My good friend Louise Stevenson is amazing. Seriously.
Lou and her husband Dale live in Vankleek Hill, which is a small town of about 1800 souls in eastern Ontario. I used to live there, in a lovely old victorian house on a corner near the middle of the village, but alas, that didn’t last. Don’t get me wrong:I love Montreal. But I also loved living in Vankleek Hill.
Anyway, a few years ago, Lou took up Zumba. Soon she was training as an instructor, and soon after that she had a increasingly successful business called “Zumba on the Hill” — providing not only fitness classes, but a burgeoning community that over time has come to call itself the “Zu-Lou Tribe” (Zumba-Lou, get it?)
No surprise. Lou is a natural leader and community builder. People automatically rally around her, and she uses her talents to make her corner of the world a better place. Zumba seems to attract people who want to give back, and Lou is no exception. To her, it’s not just a business: it’s a passion, a daily joy, and an opportunity to do some good.
Thanks to her leadership and hard work, tens of thousands of dollars have been raised over the last few years for various causes, from burn units in hospitals to an adapted local playground. These projects aren’t just for Vankleek Hill (that too…): people are benefitting from Lou’s dedication to others all over eastern Ontario, from Hawkesbury to Ottawa. I count myself lucky to have been able to
participate in some of those events, and I could not be prouder of my friend.
Anyway, last fall, Lou’s business took another step forward when she opened the “Zudio” in Vankleek Hill. The Zudio is an educational and entertainment centre providing Zumba classes, of course, but also bookable for other kinds of classes and events. The Zudio opened in October as a centre dedicated to personal empowerment and healthy living.
I was at the opening, taking pictures. Lou and I set up what we called an “empowerment photo booth” where people wrote positive messages about themselves on a white board and posed for a photo in front of the giant mural at the front of the room. You can see some of my favourites from that photo booth at the bottom of this entry. People had a blast.
So this blog post is really mainly to celebrate my friend Louise. I wish everyone were like her, and the best thing is… I think we all can be.
(By the way, the mural at the top of this post was designed and painted by Lou’s artist husband, Dale Eaglesham. You should definitely check out his work if you don’t already know it).
Here are some pictures!