SAAC in ACCtion: Helping Others

Jan. 13, 2010

Upon being asked what she wanted to do ‘when she grew up,’ Eugenia Delbono would always answer “I really just want to help people.”

Now, six months after leaving the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she is doing just that. A former rower and ACC-SAAC representative for UNC, Delbono is now living in Los Angeles, Calif. serving with the “Athletes in Action” ministry at the University of Southern California, and with a local nonprofit (Central City Community Outreach) that serves the children living in the homeless shelters of Skid Row in downtown L.A.

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and having emmigrated with her family to the United States in 1990 as a consequence of the desperate economic condition of the country, Delbono says her parent’s example quickly taught her the value of hard work, good education, and extending to others the many blessings that had been bestowed upon her. This mentality proved very evident in her academic, athletic and community service achievements.

Having been awarded the regional Coca-Cola Scholarship for her community service work, as well as the Presidential Community Service Scholarship, the SECU (State Employees Credit Union) People Helping People Scholarship and The Flag of the United States of America awarded for service to her country, Delbono carried this ‘helping others’ mentality to the University of North Carolina.

Eugenia DelbonoWhile at UNC, Delbono moved up to the varsity rowing team in the winter of her freshman year. By her senior year, she was a member of the top varsity boat (2008-2009 MVP’s), had earned the Team Award and the ‘Top 10 in Community Service Award.’ Eugenia also became very involved with the Carolina Leadership Academy as well as Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC). Delbono notes that her participation in both of these esteemed student-athlete development programs, “Taught me what it really meant to effectively hear and stand up for those whom I was representing.” This skill that once served to represent the women’s varsity rowing team, UNC and the ACC are now being applied to voice the cry of the children of Skid Row.

Approximately 300 children live in the Skid Row area of downtown Los Angeles. It is the mission of Central City Community Outreach (CCCO) to serve this population and their families. Living in Skid Row welfare hotels or homeless shelters, families struggle daily to provide for the basics of food, clothing, and shelter. Delbono states that, “In the midst of this needy and broken population, children are looking for stability and positive role models that give them the strength to survive. As an organization, we aim to provide this stability through holistic relationship building, educational tutoring, nutritional meals, recreation and character development.”

While Delbono’s ministry at the University of Southern California may not seem compatible with the ministry on Skid Row, she sees her position very differently.

“My role with both ministries allows me to serve as a bridge person, connecting the resources of the USC student athletes and athletic department, with the needs of the nonprofit and children on Skid Row.” As a result of this connection several USC sports teams have gotten involved in Skid Row via mentoring, clinics, service days and the recent ‘Winter Clothing Drive for Skid Row,’ headed up by the USC coaches. “I know for a fact that the USC athletic department has blessed CCCO just as much as CCCO has blessed the USC athletic department,” Delbono said.

Though her days often run from 8am -10pm, she says, “There is peace in the ‘work’ because I know this is exactly where the Lord wants me.” Delbono notes that her time as a student-athlete truly attributed to the preparation of her mind, body and soul to serve with these two ministries.