BY JOE MARVILLI
The New York Cardiac Health Center is run by a team of heart specialists who work around the clock to keep tabs on those who use the facilities. In recent years, the patients have started giving back.
The Fresh Meadows health center, located at 174-03 Horace Harding Expy., is home to a group of patients who call themselves the Tuesday Tigers. During the holiday season, this assembly takes up a money collection to give en masse to the staff that makes sure their every need is taken care of.
“Everybody here is a heart patient. All the staff are heart-trained specialists,” Berge Kayaian, the founder of Tuesday Tigers, said. “These people are on the ball. Professionally, they’re very, very good. Once in a while, something serious happens, and you should see them jump into action.”
With a hospital only two miles away, the center’s staff is able to quickly take care of any emergencies that come up with its patients. However, most of the time, the patients do not regularly interact with this portion of the team.
Kayaian came up with the idea of a collection about five years ago. Around Christmas, he noticed some members of the cardiac center were giving gifts in envelopes to the staff members who work by the desk. He thought that it would be a good idea to put together a gift for the entire staff, so that way those who work hard behind the scenes get rewarded for their work as well.
“The money goes to the entire staff because they all work for us,” he said. “It caught hold. Now, we’ve been doing this every year and every year, we have beaten the year before.”
The collection program generally starts around the end of November or early December. Besides the money envelope that is given, the contributing members also write messages on a card for the staff. There is no set amount to give, with Kayaian saying that everyone does what is in their heart to do.
Since the collections started, the patients at the cardiac center have turned into a group called the Tuesday Tigers, a name Kayaian created. They even made their own T-shirts, with a tiger’s roaring face coming out of a heart. They have more than 50 shirts so far.
“So I got their attention and said what do you think about us making T-shirts as the Tuesday Tigers? They all laughed and all their hands went up,” Kayaian said. “It’s a funny thing. They enjoyed it. It was something they could hang their hats onto.”
The Tuesday Tigers have now become a close-knit crew that does other activities together aside from their exercise programs at the Cardiac Center. They will chip in on lottery tickets and put together pools for the World Series and Super Bowl.
“It’s the togetherness. It’s the ambiance that’s in here,” Kayaian said. “We all laugh. We have fun. The underlying denominator of this whole thing is fun.”
Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Joey788.