We are so excited to kick off our TRIBE Member of the Month series by introducing you to one of our most inspirational community members – author Anna Kanianthra!
Anna has been rolling out her mat with us at Five Peaks Power Yoga since day one, and was a regular Bikram Yoga practitioner for many years prior. You can often find her practicing in our 9:30 and 12:00 classes alongside her daughter and granddaughter, inspiring everyone in class to breathe a little deeper.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to flow beside her yet, you may still recognize her name from our recent 12 Days of Giving; We featured Anna’s book, Recipe for Success in WIC: Based on a 35-Year Life Story, which recounts her experiences working as a groundbreaking Women, Infants, & Children (WIC) Program Manager with the Fairfax County Health Department, leading the program to be one of the most successful in the nation under her tenure.
We recently sat down with Anna to find our more about her time with WIC, as well as why she decided to donate 100% of the profits raised from the sales of her book to homeless families in India.
Five Peaks: Anna, thank you so much for agreeing to sit down and chat with us! We are excited to learn more about you and your time at WIC. Tell us a little more about yourself.
Anna: I was born and brought up in a middle class family of ten in the southern part of India. We moved to the US more than fifty years ago. My dream as a teenager was to work with low income families, especially mothers and children. I pursued a master’s degree in Clinical Nutrition from the University of Tennessee, and after graduating, worked initially as a teaching dietitian at the Saint Mary’s Medical Center in Knoxville, Tennessee. My family moved to Fairfax County, Virginia in 1975, which opened up the door for me to get a position as the Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) Program Manager with the Fairfax County Health Department. I finally retired on January 1st, 2016, after 35 years of serving our local community and fulfilling my dream of working in public service. My husband and I have been blessed with a wonderful son and a daughter, and four beautiful grandchildren. We are very lucky.
Five Peaks: What a fascinating life story! What made you decide to write your book, and share your story with the world?
Anna: My motivation for writing Recipe for Success in WIC: Based on a 35-Year Life Story, is because I strongly believe that others like myself, involved with Community Programs across the country, may be helped and inspired through my experiences described in the book. I believe that one of the most important rules of happiness in life is to do what you love most, and certainly in my case, my long journey with the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program in the state of Virginia helped to reinforce this belief. Looking back over the past 35 years of my journey, I can see how God placed me with the right people by my side when I needed them the most, to make Fairfax County’s WIC Program one of the most successful in the country.
Five Peaks: That’s phenomenal, thank you. It’s wonderful that, through this book, you now have the opportunity to impact so many more lives across the country, far beyond the borders of Fairfax County. Both public servants, and those they serve, will surely benefit greatly from your contributions and wisdom.
Anna: Yes, certainly.
Five Peaks: So, tell us – What made you decide to donate all of the profits from your book sales to the homeless in India?
Anna: Well, growing up, my mother had always worked with the homeless in India through the church. It was her life work, and it inspired me to do the same, and to continue giving back as my mother always did. Once I raise $500, I plan to spend a month back in India, working and cooking for the homeless through the church that my nephew is the Minister of – just like my mother did. I want to honor the memory of my mother, as well as my role as a public servant here in the States and abroad. That is why 100% of the proceeds I receive from each book sale are going back to the homeless people of India. It’s important work – each individual book sale will feed a single child in India 4 days’ worth of healthy, nutritious meals!
Five Peaks: Wow. Anna, that is wonderful. Important work, indeed.
Anna: Yes. There are so many in need. Every contribution makes a difference.
Five Peaks: So what’s next on the horizon? What are you working on now?
Anna: More writing, I think! I’m working on writing a Manual for Healthy Living, with a focus on maintaining a healthy body weight. Yoga, you know, helps greatly with this.
Five Peaks: That we do! We can’t wait to read it. Before we conclude, would you share one of your favorite stories with us, from your time at WIC?
Anna: There are many… reading the book will highlight them. But one – a Caucasian woman came in with her adopted African American son who was on a respirator needing counseling and coupons. I had a feeling I needed to talk with this woman on a personal level, so I asked her what had motivated her to adopt this child who had so many medical challenges, and caused her to be completely selfless with this child. The woman responded that she was volunteering in the hospital when she came across this child, and she instantly felt a pull to him – a need to be with him. It was as if God had put this child in her life, and she simply had to become his mother. I firmly believe that God puts special mothers with very special children.
Five Peaks: Thank you so much for sharing with us, Anna. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you better, and we can’t wait to read your book and learn even more!
Please join us in supporting Anna and her mission to help feed homeless children in India, by purchasing her book, Recipe for Success in WIC: Based on a 35-Year Life Story, on Amazon or your local bookstore. Bring in your proof-of-purchase, and we’ll give you or a guest a free class on us! And if you haven’t yet, make sure to hit up one of our 9:30 or 12:00 classes during the week – you might just be lucky enough to practice alongside this inspiring yogi!