Viral-video star, 106, keeps young by helping kids

WASHINGTON — The 106-year-old who’s earned rock star status in a viral video of her dancing with the President and First Lady thinks volunteering has helped keep her young.

“She’s the jewel in our crown,” says Cheryl Christmas, of the UPO Foster Grandparent Program, about centenarian Virginia McLaurin. “Grandma has been working at this program, Foster Grandparents, for 22 years.”

“And I love it,” McLaurin quickly chimed in. “I love kids!”

Volunteers 55 and older earn tax-free stipends for time spent training, traveling and volunteering. They work with children who are academically, socially or financially disadvantaged.

“What we do is not only match the seniors with children, but with children in their community. We’re kind of old-school in that way,” Christmas says. “We say it takes a whole community to raise children, so our seniors do that work.”

Volunteer opportunities with children and young people up to 21 are available in many settings, including hospitals, day care centers, social programs or schools.

“Grandma Virginia” McLaurin works in D.C. public schools, mentoring students with special needs and helping children with reading and social skills.

The Foster Grandparent program, as part of Senior Corps, is sponsored by the federal agency for volunteering and service — the Corporation for National and Community Service. Volunteers typically have incomes at or below 200 percent of federal poverty income guidelines.

Donations can be made online here.

Check donations can be sent to:

Foster Grandparent Program, United Planning Organization ATTN: Marvyn Myers, 301 Rhode Island Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20001

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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