Germantown — When help is needed, whether to offer a hand is not even a question for Germantown resident Elaine Laabs.
"She's someone everyone counts on," said her friend Catherine McCaffrey, also of Germantown. "She's always volunteering to help out on committees at the Germantown Senior Center, she will fill in for anyone who's sick and she always has a humble way about her."
That is why McCaffrey said she was honored to nominate Laabs to receive the Washington County Leading Citizen award, which recognizes county residents over 60 who are aging with purpose and making a difference in the lives of others.
Laabs was one of four winners of the award this year, which was presented as part of Senior Day at the Washington County Fair on Wednesday, July 23.
McCaffrey, who herself won the award in 2007, pointed to Laabs' volunteerism at the senior center, as well as at St. Paul's United Church of Christ in Menomonee Falls, as examples of ways Laabs is making the world around her a better place.
"It seems like she's here almost every day helping out with something or another," said senior center coordinator Katie Rodger. Specifically, Laabs runs the "Chat and Craft" and dartball programs, but her leadership in the community doesn't stop there. She sews patches on Germantown Police Department uniforms, makes quilts for the Richfield Lioness group and assists the senior center in its fundraising efforts. Currently, she is knitting hats for soldiers to wear under their helmets overseas.
"Anything they ask me to do, I will do because that's just how I was raised," said Laabs, who is 86 years young. "I had a wonderful mother who taught me to be honest, to share and always help others."
A Milwaukee native, Laabs has been a resident of Germantown for more than 40 years. She is widowed and has three children, six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, who she hopes to pass along her generous mindset to.
"The least I can do is help where help is needed," she said. "It's just what you do."
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