Laura Habr: First Citizen

  • By:  Kate Pittman

Kudos to Laura for being named 68th First Citizen of Virginia Beach!

On a cold, rainy night last December, a small crowd of young professionals huddled outside of Croc’s 19th Street Bistro. They were waiting for the perfect moment to surprise Laura Habr, co-owner of Croc’s (with husband Kal and daughters Callie and Noor) with the news that she had received the Virginia Beach Jaycee’s 68th First Citizen of Virginia Beach Award.

Inside Laura was surrounded by family and friends celebrating her restaurant’s 25th anniversary. She was completely unaware that months earlier, a quiet campaign began to nominate her for this prestigious designation.

Laura was definitely taken by surprise, which is a tradition of the First Citizen of Virginia Beach Award ceremony kick-off. In fact, she had no idea she’d even been nominated and was thrilled to receive the award.

After the announcement by the Jaycees, in an unexpected twist, friends and colleagues took over the mic to share stories of Laura’s great impact in the local community. It took almost 30 minutes before a dozen or more speakers said their congrats.

Laura’s passion for local community engagement is well known in Virginia Beach. Somehow she manages to make a difference in large and small ways yet still find time for the myriad other roles she plays: busy working mom, wife, daughter sister, aunt, friend, and small business owner. Here’s a glimpse of Laura’s busy and productive life.

Serving the Needs of the Community

This Busy Mom Also Co-Owns Croc’s 19th Street Bistro

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On Saturdays, you’ll find First Citizen Laura Habr hosting the Old Beach Farmers Market in her restaurant’s parking lot at the corner of 19th Street and Cypress Avenue as she has for the past 11 years. It’s become a local tradition and draws hundreds of people to the Central Beach District, once a neglected part of town.

On Sundays, Laura is indoors with a flurry of lashes and wigs as she hosts one of the largest and longest running drag brunch shows in Virginia, Drag Yourself to Brunch. Two shows every Sunday for over nine years welcome hundreds of people who enjoy themselves surrounded in an atmosphere of acceptance, diversity, and amusement.

Mondays feature Dinner with your Dog on the restaurant patio, every Third Tuesday is Bourbon, Burgers & Drag Bingo filled with silly prizes, and every second Wednesday features a cooking class and garden tour.

On weekdays Laura attends committee meetings, joins conference calls, helps plan events for the ViBe Creative District, and ensures the Old Beach Farmers Market is serving the needs of the community. Laura might also write an editorial on an environmental issue or dash up to D.C. or Richmond to meet with legislators.

Laura has served on a number of boards and committees for the past 20 years: co-founder of Old Beach Farmers Market; co-founder of ViBe Creative District; founder, Green Drinks Virginia Beach; member, Virginia Beach Restaurant Association; chair, The G.R.E.E.N. Sub-Committee of the Resort Advisory Commission; founding board member, Business Alliance for Protecting the Atlantic Coast; member, Virginia Green Travel Alliance; and member of the City of Virginia Beach’s Green Ribbon Committee and Health Services Advisory Board.

Planting Seeds in the Beach Community

Generous Volunteerism & Determination

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The Virginia Beach Jaycees, which began in 1948, is a young professionals’ network with a rich history of making a positive local impact. Some of the organization’s accomplishments include launching the East Coast Surfing Championship, starting the Virginia Beach Public Library system, and founding the Virginia Beach Rescue Squad.

Each year since 1950, the Virginia Beach Jaycees have been recognizing citizens over 40 who have made outstanding contributions to the welfare of the city with its First Citizen Award. Laura Habr, local community leaders agree, is most deserving.

“Laura is a visionary leader of Virginia Beach’s first arts district and co-founder of ViBe District Virginia Beach,” said Andrew Fine. “Her determination as a small business owner is matched by a generous volunteerism. Additionally, her business is a visible community supporter of LGBT-friendly efforts and highly inclusive for the entire Virginia Beach community.” Andrew Fine was recognized as First Citizen in 1990.

“When I read the Jaycee Creed, I cannot think of a person who more closely embodies this creed than Laura Habr,” said Hampton Roads Pride President Cole Werkheiser.

Karen Forget, executive director of Lynnhaven River Now, agrees. “Laura is an expert at planting and nurturing the seed of a good idea and then letting it grow and blossom,” Karen said. “Laura’s community organizational skills have created something good for our city and for all of us.”

The First Citizen Banquet Honors Laura

Earth Day Celebration at MOCA on April 22, 2019

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Laura will be honored at the First Citizen Banquet, which be held Monday, April 22, 2019, which is Earth Day, at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art. When asked what she wanted to incorporate into her First Citizen Banquet, Laura didn’t hesitate to promote the passions she’s dedicated her life to—the arts, local businesses, and the environment.

Guests can expect an artsy, environmentally friendly evening with much of the supplies and refreshments sourced from local vendors. The First Citizen Banquet is the Jaycees’ largest annual fundraiser, providing resources to give back to the local community year-round. Tickets for the First Citizen event are now on sale on the Virginia Beach Jaycees website and Facebook event.

For more information, visit http://vbjaycees.org. 

Kate Pittman is executive director of the ViBe Creative District. For more information, visit www.vibecreativedistrict.org

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