Hope 4 Hearts Day: Gambini Family

Harboring Hearts launched its first “Hope 4 Hearts Day” this past Saturday, May 14th 2016 with the Gambini family. Hope 4 Hearts Day (H4H) was established to create a personalized day of adventure and activities for a family in New York City. Our mission is to provide hope and inspiration for the patient and their family, as 66% of out-patients experience some form of depression post heart surgery.  


Harboring Hearts was first introduced to the Gambini family in 2012, where at 13 years old, Brandon was recovering from heart surgery. Ever since then, the Gambini family has held a special place in our hearts. It was an honor for the Harboring Hearts Team to launch H4H with a personalized day for Brandon and his family.


The Gambini family was picked up in a car service and brought to Times Square, where the family eagerly entered Madame Tussuad’s Wax Museum. Inside the family enjoyed walking around and taking pictures with their favorite actors and singers. Tupac and Hulk were some of Brandon’s personal favorites, as they looked so real to the actual person! The family also enjoyed a short animated 4D film with 3D glasses as they were getting poked from inside the chair! Before leaving, the family had their name engraved in an Oscar souvenir it for a great lasting memory of the day.


Following the museum, the family watched one of Brandon’s favorite superhero movies; Captain America in 3D.  In the evening, the family had a fun dinner together and was then picked up in a car service to go home.  We are so happy to have provided a fun day of activity and bonding time for Brandon and his family.
To view all of the pictures from this Saturday’s H4H, visit Flickr. Show some love for the Gambini family on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter for the latest updates on our next H4H Day!  


Heart Party At Montefiore Medical Center

On Wednesday, February 17, 2016 Harboring Hearts joined the Family Learning Center and Pediatric Cardiology Department at Montefiore Medical Center to host a Heart Party for more than 100 children and family members.


The party began at 4pm with a long and eager line of attendees, who were provided with Harboring Hearts goodie bags to collect prizes inside throughout the party. Guests entered the party to find the hall full of bright heart decorations everywhere! Inside there were three activity stations to keep guests active, with stations including arts and crafts, photo booth with props, and healthy in-kind snacking options. Our healthy cookies were generously provided by Enjoy Life Foods, and Chia bars by Healthy Warrior, who believe in supporting and encouraging better healthy snacking options for children without sacrificing delicious taste. Montefiore former patient Maria interacted with children to donate her own handmade woven hats. Additionally, HoneyBirds Playschool in BedStuy, Brooklyn made personalized hearts crafts for kids to take home.

The party was hosted with DJ Temple who played live upbeat music to get children off their feet, leading to a fun dance-off with Captain America. Children danced eagerly to trendy songs such as “Watch Me (Whip/NaeNae) by artist Silento, and won raffle prizes provided by Montefiore staff.


By the time we geared towards the end of the party at 6pm, children had collected an array of gifts and prizes! Everyone displayed their artistic masterpieces with painted cut-out hearts from the arts and craft table, silly pictures with Captain America from the photo booth and heart balloons to take home after the party!


Harboring Hearts is honored to collaborate with Montefiore Medical Center to provide children and their families a day full of fun activities to bring a smile on their faces. We look forward to upcoming events in the near future and making more hearts smile one at a time.

Watch patients and families have fun in this video clip by Bronx Net News.

For all pictures, visit our Flickr.

Valentine’s Reunion Party 2014 at Mount Sinai Hospital

Harboring Hearts was thrilled to team up with The Children’s Heart Fund, Project Sunshine, and Mount Sinai Hospital to celebrate the 28th Annual Valentine’s Reunion Party on February 18th. Lined with over a dozen activity tables, the Annenberg West Lobby came alive with the spirit of Heart Month as children enjoyed heart-healthy foods, crafts, and games.


Valentine's Reunion Party 2014


Harboring Hearts staff, interns, and volunteers had their hands full, managing a buffet catered by Pret A MangerKIND and GoGo squeeZ, which fed over 450 party-goers!


Valentine's Reunion Party 2014


The heart health community had a blast as children posed with their families and doctors at the photo booth. While some children flaunted their moves on the dance floor, others waited in excitement for a chance to greet special guest Miss Teen USA.


Valentine's Reunion Party 2014


From making heart healthy trail mixes to decorating piggy-banks and creating sand art, families left Mount Sinai with Harboring Hearts’ tote bags brimming with healthy treats and hand-made crafts.


Valentine's Reunion Party 2014


As with every community event, the Harboring Hearts team came away further inspired through meeting the many great patients and families who attended. For more pictures from the event, check out our photo album. Be sure to like Harboring Hearts on Facebook and follow our Twitter to stay in the loop about upcoming events and volunteer opportunities!

Special thanks to Sunny Norton for capturing great photographs of this exciting day!

Harboring Hearts Charity Ride Recap

Thank you for working out and sweating with me at the Charity Ride to benefit Harboring Hearts this past Sunday, January 26th!  With your support, we raised nearly $2,000!  Harboring Hearts and I are truly grateful.

The funds raised through these types of events support Harboring Hearts’ initiatives to provide emotional and financial support to vulnerable heart patients and their families in dire need of our assistance.  As I briefly mentioned at the event, we are providing a need not being met by other organizations.  Our goal for 2014 is to increase our impact within the NYC cardiac community.  We will accomplish this, with the help of your donations, by increasing our community reach through hospital events and fully utilizing our Emergency Fund Program.

If you are interested in making a donation to Harboring Hearts, please visit https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/harboringhearts or contact us at info@harboringhearts.org

By the way, check out some awesome pics from our event here at our Facebook page!

Yuki Kotani
Harboring Hearts Co-Founder


Be #KIND: Vote for Harboring Hearts!


This month vote your heart out for Harboring Hearts! We are currently in the running to receive $10,000 from KIND Healthy Snacks that will go towards our Community Program for adult and pediatric heart patients and their families and caregivers.

To date, our Community Program has benefited more than 1,500 patients and their families, offering essential respite from daily medical routines. Should we win, we will launch a new component in the Community Program aimed at enhancing the long-term health of participants. This may include: health education, integrative therapy for adult patients and caregivers, or sessions on healthy eating and food preparation with a dietician.

Voting is easy and just requires one click at http://projects.kindsnacks.com/project/harboring-hearts to make a difference in the lives of heart patients around NYC! Voting will continue now through December 31st, so be sure to cast your vote and spread the word out to friends and family, too! ❤

Harboring Hearts in Action: The Gambini Family One Year Later

It just wasn’t safe to stay anymore. Her son needed a heart transplant. She was recovering from breast cancer surgery. And the flood waters in her Little Ferry home kept rising.

Already besieged by incredible hardship, the Gambini family found themselves homeless, shuffling to shelters and staying with any friend willing to house them. They needed to lug highly sensitive medicine wherever they went. Their car had just washed up in the flooding, making transportation yet another nightmare.

Unexpectedly and mercifully, in the wake of Superstorm Hurricane Sandy, the Gambini family was thrown a life jacket by Harboring Hearts Housing. Thanks to the tireless efforts of HH, the Gambini family found a place to stay close to hospitals and their much-needed treatment.

Last weekend, the Gambini family and Harboring Hearts celebrated a year of recovery and a chance to raise more funds for more hearts in need through a special Oktoberfest dinner. All proceeds of the event were raised for Harboring Hearts programs which would help families just like the Gambinis, who were invited as special guests for a fun dinner with good food, music, and dance.

We would like to thank nj.com for their special feature on the Gambini family and Harboring Hearts! We appreciate your continued support and for covering this story that so poignantly illustrates our mission!

For all the details on the Gambini family’s heartwarming story and how HH helps heart patients, click the link below!

Recap: The Legion of Hearts Community Event

Recap written by Meghan Arsenault and Deirdre Lombardi

Harboring Hearts teamed up with the American Heart Association, Sephora, and ZICO Pure Coconut Water to host the Legion of Hearts event in the pediatric cardiology department at Mount Sinai Hospital on October 7th, 2013. About 20 volunteers joined us to provide a morning filled with cheer, laughter, and a heart-healthy breakfast!

Monday (7)

Over 50 patients and their families were able to take a break from their busy day and medical routine to have their face painted or makeup and nails done by makeup artists from Sephora.

Monday (15)

Wonder Woman made a surprise appearance and helped patients decorate their very own superhero capes.

Monday (41)

Everyone was delighted when Sharon Bush arrived with Teddy Share Bears for the young patients.

Monday (102)

Skylar Brandt, from the American Ballet Theatre, made a little ballerina’s day by giving her a signed pair of ballet pointe shoes.

Monday (96)

Sunny Norton was able to capture the many memorable moments with his photography throughout the event. Many thanks to all of our guests, volunteers, and supporters who joined us to make the Legion of Hearts community event a huge success!

To get involved in future Harboring Hearts events and learn more about how you can help, email info@harboringhearts.org!

Photo Credit: Sunny Norton

Photos from the Legion of Hearts

Harboring Hearts recently joined forces with the American Heart Association, Sephora, and ZICO: Pure Coconut Water to host our Legion of Hearts event at The Mount Sinai pediatric cardiology wing on October 7th, 2013.


Not only did we get help from our super sponsors–our event was successful thanks to the talented work of our volunteers and a few special guests and super women, including Sharon Bush and Skylar Brandt from The American Ballet Theatre. Thanks to the help of our fabulous supporters, we were able to host a fun morning with crafts, face-paint, and more!


Be sure to check out our Facebook page for more pictures from the event!

Harboring Hearts in Action: Jamilya and Ah-Niyla’s Story

For our clients, home is where the heart is, and they will do their best to stay with their loved ones–even if that means sleeping in the waiting room. Jamilya Lowery, whose daughter, Ah-Niyla, was diagnosed with myocarditis, made the decision to stay with her daughter at the cost of a good night’s sleep. Instead of renting an expensive hotel room to save money Jamilya was prepared to sleep anywhere from Ah-Niyla’s little bed to waiting room chairs.

That’s where Harboring Hearts steps in with the resources necessary to offer families a place to stay and ease the financial and emotional burdens on heart patients and their families during critical times.

Today we would like to thank NorthJersey.com for their special feature on Harboring Hearts and Jamilya Lowery and Ah-Niyla Williams. We appreciate your continued support, and for covering this story that so poignantly illustrates our mission.

For all the details on Jamilya and Ah-Niyla’s story click the link below!

Helping Patients to Adopt a Healthy Diet Can Be a Family Affair

This month we are happy to feature a post from guest blogger and nutrition expert Lisa Harper. Lisa is a freelance writer, creating content to educate and inform her readers about the importance of a healthy diet and lifestyle. She is a mother of two and when not experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen, enjoys taking walks with her family and dogs.


Happy family having roast chicken dinner at tableOne of the toughest things that many heart disease patients face is the upheaval in their diet that comes as a result of some critical thinking and honest appraisal of exactly how good their current diet is. Food is something that can unite or divide us, and when faced with making drastic changes to diet having the guidance and support of family can really have a positive effect.

Standard American Diet Causing Health Problems

A recent study by the American Heart Association found that as many as 79% of American adults are meeting 0 or just 1 of the recommended healthy diet metrics. That means that only 21% of American adults are getting 2 or more out of 5 which is a shocking statistic. This is something that needs urgent attention as our health is suffering due to it. The study also showed that 13.2% of deaths due to cardiovascular disease were attributed to poor diet, highlighting the importance of healthy eating for us all. We owe it to ourselves to make changes to our lifestyles that will improve our health condition, and diet is an important place to start.

Making Connections for a Healthy Future

Diet is something that is a central part of our daily lives and our cultural heritage and many people grow up eating certain meals which they love and cherish. This is why is makes it extremely difficult for us to alter our diets and to kick out those unhealthy foods to the curb. Let’s face it; nobody wants to sit down with a plate of salad in front of them whilst everybody else around the table has their traditional favorite family meal. The same goes for eating out or at social events such as barbecues and social gatherings, which is why discovering that you have a cardiovascular disease and that you need to change the diet you have grown up with can be such a difficult challenge to face.


One of the most positive things that you can do to support a loved one with a cardiovascular disease is for everyone in the house to alter their diets in line with ‘what the doctor orders’ so that instead of it being a difficult life change that they have to go through alone, they are going through it with everyone else. When the entire household embraces the new healthy eating diet, it can create a truly positive and supportive environment, making the experience much easier on the person with the health problems. Instead of sitting there watching everyone else eating the same old meals, they are now going to be exploring new cuisines alongside their family.

Everyone Benefits

Diet is one of the foundations of a healthy body, and when a health scare comes into a family it should act as a warning for everyone to change their habits in order to avoid similar problems. By grouping together and supporting each other with something as important as a full dietary overhaul, you are helping to ensure the long term health and vibrancy of the entire family as well as providing valuable moral support for each other. This could also help to save money in the long term as it will reduce the amount of medical bills and the costs of health coverage.