Michelle approached Yuki with the idea of creating a haven for families to stay while their loved ones were receiving cardiac treatment, and Yuki felt that a housing facility will not only provide solace for the heart patients and their families but provide a critical support network.
The dream was helped into fruition by founding members, Hadley Mongell and Salwa Touma, who had cared for family members with severe cardiac disease, along with Jessica Melore, a public health advocate, heart attack survivor and heart transplant recipient from age 16, who understood from a patient’s perspective the impact family support can have on the healing process. These founding members are the initial Harboring Hearts Housing volunteers that dedicated significant amounts of time and passion to the cause.
Harboring Hearts received their official 501c3 on April 10, 2009, the anniversary of Michelle’s father’s passing.
Harboring Hearts’s mission is rooted in each of its founding members’ personal connection to heart disease.
The vision for Harboring Hearts was initially inspired by Michelle Javian and Yuki Kotani whose fathers were both hospitalized for heart disease and ultimately received heart transplants within months of each other at the same hospital and by the same surgeon.
Michelle, whose father was hospitalized for a massive heart attack and heart transplant until complications led to his passing, wanted to honor the memory of her father. Yuki, whose father suffered from cardiomyopathy and received a heart transplant after 15 heart attacks over 10 years, experienced the emotional strains of watching her father suffer through heart disease.