The last couple months Mended Hearts has appeared in several different spots in this paper and in Helping Hands, too. And now the day for the first meeting is to be held here next Monday and is scheduled to meet the fourth Monday of each month during the year. The conference room of Barstow Community Hospital, 555 S. Seventh Ave. is the meeting place and the time will be at 1 p.m.

Mary Cleveland has been working hard to get a Mended Hearts chapter established here in Barstow and she must have the help of others interested in matters of the heart. She is a heart surgery survivor since about a year ago. While visiting family in the east, she had been rushed to a hospital and into surgery for congestive heart failure. She was afraid, frustrated, and depressed. Then, someone had a Mended Heart representative come visit her in the hospital. She was comforted with information by a survivor, and she received a special pillow to place over her sternum to use when breathing or coughing was difficult. She was helped to learn what to do to prepare for a healthy life style.

At this first Mended Heart meeting here on Monday, Mary wants to meet us to introduce the Mended Hearts program. She needs there to be in attendance:

o People who want to learn how to take better care of their hearts
o Volunteers willing to help develop a Mended Heart chapter here in Barstow (chapter members, officers and board of directors)
o Heart patient survivors willing to visit, phone and assist recent survivors
o Caregivers and family members of patients
o Healthcare professionals willing to provide experience/support/advise
o Any other interested persons wanting to know more about Mended Hearts.

There is no fee to join the local chapter, but there is to join the national organization. Those willing to serve patients in person must be trained and accredited and they must join Mended Hearts, Inc. for that. More than 230,000 visits (via hospital, telephone, or online visiting) are made annually to patients, families and caregivers by about 3,150 patient visitors.

The fee to join is $27 per year for an individual and $34 for two persons from the same family. That not only supports the national group but provides valuable information, a national magazine, newsletters, Internet bulletin, and other services. I'm sure you will hear more about that at the Monday meeting.

Mended Hearts began more than 50 years ago. It was founded in Boston in 1951 by four heart surgery patients assisted by the noted cardiologist and heart surgery pioneer, Dr. Dwight Harken. Growth of the project was great enough to prompt incorporation of The Mended Hearts, Inc. by 1955. The mission statement is "Dedicated to inspiring hope in heart disease patients and their families." They partner with hospitals and rehabilitation clinics to help those affected by heart disease to have a positive patient-care experience. Service comes through visiting programs, support groups, meetings and educational forums.

Please mark your calendars for Mon., Jan. 28, for the 1 p.m. meeting and attend if you are able. Call Mary Cleveland at 590-7286 for more information.

ABOUT THE WRITER: Helen Bendure is a correspondent for the Desert Dispatch She can be contacted at