Internet Sensation, 106-year-old Dancing Grandma Receives President’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Service

Mar 11, 2016

On the eve of 107th birthday, Senior Corps Foster Grandparent honored for two and a half decades of service to area’s schoolchildren

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Less than two weeks ago, the video of 106-year-old dancing Grandma Virginia McLaurin meeting with President and Mrs. Obama became an Internet sensation. Today, on the eve of her 107th birthday, the Internet sensation is getting attention for another reason: her two decades of nearly daily service to schoolchildren in the nation’s capital.

Starting in her early 80s, Ms. McLaurin, whom her students affectionately call “Grandma Virginia,” has served as a Senior Corps Foster Grandparent. She helps students with their reading and social skills, and mentors children with special needs. She continues to serve at Roots Public Charter School.

Surrounded by community leaders and students, Ms. McLaurin, received President’s Volunteer Service Award (PVSA) for Lifetime Achievement.The PVSA, an initiative of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), honors individuals for their exemplary volunteer service during a 12-month period or over the course of a lifetime.

Wendy Spencer, CEO of Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that administers Senior Corps, presented the PVSA during a celebration of Grandma Virginia’s 107th birthday at the THEARC Theater in Washington, D.C.

“For decades, Grandma Virginia has been making a powerful impact in her community and, her service is truly an inspiration to us all,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. “Grandma Virginia and thousands like her are not only helping their communities, but also themselves by living active, healthy lives through volunteering. At 107, she is living proof that volunteering leads to a longer, healthier, and happier life, and I am honored to present Grandma Virginia with this Lifetime Achievement award.”

 The 50-year old Foster Grandparent program connects volunteers age 55 and over with opportunities to provide one-on-one mentoring, nurturing, and support to children with special or exceptional needs, or who are at an academic, social, or financial disadvantage. Last year, more than 25,000 Foster Grandparents served nearly 200,000 young people across the country.

A growing body of research points to mental and physical health benefits associated with volunteering, including lower mortality rates, increased strength and energy, decreased rates of depression, and fewer physical limitations. With nearly one in every five Americans projected to be age 60 or older by 2030, a great opportunity exists to engage older Americans in service to meet critical community needs while contributing to longer, healthier lives.

Today, the community will celebrate Ms. McLaurin’s upcoming birthday with performances from local schools and her church at the THEARC Theater. The celebration includes a surprise home makeover valued at $5,000 courtesy of Howard University Radio and Bob’s Discount Furniture.

Ms. McLaurin became an internet sensation after millions of people viewed the video of her dancing with the President and First Lady at a Black History Month reception at the White House. Since then, her dedication to volunteering and the health benefits of volunteering has sparked local and national interest nationwide.  

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