Soroptimist International of Vacaville has named Anna Eaton, chief executive officer of the Vacaville Neighborhood Boys & Girls Club, as its 2021 Ruby Award winner for outstanding community service, it was announced during a virtual event this spring.
Nominated by Debby McGuire and hailed as a miracle worker, Anna has been with the Vacaville Boys & Girls Club for nine years, bringing a one-location program “on the brink of financial ruin into a thriving organization with nine sites and more than 700 members,” wrote Debby.
The Vacaville Neighborhood Boys & Girls Club serves local children from ages 6 to 18 as primarily an after-school program with educational support, mentoring, and career and leadership training.
“Under Anna’s guidance, the majority of members who attend the club through high school go on to college or a career-based institution,” wrote Debby. “Many of her students have been cited for their leadership abilities with awards and scholarships.”
When the global pandemic hit in 2020, Anna and her staff got creative, offering a full-day program with learning distance hubs, breakfast, lunch, and snack service, along with the continuance of the mentorship and life skills programs. Although several sites were forced to close due to their school-based locations, four of nine sites remained open in some capacity during 2020.
During the virtual meeting, Anna accepted the honor with humility.
“This means a lot, coming out of a very challenging year,” she told the organization. “I just know what the need is and want to make things happen for the people who need it most. I can’t do it without support. It’s an honor to be in this position, to love what I do. To get recognized by people like you, I’ll take it, but I’ll share with my team, they deserve the recognition too. It takes a community to wrap around us and love us so we can love all the kids.”
In the nomination, Debby highlighted a SMART GIRLS program, which Anna has shared with middle and high-school aged girls in Vacaville. Topics include skills mastery and resistance training, bodily changes and image, creating healthy relationships and healthy boundaries, understanding healthy lifestyles, along with career planning, self-sufficiency, and mentoring. The program also features a social media piece including cyber-bullying.
“We understand that we’re not just affecting the women and girls, but also their families and future generations as well,” said Anna.
An immigrant from Vietnam, “Anna created her own American dream by making dreams a possibility for the next generation,” wrote Debby. “Her boundless energy has opened doors for both girls and boys to become caring and productive citizens.”
Soroptimist International of Vacaville has donated $1,000 in Anna’s name to the Vacaville Neighborhood Boys and Girls Club.