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Helping Hearts In Need

Heart patients  awaiting surgery often have a long road ahead of them, and the ordeal can put a lot of strain on their families. A local mom and daughter who know firsthand the struggles that coincide with heart disease are devoting their time and energy to helping others through the Harboring Hearts organization.

Michelle Javian,co-founder and  CEO of Harboring Hearts, started the organization in honor of her father, who lost his battle to heart disease after a heart transplant in 2008. Both she and her mother, Mary, of Upper Brookville, spent long ours by his side in the hospital. While there they witnessed firsthand the need that existed for refuge and community support for heart patients and their families.

“We saw how people who traveled to New York from all over were eating unhealthy, were sleeping in the lobby because they couldn’t afford hotels...it was my mother who started helping by bringing in breakfast to the families and patients,” says Michelle.

“The money runs out after awhile...there’s no money for hotels or food...some people can’t pay their hospital bills. There was a need for the support,” says Mary.

Living in New York City and Long Island, Michelle says, “We were the fortunate ones because of our proximity to the hospital.”

Michelle’s father was first at  North Shore-LIJ, then at New York Presbyterian Hospital. She met Harboring Hearts co-founder Yuki Kotani through mutual friends while both of their fathers were going through heart transplant surgery. After realizing the need for support for families - both financial and emotional - the two co-founded Harboring Hearts in April 2009 in devotion to the memory of their fathers memory.  

“With heart disease, things can happen overnight. One minute you’re fine and the next...you just never know,” says Michelle, explaining the need for support for these patients and families. It is not something you can plan for, and with the cost of surgery and in many cases, travel, the disease can take a toll in many ways.

Harboring Hearts is the only nonprofit organization specifically dedicated to providing affordable, short-term housing for the heart patients and their families that travel to New York City for lifesaving medical treatment. Harboring Hearts’ aim is to help families create a home-like haven as well as access the informative and nurturing resources necessary to enhance their well-being as they attend to the needs associated with serious cardiac disease and care.

“We have helped hundreds of families in emergency situations, and thousands of others through community events,” says Michelle.

One of the first families they helped was a single mother from Trinidad with 5-year-old twin boys. The boys both needed heart transplants, and after they were released from the hospital, they were living in a shelter because they had nowhere else to go.

“It was upsetting,” says Michelle. “That’s the worst place you can go when recovering from a major surgery.”

Harboring Hearts helped them get an apartment and helped the mother get a job. She says they helped another family from New Hyde Park keep their home by paying their mortgage.

At first, the organization was open to helping many of those who contacted them. Now, they are more “official;” all patients receiving donations are screened by social workers, and the donations are decided upon on a case by case basis and must be approved.

Michelle says they raise money through diverse outlets, such as fundraising and community events. Currently, they are seeking a grant, and they recently held an online campaign that raised $30,000 in a week.

This weekend,  those interested can support the cause at Oktoberfest, on Saturday, Oct. 19. The event includes dinner, German dancers, beer tastings, oompa music and a sing along at Plattduetsche Park Restaurant, at 1132 Hempstead Turnpike, Franklin Square, from 7:30 p.m. to midnight. Tickets are $80 and proceeds will benefit Harboring Hearts; call 516-353-2987 for tickets. Visit www.harboringhearts.org for more information.

News

You may not actually see who is leaving books and magazines for the commuters at the Locust Valley Train Station, but those who have nicknamed these delightful and dedicated women the “Book Ladies.”

Sue Klein and Joan McCauley, who are Friends of the Library, have been collecting donated books from the community and displaying them at the Long Island Railroad waiting area every week. The Book Ladies have also displayed Locust Valley Library programs so that commuters are aware of all the wonderful events that are going on.  

There will be a different look to the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Board of Education come September. Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations Christopher Van Cott is leaving his position to take a similar role in the Oceanside School District. He is following in the footsteps of past OBEN School Superintendent Dr. Phyllis Harrington, who also left to take a similar position in Oceanside last year. The district will begin their search for a replacement for Van Cott this summer.


Sports

The Varsity Baseball Team finished the season with a league record of 11-3-1. In the playoffs, the team swept Carle Place in a best of three set to advance to the county finals vs. Wheatley at Hofstra University. The team finished the season as County runner-ups. The team was a nice combination of veteran varsity leaders and new comers to the varsity with six senior players and four freshmen on the squad. Along with four juniors, the team maintained the winning ways of a program that has won the league championship 7 out of the last eight years and won the county championship 6 of those years. Senior Berkeley Golon, Junior Jackson O’Neill, and Junior Stephen Spiegel received All-County honors. Senior Robbie Venegas and Freshman Harrison Treble received All-League honors. With two All-County pitchers coming back and four freshmen going into their second varsity season mixed with the other juniors and new players coming up from another successful JV season, the team expects to continue to work towards the goal of another county title next season.

The 2014 Oyster Bay High School Lady Baymen varsity spring track team recently completed a most memorable and record breaking season. Two school records were shattered this season; one relay record and one individual. Oyster Bay’s 4x800 meter relay team comprised of seniors Nicole Giannetti, Cassandra Iacono and juniors Linda Cameron and Rachel Wesley, broke the existing school record, and later broke their own record with a time of 10:01.56 at the Section VIII State Qualifier Meet on May 29.

Nicole Giannetti‘s senior year as a member of the Oyster Bay Girls’ Varsity Track team will also be one that will be long remembered. In addition to helping break the school’s 4x800 meters relay record, Giannetti broke the school’s 2000 meter steeplechase record, with a time of 7:23.79. Winning the 1500 meter run in very dramatic fashion at the Nassau Coaches Invitational, with an amazing time of 4:59 was a memorable mid-season highlight. Giannetti earned All-Conference honors in both the 1500 meters and 3000 meter runs and All County honors in the 2000 meter steeplechase. Giannetti qualified for the New York State Track and Field Championship in the 2000 meter steeplechase, finishing fifth and thus earning All-State honors. Giannetti was recruited by Haverford College to run for them when she attends this fall where she will study bio-chemistry.

Calendar

OB Band Concerts

Wednesday, July 23

Music Under The Stars

Friday, July 25

Annual Chicken BBQ

Saturday, July 26



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com