Mended Hearts of Richmond

It's great to be alive - and to help others!


The Mended Hearts was founded in January, 1951, in Boston, MA, by four post-surgery heart patients. When these two men and two women met together, they related their experiences, their new feelings of wellness, expressed their hopes for the future, and appreciation for the second chance in life they had each been given with their "Mended Hearts." They wanted to share their experiences with and give supportive encouragement to those about to have heart surgery and to their families.

Dr. Dwight Harken of Harvard University is credited as the "Father of Mended Hearts", the second oldest support group in the country. As the number of heart surgery patients increased, the value of such an organization was recognized by heart patients from other cities, and The Mended Hearts, Inc. incorporated in 1955, adopted a constitution and bylaws.

In the 1960's coronary artery bypass surgery was developed. As other new procedures were developed, membership in Mended Hearts and the number of local chapters grew. The central offices were moved from Boston to Dallas, Texas. By the 1980's, the organization was firmly established as an all-volunteer support group for heart surgery patients.

As new diagnostic techniques and new ways to mend a heart are introduced, the network of thoroughly trained Mended Hearts Accredited Visitors are offering support and encouragement to cardiovascular patients and their families. Our work gives the added strength needed to overcome many doubts and fears. We of Mended Hearts are confident of our ability to lead active lives. We are a special kind of help.

Personal knowledge of the effectiveness of heart surgery enables the Mended Hearts also to assist in research programs designed to benefit patients by gathering statistics to aid and further the research of heart disease.

Through newsletters, monthly chapter meetings, regional workshops, annual national conventions, social events, special projects, the accredited visitors program and volunteer work, The Mended Hearts has strengthened and expanded. As our tradition of service continues, increasing respect for the value of Mended Hearts from the Medical Profession has enabled more and more patients to benefit from our motto - It's Great to Be Alive, and to Help Others.

This fifty-six page history of Mended Hearts was written by Chapter 28's newsletter editor and the webmaster. It was presented to the membership at the Boston convention. Delegates received copies and all chapters have had copies sent to them.

Central Virginia Chapter #28

On August 22, 1975, a meeting was held to explore the possibilities of establishing a Richmond Area Chapter of The Mended Hearts, Inc. Mr. Lawrence Hilgeman, Mr. Philip S. Nase, Mrs. Anne Davenport, and Mrs. Janet Kavadas were present. Mrs. Mildred M. Crooks, Executive Director of the American Heart Association, Richmond Area Chapter, and T. Shelton Nixon, Eastern Regional Chairman, The Mended Hearts, Inc., were also present. All present wanted to start a local chapter and decided to hold the charter meeting in September.

A meeting was held on September 11, 1975, at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Hilgeman. Mr. Hilgeman announced that the following had agreed to serve as officers for the present time:
*Lawrence Hilgeman, President
*Mrs. Anne Davenport, Vice President
*Philip S. Nase, Treasurer
*Mrs. Janie Hilgeman, Visiting-Adults
*Mrs. Janet Kavedas, Visiting-Children
*Mrs. Mildred Crooks, Advisor, American Heart Association

The first meeting was held in the Reynolds Metals Company Executive Office Auditorium on Thursday, September 25, 1975. Special guests introduced included Dr. Sigsby Gale, Dr. V. Eric Kemp, Dr. Richard R. Lower, Charles J. Sweat, and Dr. E. Claiborne Irby. Other guests included Mrs. T. Shelton Nixon, Ronald Nixon; Mrs. Cary G. Suter, President MCV Auxiliary; Miss Kathy Mahone, Heart Fund Sweetheart of 1975 of the Richmond Area Chapter, AHA; and Mrs. Jennie Alexander, who had a heart transplant on November 21, 1974.

The group voted to petition for a charter to form a chapter of The Mended Hearts, Inc. Thirty-seven people signed the petition as charter members. The following officers were elected to serve until June, 1976:
*Lawrence Hilgeman, President
*Mrs. Anne Davenport, Vice President
*Mrs. Doris Willson, Secretary
*Philip S. Nase, Treasurer

The first five visitors, accredited on April 1, 1976, were Lawrence Hilegeman, Anne Davenport, Philip Nase, Janet Kavadas, and Lloyd Sheppard.

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