates at 42 locations in the District of Columbia including early education centers, public and public charter schools, before and after-school programs and youth programs.
Seniors seeking to serve as volunteers should contact the program coordinator at (202) 610-5123.