Jean Velarde Hope 4 Hearts Day

Harboring Hearts closed out the month of March with a Hope 4 Hearts Day honoring Jean Velarde and his family.


Jean and his family were picked up from their house and taken to the Highline where they were met by the Harboring Hearts team for a photo shoot to remember this wonderful day. They then enjoyed a fantastic dinner at Nick & Stef’s Steakhouse near Madison Square Garden.


To end the day they watched the New York Nets and the Miami Heat battle it out during an NBA game at Madison Square Garden. We spoke to Jean’s wife, Jackie, and she exclaimed,”We had so much fun. My son loved it, Thank you so much.” It was so great to hear that we could plan a great day for this wonderful family.


For all of the pictures from their day, visit Flickr. Want to hear more inspirational stories like Jean’s? LIKE us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter!

If you’re an organization that wants to become a partner and donate services for our Hope 4 Hearts Day program, please email

NYP Galaxy Party

On March 7th 2017 Harboring Hearts partnered with @nyphospital to create a fun Galaxy Party for pediatric heart patients.

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We had Michael Butler keeping the party going with some kid friendly tunes. Also, Buzz Lightyear from CLOWNS kept the kids entertained with his dance moves.

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There were games, arts & crafts, and some heart healthy snacks donated by Stop & Shop (Wheatley Plaza) for the kids to indulge in. Each child received a Harboring Hearts tote they could fill with all the crafts they created like the out of this world galaxy bottle and the straw rocket. It was a fun day for all involved.

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We want to thank everyone who was a part of making this day as special as it was.


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H4H with Nelson Sandoval

Wednesday January 25th was a great day spent celebrating Nelson Sandoval and his family. They began their day at the One world observatory where they were met by the Harboring Hearts team.


The experience started off as an elevator ride that opened up at the top of the building to portray the breathtaking view of the Manhattan skyline. The family then enjoyed a delicious lunch at the top surrounded by floor to ceiling windows.Nelson and his family were then treated to front row seats at the Cirque du Soleil. It was a big hit, as Nelson’s father stated “The kids really loved the show.” They ended their day strolling around Times Square, taking in the whole experience.


We gave the family a call the next day and Nelson Sr. exclaimed “That was a wonderful day – everyone was happy!” It was a great honor being able to create a fun day personalized for this wonderful family.

For all of the pictures from their day, visit Flickr. Want to hear more inspirationa
l stories like Nelson’s? LIKE us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter!

If you’re an organization that wants to become a partner and donate services for our Hope 4 Hearts Day program, please email

H4H with Angel Class

Harboring Hearts established Hope 4 Hearts Day (H4H) last spring as a source for families to receive high quality personalized attention and experience activities of their choice. The program is catered towards one recovered heart patient and their family every month. We aim to provide a day of hope and inspiration to heart patients as 65% of patients experience some form of depression post surgery. If you’re an organization interested in donating and collaborating for our upcoming H4H Days, please email


Harboring Hearts was introduced to Angel Class through his social worker from Mount Sinai, and upon learning more about him we knew H4H was a perfect fit! Angel and his cousin Dorcas were treated like superstars on Wednesday October 12th, 2016 with a packed day of fun adventures in the heart of NYC.


Angel and Dorcas began their day with a car service from their home to Central Park Zoo, where they were welcomed by the Harboring Hearts team. The group set out to see the creatures in the zoo including sleeping bears, and exotic birds flying indoors amongst many other animals. Afterwards, the duo had lunch at the infamous Sardi’s in the Theater District where Angel last ate 20 years prior and had very fond memories of it.


We saved the best for the last by providing Angel and Dorcas front row seats to The Lion King broadway show, which Angel specially requested from his wish-list. We spoke to Angel at the end of that week, and he was overwhelmed with how happy and appreciative he was for his H4H day. He described the day as feeling “like the Rockefellers”, and it put a spark in him that he hasn’t felt in years. Angel said “I didn’t think people like you guys existed anymore”, and we are overjoyed by his experience!

For all of the pictures from this very fun day, visit Flickr. Want to hear more inspirational stories like Angel’s? LIKE us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter!

H4H with Daquain Jenkins

On Tuesday September 13th, Harboring Hearts hosted the September Hope 4 Hearts Day (H4H) with Daquain Jenkins and his family in New York City. Daquain has become a close friend of Harboring Hearts since his time as a heart transplant patient at Mount Sinai Hospital. Learn more about Daquain’s inspiring story here.


The Jenkins family began their personalized day of adventure with a picnic at Central Park, where they took in the city’s landscape from the upper east side. Afterwards, Daquain took his children to visit Mount Sinai Hospital to meet the team of physicians and nurses that took good care of him during his medical treatment. Following the hospital visit, the family went to Central Park Zoo and finished the day watching a movie in Times Square. Before heading home the family enjoyed eating pizza as Daquain says, “they wanted a taste of the infamous New York slice.”


We are so happy to hear the day was “everything we could have imagined and even more”, as Daquain described his family’s experience. We aim to continue H4H with the ability to provide recovered heart patients with a day of adventure and opportunity to celebrate their health by bonding with loved ones in their lives.


For all of the pictures from this very fun day, visir Flickr. Want to hear more inspirational stories like Daquain’s? LIKE us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter!

If you’re an organization that wants to become a partner and donate services for our Hope 4 Hearts Day program, please email

H4H with Zion Reese & Family

Harboring Hearts’ “Hope 4 Hearts Day” (H4H) for August featured Zion Reese, and his family. Zion is now a healthy eight year old boy, and the personalized day symbolized his ability to overcome hardships with positivity and the community’s support.


We were first introduced to Zion in 2014 when he was six years old and undergoing a heart transplant. Harboring Hearts learned about the family’s financial hardships, and were able to provide assistance at their most critical time of need. Learn more about our connection to Zion and his family by reading his inspiring story.


For his H4H day, Zion requested to visit Coney Island and have lunch on the boardwalk as that area held a very special memory in his childhood. Zion said while he underwent treatment, he was eager to get healthy and come back to play at Coney Island.

The family arrived to New York City the night prior to Zion’s H4H day because the family lives outside of the tristate area. Zion’s H4H day began with a car service to Coney Island where the family enjoyed many rides at Luna Park. Followed by the roller coaster adventures, the Reese family ate lunch on the boardwalk just as Zion wished for and then enjoyed a sunny day at the beach. Towards the end of the day, the family visited the Brooklyn Aquarium at the end of the boardwalk and saw many sea creatures inside. Zion’s mom, KareemoKeisha, expressed her thoughts on the H4H program stating, “I greatly appreciate that Harboring Hearts was able to put a smile on Zion’s face.”


For all of the pictures from this very fun day, visit Flickr. Want to hear more inspirational stories like Zion’s? LIKE us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter!

If you’re an organization that wants to become a partner and donate services for our Hope 4 Hearts Day program, please email

Safari Heart Party at NYP!

On Tuesday August 9th, Harboring Hearts hosted a “Safari Heart Party” Community Event at New York-Presbyterian Hospital for pediatric patients.

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We hosted four arts and crafts activities, provided delicious healthy snacks and juices, had an animal scavenger hunt, and much more for kids and caregivers to enjoy! We had six volunteers participate at the event, who led the arts and crafts activities including face painting, making animal masks, painting sea creatures, and putting together an animal face puzzle! As children played, they drank juice from Red Jacket Orchard and cookies from Bitsy’s Brainfood and Enjoy Life.


As a special surprise, Alex the lion from Madagascar made a visit to spend time with the kids. Michael sang the latest pop songs to keep the kids dancing to live music. The Harboring Hearts team made 18 room deliveries to provide kids with personalized care packages which included educational and creative activities for them to enjoy in their rooms. With 50 attendees at the event, we had a lot of fun and are looking forward to coming back soon!

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A big shout-out to the New York-Presbyterian team for contributing to the success and happiness of another event, to the volunteers who made kids smile, and our partners for their food donations!

To become a partner and donate healthy snacks for our upcoming events, please email

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View all of the pictures on Flickr. Make sure to LIKE us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to get the latest updates on our upcoming events.

H4H with Camille & Ahmya

On Wednesday July 27th, 2016 the Harboring Hearts team visited Camille Singleton in her home in New Jersey. Camille’s 1 year old daughter, Ahmya holds a special connection to the Harboring Hearts team, and therefore it was a natural fit to hold a Hope 4 Hearts Day for the family.

Camille & Ahmya at their home

We were first introduced to the family when Ahmya was only a few months old undergoing cardiac procedures and receiving hospital care treatment in NYC. Camille reached out to Harboring Hearts about her story, and since then the duo have become family to us. We are very proud and grateful to share the news that Ahmya is very healthy, and in the best spirits for keeping her parents happy!

Camille & Ahmya at their home

In order to personalize the day for the family, we did our first at home services for them! Both mother and daughter received their very own hour long massages from specialists. Camille received a therapeutic massage from masseuse Sarah Bellino, while Ahmya’s specialist was from Zeel. Additionally, Camille had a fun mani-pedi pampering session from ManiCare. The family was provided care packages for basic baby necessities for Ahmya, and healthy snacks and home essentials for Camille.

Camille & Ahmya at their home

Hope 4 Hearts Day is a newly established program that aims to provide a day of personalized attention and activities for one heart patient and their family every month. We aim to provide a day of hope and inspiration to heart patients as 65% of patients experience some form of depression post surgery. If you’re an organization interested in donating tickets or services for our upcoming H4H, please email

For more pictures, visit Flickr. Show some love to our H4H families by commenting on our Facebook and make sure to follow us on Twitter for live updates!

Fetal Heart Population Event

On Tuesday July 26th Harboring Hearts joined efforts with the Mount Sinai Pediatrics Team to host a “Fetal Heart Population” pop-up event. The Fetal Heart Population consisted of a panel from Mount Sinai, personalized care packages for the families, a lunch-in, and arts & crafts activities for children.

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The Mount Sinai team on the panel consisted of a diverse group of experts, including physicians and lactation consultants who provided key advice and personal experience to pregnant mothers and those with newborns. In addition to the panel, nutritionist and first time mother Peggy Kotsopoulos joined us to provide her personal experience with congenital heart issues.

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Our care packages for mothers and children included Peggy’s book, healthy snack bars, protein powder, a Terri coupon, bandanas, soap, hand sanitizer, baby bottles, baby bibs, baby wash clothes, and much much more! Thank you to Vega, Terri, Watermelon Water for generously donating and contributing to our care packages. The families were very delighted to receive them and put them to use!



We are very excited to already start planning the next Fetal Heart Population event at Mount Sinai in November! Stay tuned for more details so you can join us next time. Thank you to everyone who made the event possible, and for making it a big success!

For all pictures, visit our Flickr! LIKE us on Facebook for more events and follow us on Twitter for live updates!

Qualifying for Disability Benefits with Heart Disease

I was born with a congenital heart defect—two in fact! I have Ebstein’s anomaly VSD. Ebstein’s anomaly is a deformation of my right ventricle, while a VSD is a hole in the wall of my heart’s two lower chambers. What does this mean for me? Fortunately, not much. I’ve had two surgeries so far to improve my health, and both have gone well. I’m not restricted from any physical activities, and I’m not even on any medication.

I’m very lucky. Not everyone with heart disease is so fortunate. I am able to walk to my office every day, but some people with heart disease are so ill, they’re completely unable to work at all. If this describes you or a loved one, there could be financial resources available for your family. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers benefits for people with heart disease who are unable to work.

Types of Programs Available for People with Heart Disease:

There are two forms of Social Security disability benefits. Medically qualifying for both will be exactly the same with heart disease; however, each program does have its own technical qualifications.

The first type of disability benefits is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). SSDI is only available for adults aged 18-66 who have worked throughout their lives and paid Social Security taxes. The SSA evaluates how much you’ve worked with an earned income called a “work credit.” While the amount of income you need to have contributed to taxes varies depending on your age, most SSDI applicants will qualify if they’ve worked at least part-time for any five of the past ten years.

The other form of disability benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is for people of all ages, but is only available to the most needy families. This means that if you or a spouse earns a living wage, you will not be able to qualify for SSI as an adult.

If your child has a heart problem and needs disability income, your household income will be evaluated. While childhood SSI income limits are not as strict as adult SSI limits, it may be hard for your son or daughter to qualify for SSI due to technical limitations. For example, a single parent with one child cannot be earning more than around $36,000 per year to qualify. If you have a spouse or other children, your SSI household income limit will be higher. You can determine whether or not your household income is too high for SSI by using a chart on the SSA’s website.

Medically Qualifying with Heart Disease:

If you want to qualify for disability benefits for heart disease, you will need to meet a listing in the SSA’s Blue Book. The Blue Book is a medical guide containing hundreds of disabilities and the exact symptoms or test results you’ll need to qualify.

Some qualifying conditions for adults include:

Conditions listed in the children’s version of the Blue Book include:

Each listing is complicated and requires various medical tests. For example, both heart failure listings require that your cardiologists test your tachycardia (rapid heart rate) at rest, and your ability to exercise. Other conditions, such as CHD, require cardiac imaging or catheterization that prove your oxygen levels are low due to your CHD. Because the entire Blue Book is available online, you can speak with your doctor about your heart disease’s listing and determine whether or not your medically qualify.

Some conditions are clearly disabling and will not require as much medical evidence to qualify. One such procedure is a heart transplant. If you or your child receives a heart transplant, you will automatically medically qualify for disability benefits for at least 12 months. After one year, the SSA will revaluate your claim and determine if you are ill enough to continue receiving benefits.

How to Apply for Disability Benefits:

There are two ways to apply for disability benefits: Either online, or at your nearest SSA office. If you’ve worked in the past and are applying for yourself, you can apply entirely online. If you are applying on behalf of your child, you will need to schedule an appointment at your nearest SSA office. You can do so by calling the SSA toll-free at 1-800-772-1213.

If your claim is initially rejected, do not give up! The vast majority of initial applications are denied, but there is a thorough appeals process available to you and your family. Nearly 50% of appealed claims are eventually approved.

This article was provided by Deanna Power, Director of Community Outreach at Social Security Disability Help. She specializes in helping potential applicants determine whether or not they medically qualify for benefits. If you need any help with your claim, or have any questions about the article, feel free to contact her at