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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

Tundra, the arctic snowy owl, fixed her golden eyes upon me, clucked her beak, then turned her head, ready for her close-up. Two months earlier she was near death at LaGuardia Airport, emaciated with a broken wing, but was saved by a dedicated group of people called Volunteers for Wildlife. The organization located at Bailey Arboretum in Lattingtown houses not only the rehabilitation hospital for wildlife but has aviaries where the public can see the rescued birds.

Earlier this month at the Seawanhaka Yacht Club, 160 people arrived for the organization’s fundraising gala.

Movie lovers once again have a chance to see first-run films in the theater without having to travel far. Glen Cove Cinemas re-opened last week, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and free films offered to celebrate the occasion.

“Thanks to all of the support we have here and all of you, Glen Cove is once again open for business,” said Mayor Reginald Spinello at the ceremony, held outside the theater on Thursday, April 10. “This is going to be so good for Glen Cove and the surrounding communities.”


Sports

Muttontown resident and Kellenberg freshman Ceara Ann Conroy has been named an All-League athlete for Girls Winter Track. The title of All-League is awarded to athletes based on a vote of all the coaches in the NSCHSAA League. All of the Girls Winter Track coaches in the league vote based on the athletes performance during the season, and Conroy’s outstanding performance has earned her the title of All League this year.

The Girls Varsity Lacrosse program at Oyster Bay High School is just in its second year and already it is making a difference. Senior defender Danielle Maggi has committed to play Division III lacrosse at Albright College.

Last year Maggi was recognized as the “Most Improved Player,” and this year she is being recruited to play in college.

Maggi said, “We did very well in our first varsity season last year (12-2). This year we are 100 percent going for the conference. I’m excited we finally have a varsity team.”


Calendar

Women Minding Their Own Business

Thursday, April 24

Dance Concert

Friday, April 25

Harbor and Beach Cleanup

Saturday, April 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