Giving Back with Lisa Shaffner

By Lisa Schaffner | July 12th, 2017

Mended Little Hearts of Central Virginia: Supporting Young Heart Patients and Their Families

Kristine Slovis remembers the moment like it was yesterday. “I went in for my 20-week ultrasound. I thought I was going to find out if I was having a boy or a girl,” she says. Instead, she learned her unborn child, a boy, had a congenital heart defect. Slovis left the appointment in tears, but today she is on the path of Giving Back and her son is 4 years old!

Mended Little Hearts of Central Virginia is a nonprofit organization providing support and educational information to parents with children diagnosed with CHD – congenital heart defects. Slovis, who discovered Mended Little Hearts two years ago, says there are more than 40 different heart defects, and one in 100 babies is born with CHD. Slovis maintains awareness is key. “I never heard of CHD before my son was diagnosed, or how prominent it is. The number of children affected by heart defects is astonishing.”

Slovis and I chatted on the day that well-known late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel announced his newborn son had surgery to correct a heart defect. The news was tough for her to digest. “It brought back a lot of memories of when my son, Gilbert, was 6 days old and he had his first open-heart surgery,” says Slovis. “The news is devastating for a parent. You’re looking at your child, and they look so perfect. They are perfect on the outside, but it’s so hard to understand there’s something so wrong on the inside.”

A Hanover County resident, Slovis volunteers as the event coordinator for Mended Little Hearts of Central Virginia. Slovis and other volunteers attend area health fairs and 5Ks to spread awareness of CHD. In addition, the organization will hold its second annual Superhero Heart Run in Richmond on Sunday, June 4, in Bryan Park to raise awareness and funds. Participants are encouraged to dress up as their favorite superhero, and each participant receives a superhero cape.

When asked how Boomer readers can help Mended Little Hearts, Slovis is quick to answer, “Donating items to our Bravery Bags would be extremely helpful!” The bags are handed out to families when they’re in the hospital with their child, and they can be a lifesaver for families who unexpectedly find themselves at the hospital for long stays.

Needed Bravery Bag items include travel-size shampoo and conditioner, toothpaste and deodorant as well as small activity games such as playing cards, game books like Sudoku, crayons and colored pencils. “We’re really low right now on coloring books, for both kids and adults,” says Slovis. The bags cost approximately $40 each to produce.

Mended Little Hearts of Central Virginia, which is part of the national Mended Hearts organization, provides more than education for heart families like Slovis. The organization provides a family support system. “It’s nice to be able to talk to someone who understands and who has been down the same path,” explains the stay-at-home mother.

What would life be like without Mended Little Hearts? Simple, exclaims Slovis. “I would have been a lost cause if Mended Little Hearts had not been there for me and my family.”

Lisa Schaffner, a former WRIC-TV anchor, is public relations and marketing director for UNOS, United Network for Organ Sharing. You can contact her at


These worthy organizations need your help.

Mended Little Hearts of Central Virginia

How it helps: Provides hope, help and healing to child heart patients and their families, including educational programs, advocacy and support resources.

How you can help: Donate needed items for Bravery Bags, which are given to families while they’re in the hospital with their child. Follow on Facebook at


Contact: Visit website or email 

Mended Hearts of Richmond

How it helps: Provides help, support, and encouragement to heart disease patients of all ages and their families.

How you can help: Make a financial contribution to support the purchase and placement of AEDs (Automated External Defibrillator) in public spaces such as schools and government buildings.


Contact: Visit website, call 804-873-7889, email or send correspondence to Mended Hearts of Richmond, P.O. Box 70234, Richmond, VA 23255

UnBound RVA

How it helps: Empowers and trains individuals from low-income communities to become entrepreneurs.

How you can help: Successful entrepreneurs, small business owners, business advisers and businesses professionals are needed to mentor the next wave of entrepreneurs.


Contact: Visit the website and fill out a volunteer application, call 804-332-6892 or email or

Firehouse Theatre Project

How it helps: Produces new plays, hosts emerging creative artists and supports cutting-edge artistic performances.

How you can help: Volunteer as an usher, paint sets, assist backstage or staff special events. Attend a performance at Firehouse Theatre, 1609 W. Broad St., Richmond.


Contact: Visit website, call 804-355-2001 or email

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