Cohen Foundation Grant

Harboring Hearts is honored and grateful to be receiving a $25,000 grant from the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation! The foundation is committed to philanthropy and community services and gives to organizations that improve children’s healthcare and education, serve the underserved, support the arts, protect the environment, and further Lyme and tickborne disease research. Their grant was given in honor of World Heart Day! 


This grant will be used to support heart patients and their families through the Harboring Hearts Emergency Fund. The Emergency Fund provides emergency housing, transportation, and food to transplant and cardiac surgery patients and their families. In recognizing that having family close by aids in healing, this support is meant to be a safety net for families during their critical time of need. The generosity of the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation will not only allow the Emergency Fund to continue but to expand and thrive. 


We want to say thank you to the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation from all of us at Harboring Hearts for allowing us to continue impacting the lives of heart patients and their families. Their support will allow us to help more cardiac surgery and transplant patients over the next year!

Deborah’s Hope for Hearts Story

In 1998, at the age of 50, Deborah was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. Deborah’s condition progressed over time, leading eventually to stage 4 chronic heart failure. Thankfully, this past March, at the age of 73, Deborah received a heart transplant at NewYork-Presbyterian Columbia University Medical Center. 


In August, Deborah and her husband and caretaker John were able to celebrate 43 years of marriage. Harboring Hearts coordinated a Hope 4 Hearts Day to celebrate them!


On the day of their anniversary Deborah and John traveled to New York for Deborah’s first post transplant medical appointment. Harboring Hearts was able to greet them with goodie bags at their hotel room, and provide them with a horse drawn carriage ride in Central Park. This adventure was followed by a catered dinner, enjoyed in their hotel room, since Deborah’s transplant makes her immune system compromised. Their meal was delivered by Uber Eats and made by Sylvia’sRestaurant and dessert was provided by Lady M Cake Boutique. Thank you to Lady M who not only consistently provides the most delicious treats, they continue to support our work, and we are grateful to partner with them.


When asked about the day Deborah said “Thank you all for this gift. This special Hope 4 Hearts gift truly made our day enjoyable. I even got my physical therapy in – walking these New York City streets! Now, time to watch the Yankees win!” Thanks to the generous support of the family and friends of Jessica Melore, our former board member, Deborah and John’s day was made possible. 

Back to School

Students everywhere are returning to school this month, many for the first time since the Coronavirus Pandemic, marking a gap of 17 months or more since their last in person instruction.


While this is an exciting time for students, teachers, and their families, the return to in person instruction is far riskier for some than others. Students, teachers, and members of their households with heart disease are at an increased risk for a severe COVID-19 infection.


Children, especially older children, with heart disease are more vulnerable to serious cases of COVID-19, as shown by the higher hospitalization rates of children with heart disease when compared to other children. However, children are still not at as high of a risk as adults of developing severe COVID-19. Adults with heart disease are especially susceptible to Coronavirus, with one American College of Cardiology study showing that “people who have underlying cardiovascular disease have a higher mortality rate when it comes to COVID-19 (10.5 percent).” This was supported by the American Journal of Medical Sciences’ study showing “that the COVID-19 mortality rate for people with underlying cardiovascular disease was between 10.5 and nearly 14 percent”.


Because of these underlying risks, re-entering in person school environments, filled with children who make up the majority of unvaccinated Americans, especially in states with minimal COVID restrictions, places those with heart disease who go to school, or cohabitate with someone who does, at an extremely elevated risk for developing a severe case of COVID-19. In Florida for example, according to the CDC “During the week that ended Aug. 13, overall cases in the state fell 1% from the previous week, but cases in 12- to 19-year-olds increased by 16%, and children under 12 increased by 21%”. The increased spread highlights the need to continue mitigation efforts in protection of those with underlying conditions.


One article succinctly explained the situation, saying that “​​Our findings underscore the need for careful consideration of and preparation for school reopening this fall. The resumption of face-to-face instruction is critical for children’s development, health, and welfare. However, without adequate safeguards, reopening schools could put millions of vulnerable adults at risk for severe COVID-19 illness.” (Risk for Severe COVID-19 Illness Among Teachers and Adults Living With School-Aged Children)


For more information:


COVID Fundraising Impact

The COVID-19 pandemic has strained all of our resources over the past year and a half. Nonprofit organizations have felt the impact of this in many places, but perhaps none more than in fundraising. 


A survey by the Nonprofit Leadership Council found that the number one challenge facing nonprofit leaders in 2020 was fundraising. This survey showed that “​​The top three concerns for generating organizational revenue are: 1) cancelled fundraising events  2) loss of funders or corporate partners and 3) challenges meeting funder requirements or grants/contracts with government agencies at risk.” According to Philanthropy News this resulted in 75% of nonprofits making cuts to their budget over the past year. 


At the same time as these major losses in revenue have hit nonprofits, community and program needs have been on the rise due to the struggles of COVID-19. Additionally, according to one John Hopkins study, nonprofits have lost 7.4% of their staff and a large pool of volunteers. These circumstances have caused many nonprofits organizations to be stretched tighter than ever. Many organizations are struggling to continue operating on their current budget.


The good news is that while nonprofits have been hurt financially, individual giving since the pandemic has been higher than ever. Donations that are less than $250 have risen by over 19.2% since February 2020, likely due to a show of generosity and solidarity in the face of the pandemic. While the nonprofit sector will continue to see setbacks from the past year these individual gifts have become essential to helping smaller nonprofits continue to keep their doors open and serve their communities. 


To read more about this issue please visit:

The Impact of COVID-19 on Nonprofits and the Outlook for 2021.

Survey Reveals Covid-19 Impact on Nonprofits

COVID-19 Nonprofit Jobs Study

Photo by Visual Stories || Micheile on Unsplash 

Summer Fun

As we wrap up the summer be sure to take advantage of warmer weather and time with family. Staying active is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, especially for cardiovascular health, and is a great way to spend time with people you care about. From biking to walks to swimming or playing catch, whatever exercise works for you deserves to be celebrated.


According to the American Heart Association exercising for just thirty minutes or more a day can help you lose weight, lower your cholesterol, and blood pressure, all increasing your cardiovascular health. Physical activity also allows for better blood flow to the small arteries of your heart, lowering the risk of a heart attack, as well as helping your body stay healthy in other ways. One AHA study even found that “Patients with newly diagnosed heart disease who participate in an exercise program report an earlier return to work and improvements in other measures of quality of life, such as more self-confidence, lower stress, and less anxiety. By combining controlled studies, researchers have found that for heart attack patients who participated in a formal exercise program, the death rate is reduced by 20% to 25%.”


Here are a few ideas for fun activities you and your family can do this summer to stay active.

Pic: Mark Stosberg

The AAP Recommends That All Kids Be Screened For Cardiac Issues

Nikkya Hargrove, our director of programs, also writes for a publication called Scary Mommy. In a recent article, she spoke about the importance of pediatric cardiac screenings. Read more!

Disability Pride Month 

July is Disability Pride month! A celebration of visibility, advocacy and accessibility, and self love for people with disabilities that began following the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. 


Heart failure can often be caused by a disabling condition and a heart transplant procedure itself can be disabling.  Having a disability can affect a person’s life in a number of ways from impacting physical mobility to employment status. A recent AHA publication showed that while 78% of heart transplant patients were employed full time prior to their transplant, the same population post transplant saw an employment rate of only about 25%. The Disability Rights movement seeks to address these issues. 


A large part of Disability Pride month and the Disability Rights Movement is self advocacy. Self advocacy is rooted in people with disabilities coming together to demand justice and equality. This can look like advocating for accommodations in a work or school environment, joining a community advocacy or support group, or just asking for help when you need it! One of the core tenets of the Disability Rights Movement is “nothing about us without us”. That means your voice is needed in making the world a more fair and accessible place!! 


The following questions are a great starting point for self advocacy from the Self Advocacy Resource and Technical Assistance Center: 

As a self advocate, ask yourself these questions. 

1.Why do you want to get involved in self advocacy? 

2.What issues or goals do you want to work on? 

3.What strengths or talents do you have?

4.What challenges would you like to work on? 

5.Who can you work with on self advocacy?

6.How do you want to get involved in your community?

7.What will help you be more successful?

 For more information see the links below!

Heart Health and the LGBT+ community. 

June is Pride Month! Pride Month seeks to celebrate the history and inclusion of LGBT+ people, as well as continue advocating for LGBT+ rights and acceptance. We at Harboring Hearts want to celebrate Pride and discuss the intersectionality between Heart Health and the LGBT+ community.


According to American Heart Association LGBT+ individuals are more likely to be at risk for heart disease than their straight or cis-gendered peers. Harboring Hearts aims to help. While we know heart disease can affect anyone, studies have shown that LGBT+ individuals are at an elevated risk for CVD for  a number of reasons.


Harboring Hearts is dedicated to supporting the physical and emotional needs of heart patients and their families. Through the emergency fund, community support events, and other aid, Harboring Hearts is able to decrease the financial burden of patients and caregivers, as well as increase the emotional support. 


For more information on the intersection between LGBT+ people and CVD check out:


Photo By: Jiroe

Update on Our Annual Family Campaign!

Our Annual Family Campaign is one of our favorite events at Harboring Hearts. We know that family is an essential part of every patient’s life and healing, which is why during our Family Campaign 100% of money raised goes directly to helping patients and their families. This year, we exceeded our fundraising goal by over $1,000. Our Family Campaign raised  $26,257! Thank you to all you bought products from our Heart Art Shop. (link to our Heart Art Shop)


For the first time ever as a part of our Family Campaign we have introduced our Heart Art Shop, featuring artwork, created by our heart patients, on everything from mugs to tote bags. Thank you to all of our heart artists and our printer Customimpressions. We appreciate every person who purchased heart art! 


Every campaign we choose a family to highlight. This year, we would like to introduce you to the Mandel family. At the age of 60 Jeff Mandel was told he needed a heart transplant, 27 months later Jeff was admitted to the hospital, alone, during the Coronavirus pandemic. Thankfully, one week later Jeff received a transplant. Harboring Hearts was able to help Jeff’s wife, Faith, stay close, so she and Jeff could focus on the most important thing, recovery. Jeff says that “Harboring Hearts helped my family with dwelling so my wife who is in a power wheelchair could stay nearby and visit during my recovery.  Without them I don’t know what we would have done.” Faith shared that “just to have someone hold you for that time, I cannot even put it into words what that means.”


From our Harboring Hearts Family to yours we would like to thank you for all your support!

For Heart Art of your own:


Jeff Green, NBA Player, Meets Two Of Our Heart Patients

In May, Jeff Green, an NBA player with the Brooklyn Nets, surprised two Harboring Hearts heart patients over Zoom. In 2012, Jeff had emergency heart surgery which unexpectedly put his entire basketball career on hold. After recovering from his surgery, Jeff fought his way back to the NBA. Needless to say, Jeff has an inspiring story to share.


                       Jeff Green and his wife, Stephanie



During each surprise meeting, Jeff shared his own heart journey story, gave words of wisdom, and left Javon and Jaslin feeling like they could do anything!


Javon, a 26-year-old who was in the hospital awaiting a heart transplant and an avid Brooklyn Nets fan. From his hospital bed, Javon expressed how much he loves basketball and shared his expectations of Jeff for the NBA Playoffs, which were happening at the time of their meeting. Javon, like Jeff, is a dad, a role that keeps them fighting and focused on getting and staying healthy. A week after his surprise, Javon received his new heart and is now recovering at home. 


Javon and Jeff



Jaslin, an 8-year-old heart surgery patient, smiled ear to ear as soon as Jeff and his wife, Stephanie, popped on the screen. Jaslin drew a picture for Jeff and Stephanie, which she presented them with on the call. Stephanie, the author of Dream, Little Girl, Dream, read Jaslin her story. Towards the end of their meeting, Jeff asked Jaslin who her favorite basketball player was – she said Lebron, Kobe, and Jeff!  


Jaslin, Ana (mom), Jeff, and Stephanie



Thank you to Jeff and Stephanie Green for your compassion and warmth. Your words were inspiring and gave Javon and Jaslin space to reflect on their journeys! Thank you to the NBA and Brooklyn Nets for your support! Check out this link to learn more about Jeff’s heart journey!