When JSerra junior Hannah Weinmeister founded her nonprofit, Hannah’s Dancers, earlier this year, she had no idea the immediate impact it would make on so many young students. Hannah’s Dancers teaches a variety of dance forms — such as jazz, tap, and ballet — to children at the Via Positiva Branch of the Boy & Girls Clubs of Capistrano Valley. The tuition? Free-of-charge.
At JSerra, Weinmeister is a student in the Arts Magnet Program and attends dance training 12 hours a week at the Pacific Ballet Conservatory, where she takes Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Tap, Modern, and Contemporary/Lyrical Dance. She is a member of the Pep Squad Dance Team as well as a wide variety of school clubs, including Girl Up, Paws for a Cause, Miracles for Kids, and Students Against Destructive Decisions clubs. Last but not least, she is a proud member of the Monarch Chapter of the National Charity League, which is a philanthropic organization comprised of mothers and daughters dedicated to serving and volunteering in their communities.
It was joining the National Charity League as a 6th grader volunteering at the Boys & Girls Club and seeing an empty dance studio that first planted the seed in her mind.
“I asked about it and was told that nobody was using it because there were no dance teachers to teach a dance program,” Weinmeister said. “I never forgot that.”
At 15 while working at the Pacific Ballet Conservatory assistant teaching toddlers how to dance, Weinmeister shared her vision with her mother, Rhonda, who helped her kick her plan into action just one year later. Weinmeister contacted the Boys & Girls Club, which agreed to incorporate her dance program into their already robust summer activities program. In the meantime, Rhonda Weinmeisterhelped her daughter work with a graphic designer to create a logo and an attorney to file the paperwork required to form a nonprofit. In just a few weeks, they also created a web site and established social media accounts, and raised funds to purchase dance shoes, mobile glassless dance mirrors, and dancewear and costumes.
This past summer over 80 children between the ages of 5-12 took part in weekly lessons with Hannah’s Dancers. Each enrolled student received a Hannah’s Dancers t-shirt and various fairy wings and tutus — not to mention each child was custom-fitted with a brand-new pair of dance shoes.
“Every single child has thanked and hugged me,” said Weinmeister. “It’s been really evident how happy they are.”
Weinmeister aspires to pursue a college degree at NYU for dance education. By doing so, she hopes to open a dance company focused on providing dance lessons to underprivileged youth. “I want to share my joy of dance with others and my biggest dream would be to offer it for free,” she said.
“Watching the Hannah’s Dancers’ end-of-summer showcase was a proud moment for me as a dance teacher at JSerra,” said Dance Teacher Ann-Marie McClellan. “With the help of parents and a team of volunteers including sophomore Olivia Lau, Hannah Weinmeister has started a wonderful dance school. Their generosity gives kids the chance to dance who otherwise might never have had the opportunity.”
Hannah’s Dancers’ teachers donate their time; moreover, 100% of all donations go directly to providing dance wear, shoes, lessons, and showcase opportunities to students. To make a donation, go to hannahsdancers.com/donate. You can also follow Hannah’s Dancers on Twitter and Instagram.