L’Tanya Van Hamersveld: Spirit of Gainesville nominee

Original article published: Friday, August 23, 2013 at 9:39 a.m. in the Gainesville Sun

L’Tanya Van Hamersveld’s official job for the past 3.5 years has been as a Zumba Gold instructor, but what she actually does is so much more than that.

L’Tanya’s lifelong goal has been to inspire and encourage people to think, laugh, follow their dreams, and change their lives for the better. In her enthusiastic leading of Zumba Gold classes L’Tanya does just that, making a significant difference, greatly enhancing the quality of life of Gainesville’s senior citizens. She believes individuals have the responsibility to share the gifts they have been given. To the more than one hundred seniors who participate in the twice weekly classes offered by Choices at the Senior Recreation Center, L’Tanya’s gifts are evident. She infuses each class with an attitude of acceptance, joy and gratitude, creating an atmosphere in which seniors can unselfconsciously experience the freedom of movement – leading to greater flexibility of both mind and body.

L’Tanya knows that ageing in not for the faint hearted. She is realistic about the many changes experienced by older adults while, at the same time, conveying the message that “it’s not over till it’s over.” Residents of Gainesville retirement complexes and assisted living facilities also benefit from L’Tanya’s Zumba Gold classes, including Chair Zumba offered at Pine Grove Apartments for those unable to exercise while standing.

L’Tanya is consistently willing to listen as a senior shares a concern about health or family. Recognizing the need for affection, connection, and warmth, a hug from L’Tanya reverberates throughout the day. She encourages easy socialization generating a sense of well-being and community. Participants leave each class invigorated by her efforts to make each experience memorable.

L’Tanya is also known in Gainesville as an accomplished actor, singer, dancer, and choreographer. In her “free” time she lends her energy to fundraising efforts for Heart Awareness, The American Cancer Society, and Haitian Relief. All of her endeavors reflect the true Spirit of Gainesville.

Nominated by Arlene Bargad

L’Tanya is one of the most inspirational people I have ever met. People (myself included) flock to her Zumba classes that I call the “Church of L’Tanya” because of how her enthusiasm, humility, and love for each person attending is truly transformative for those present. Especially when issues arise during classes, as they must with so many people attending, her masterful leadership infused with love and humor is a wonder to behold. Her infectious vibrancy stirs people to grow younger (she is a grandmother herself) just by attending her classes. She is indeed a blessing to our Gainesville community.


Letter regarding L’Tanya by Volunteers of America employee Dominique Fethiere

Hello All:

I just wanted to share how proud we are of our very own Zumba Gold teacher, L’Tanya Van Hamersveld. I discovered her last year as I was looking for someone dynamic and fun to provide a wellness/fitness program at Pine Grove and was blessed to Find L’Tanya through a community agency. She is a radiating light, positive energy and inner joy. Not all of our residents attend her classes but those who do will not miss a class. Two of her regulars are a resident who had a really bad stroke and an elderly lady with dementia. The residents absolutely adore her and she welcomes them personally, greets them, makes them laugh, hugs them and gives them the attention and appreciation they crave while getting them to exercise. The best part about Zumba Gold is that it is designed for people who are frail and/or unable to stand to exercise and those who attend swear by it and have stated that when L’Tanya comes, they feel rejuvenated and healthier in every sense of the word. We have also opened the program to people in the community who now come every Tuesday for Zumba Gold ! Pine Grove is mentioned in the article toward the end. Just thought I’d share as this put a happy smile on my face this morning!

Dominique Fethiere / Service Coordinator Pine Grove Apartments