The HMF Beaudoin Family Foundation By Ross Beaudoin Heston studied dance and loved it. He believed that he could make a living as a dance teacher. Mabel was talented in music and drama. It was a fortuitous union: Mabel provided piano accompaniment for Heston’s dance students and developed dramatic presentations to showcase their abilities. Mabel also taught music and dramatics. In 1932, Heston and Mabel built a large one-room dance studio on land Heston had purchased from his parents. They remade a large commercial chicken house to provide temporary living quarters on the same property. They lived there until they could build a family home next to the studio in 1936. “Beaudoin Dance Studio” caught on. Business was good, and the couple taught lessons at their Colorado Avenue studio and developed a satellite studio in nearby Mountain View. Soon they added another large room to the dance studio. Heston was teaching not only tap but also “acrobatics.” In July 1936, Heston and Mabel had their first child, Philip “Ross” Beaudoin. With Grandma Grace Beaudoin nearby to help provide childcare, Mabel soon returned to teaching and assisting Heston. With the help of Mabel’s creativity, more and more students came to take classes and perform in Beaudoin Dance Studio shows. Business was good. In March 1940, a second child was born to Heston and Mabel: Billie Heston Beaudoin. Sadly, Mabel developed severe complications during labor and delivery, and she passed away. Heston was left in shock. It was fortunate that Heston’s mother and her husband lived only two blocks from the house and studio. Grace was able to care for Ross, as she had so often done already, and Grace’s beloved neighbor, Irene Bartholomae, was able to care for Billie. (Irene’s daughter Beverly was also a student at Beaudoin Dance Studio.) Heston continued to teach dance. Without the presence of Mabel, Heston relied on experienced dance students to help with the classes. Over time, Flora Basso, an adult student, became an assistant to Heston. Flora and Heston were married in June 1941. In the foll owing years, Heston and Flora (“Flo”) became deeply involved in developing their skills and promoting dance and performance. They attended many dance teacher advanced training programs, and Flo became an accredited teacher of the Cecchetti method of ballet. Tap, acrobatics, and ballet were soon joined by ballroom dance at Beaudoin Dance Studio. First, there were some adult ballroom classes and private ballroom lessons. In the late 1940s and into the ’50s and beyond, junior high and senior high ballroom classes flourished. With such wide offerings, the dance studio was busy every weekday plus Saturday morning. During these times, Heston and Flo became deeply involved with professional associations of dance. They were members of Dance Masters of California and Dance Masters of America for the rest of their lives. Each of them held offices in these organizations for many years and often led teacher instruction at conventions. The consistent pace of dance teaching, shows, and professional involvement lasted until age, and physical limitations finally made dancing impossible. For Heston, that was at age 85. For Flo that was age 101! The number of students who went through Beaudoin Dance Studio was in the multiple thousands. The Beaudoins welcomed students of all ethnic and social backgrounds and were particularly pleased when their classes had a diverse mix of students. Dance students learned not only the art and grace of dancing but Heston and Flo also included proper social etiquette and their belief in the essential value of every person. They insisted that students show courtesy and respect equally to everyone at the studio. Student performances were a regular feature of the Studio. Heston and Flo wrote the story script that would showcase the talents and abilities of the different classes. Rented auditoriums were the usual venue for the big shows. Heston and Flo were very aware that not everyone could attend such performances, and they would freely take sections of the shows “on the road” to care facilities, schools, and so on. They were always ready to perform themselves or dance with their students for civic, religious, and charitable organizations. Heston and Flo continued to teach dance into their senior years. As age took its toll on each of their physical capabilities and personal energy, they began to hope that somehow their love of dance and the value of all persons would continue after them. They did not know how that could be, but they thought that the resources from the studio might make that possible. They expressed this sentiment to their surviving son, Ross. So, from the proceeds of the sale of the Beaudoin Dance Studio and the love and care of Heston, Mable, and Flo, the HMF Beaudoin Family Foundation was established. Ross kindly provided this history to the Foundation so that he might share why his family’s motto is, “Together, making life better, one grant at a time.” Over the years, Ross had a number of formative experiences that have shaped his awareness of the world and his personal values: a grandmother who made him conscious of people in need in the local community; another grandmother who afforded him the experience of living among the poor in Italy after World War II; parents who were aware of and sensitive to differences among people and their life situations; parents who, in their personal lives and business, accepted and honored every person for their inherent value, not their social status or material assets. The Beaudoin family legacy blends the joys, triumphs, and troubles of human existence with the art and creativity nascent in every human being. Ross, his wife, Renata, and their four adult children believe that dance, music, and art are integral to the human journey. By creating a Family Foundation, they hope that they can bring new light and joy to the world for years to come. Learn how to start your own family foundation .