Having endured trying situations of their own, New Yorkers of the Week Yuki Kotani and Michelle Javian founded Harboring Hearts Housing, which aims to support families going through medical hardship. NY1’s John Schiumo filed the following report.
Yuki Kotani and Michelle Javian met through mutual friends and found they had a lot in common.
“Both of our fathers were about to go through heart transplants with the same surgeon at the same hospital within months of each other,” says Kotani.
Both women spent a lot of time at the hospital and noticed something.
“While we were there we met so many families from around the world that didn't have a place to stay. They were literally sleeping on sofas in the waiting room, taking showers at other peoples’ apartments and eating really unhealthy foods, and I kept thinking and saying to myself, ‘how can we help these other families?’” says Javian.
Two years ago they started Harboring Hearts Housing.
“Harboring Hearts Housing is an organization to help heart patients and their families with affordable home-like housing and support,” says Javian.
They now help people like Samantha Tuttlebee, who is waiting for a heart transplant while on disability. She was looking for a place to live that could accommodate her heart condition. It had to be affordable, close to doctors, on the first floor, and have a sanitary kitchen.
Through fundraisers, Harboring Hearts Housing has raised more than $40,000 for families.
“Finding housing was horrible, horrible because you go and you are feeling sick and you are already feeling kind of half-human, and then to go and be turned down and rejected again and again,” says Tuttlebee.
Tutltlebee found an apartment, but the landlord had concerns about her ability to pay until Harboring Hearts stepped in to say they would help support her financially.
“Hopefully with this next event we will be able to help Samantha and her family by giving her a grant of $10,000 to help her directly with her housing and rent,” says Javian.
“I think going through what they have been through with their fathers, they understand home is where the heart is,” says Tuttlebee.
For opening their hearts for a good cause, Yuki Kotani and Michelle Javian are the latest New Yorkers of the Week.
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