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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

Despite the national media attention about Ebola in recent weeks, there is one virus that is actually affecting Long Islanders, Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), with one of the first cases identified in North Hempstead on Sept. 18 and a recent case on Oct. 15 in Suffolk County, which school officials called for the closing of school, as a health precaution.

Dr. Charles Schleien, chairman of the department of pediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center, said that although the enterovirus is still active, cases are dwindling on Long Island. According to Schleien, approximately 500 cases have been reported this season of enterovirus, at Cohen’s Children Medical Center, with two to six patients being admitted per day.

Matt Bentz, of Forest Hills, was the winner of the Oyster Festival Raffle that took place as the event ended at 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 19. He had a choice between winning a 2015 Chrysler 200 three-year lease or $15,000 in cash. He chose the cash. He is the “Perfect Oyster Festival Raffle winner.”

Bentz is a computer systems administrator with Spa Creek Software, a company that writes software for other software developers, and has been to the festival numerous times over the years; in fact, next year he is hoping to sail here on his 24 ft. sailboat. He got it “reasonably” from a friend who was buying up.


Sports

The autumn varsity sports season is well on its way in Oyster Bay. Many young athletes have distinguished themselves. Several fine young athletes excelled right out of the gate and were chosen by the Oyster Bay Hight School coaches as Athletes of the Month for October 2014.

Cross Country Coach Kevin Cotter has athletes who consistently qualify for the states. Picking one to honor is a difficult task. Within this impressive group of talented athletes, one stands out: junior Alex Tosi, who recently broke the 17 minute barrier for a 5K course at Bethpage State park with a time of 16:52. This feat has not been accomplished since 2008.

5- and 6-year-old Peanuts

The Little Generals (Peanuts) stepped out into the cold Sunday morning ready to give the home crowd a show as they battled the Bellmore Braves, and that’s just what they did as the Generals beat the Braves 14-7. The teams battled to a first half tie as the Generals’ touchdown came on a 26-yard run by Kody Gehnrich, thanks to great blocks by John (Jack) Grace and Jack Symanski.

In the second half, where the Generals are usually at their best, the defense shut out the Braves as Rodney Hill, Jr. and Brandon Babel stepped in on the defense line to create a great push to allow Francesco Allocca to make eight tackles. The offense got a big boost with Allocca being allowed to play RB after playing QB the past two games, and boy did he respond behind great lead blocking from Luca Granito. Allocca carried the ball nine times for 60 yards and a TD coming on the last play of the game.


Calendar

Boys & Girls Club Gala

Thursday, October 23

Halloween Party

Saturday, October 25

Property Tax Exemptions Workshop

Tuesday, October 28



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