BELOIT - In 1970, Cindy Laube came to Beloit as a student teacher at Gaston Elementary School with hopes of making a difference for her students.
She was hired as a kindergarten teacher, with many young people and the community benefiting from her caring ways and commitment.
"I like to share that I literally walked off the graduation stage right into my first job," Laube said.
As the mother of three girls, she volunteered as a Girl Scout leader for her daughters' troops, and proudly saw two of them attain the Gold Award (the highest achievement within the Girl Scouts) and one reach Silver Award status.
Because of her interest in working with young people, Laube was drawn to join a local Kiwanis Club, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of children one community at a time. Originally a member of the evening club, Cindy served as club president multiple times. Since the noon and evening clubs merged, she has continued her volunteer leadership by serving as president-elect for the noon club.
Current club president, Larry Kane, is quick to sing her praises.
"Cindy is probably the number one volunteer of our club. She not only helps with every project we do from bell ringing, our pancake day fundraiser, peanut day fundraiser, playing bingo with the residents at Premiere Care once a month and everything else we do as a club," Kane said.
Kane also acknowledges that Laube is known to recruit additional volunteers from outside the club to assist with projects.
"I like to make people happy, and that makes me happy," Laube said of her volunteer efforts.
While a member of Kiwanis, Laube was drawn to a special project at the high school called Becca's Closet. Kathy Pohl, co-chair of Becca's Closet, credits Laube with being a major part of the program since its inception in 2009. The club was approached with the idea of starting a prom dress closet, and they were seeking the club's support.
"Not only did we get their support, but Cindy, who was president at the time, became actively involved as well. Since then Cindy and I have served as the co-chairpersons of Becca's Closet and the Knight's Armory (which is the boy's prom closet)," Pohl said.
In her capacity as co-chair, Laube is involved in soliciting dresses and the accessories that complete the formal look, assisting with distribution and has even housed overflow dresses in her garage when necessary.
"Cindy is a delight and fun to work with. She is organized and innovative. She has a genuine love for what we do and helps with every aspect of the closet. We have helped hundreds of kids get prom attire over the last nine years and share many special memories associated with Becca's Closet and the Knight's Armory," Pohl said.
"It's exciting to see girls find the perfect dress, especially those who might not be able to attend due to the expense," Laube said.
On a professional level, Laube was asked to become part of the Even Start Family Literacy program as a teacher. Since many of the Even Start participants are Hispanic, the program focuses on the entire family coming to school. It is a collaborative effort between the School District of Beloit, which serves infants, toddlers 3 and 4-year-olds, and Blackhawk Technical College, which supports three adult classrooms. Laube coordinates the program from 8 a.m. to noon every day. She quickly developed an attachment to the children, who "become like family" to her.
This led to Cindy's involvement with the Latino Services Provider Coalition (LSPC), and LULAC #338 (League of United Latin American Citizens). "Because many families of the Even Start program are Hispanic, they struggle to find honest people to help them," said Cecilia Ramirez, LSPC Coordinator, and president of LULAC #338.
Most of the time Latino families seek her to help them with questions with their children's schooling, filling out paperwork, making phone calls, helping them with college transition and information.
"Because of her loving personality, she has touched hearts, and she has been a mentor to other," she added.
Laube's connection with the families led to the mothers asking for the development of a cultural dance troupe.
Often lending her support to fundraisers, Laube recalls helping to make 1,600 tamales to raise funds for LULAC national dues and local scholarships.
When asked what her favorite volunteer project is, she smiles and replies: "Whatever I'm involved in at the moment."