MFLCares About Help-A-Heart

Pictured from left to right: Emily Graber, co-founder of Help-A-Heart; Sara Fuller, licensed mortgage loan originator; and Shannon and Grady Greco. Midwest Family Lending’s Sara Fuller, along with nephew Grady Greco and mother Shannon, present Emily Graber, co-founder of Help-A-Heart with a $2020 donation through Midwest Family Lending’s MFLCares program. Sara nominated Help-A-Heart to be February’s charity after seeing the program’s impact firsthand when it helped Grady through heart surgery.

Help-A-Heart is MFLCares’ February charity and has received an $2020 donation through Midwest Family Lending’s MFLCares program. The funds will be used in support of the nonprofit’s mission of “sharing love by providing emotional and financial support for Iowa families affected by congenital heart disease.”

“We’re incredibly grateful for the support of caring businesses like Midwest Family Lending that help aide our efforts to ensure families going through this feel less alone,” says Emily Graber, co-founder of Help-A-Heart. “Losing a child to this disease is something all of us think about daily. It’s not a club you’d choose to be in if you had a choice.”

MFLCares logo

Through MFLCares, Midwest Family Lending employees nominate and select one cause a month to support that is dear to their hearts.

“This cause is very close to me because of my nephew, Grady, who was born in 2011 with a double inlet left ventricle (the same condition as Graber’s son’s). He’s since had four surgeries and has come a long way,” says Sara Fuller, licensed mortgage loan originator with Midwest Family Lending. “Help-A-Heart was there in the time of need when my family was in the hospital needed food and support.”

Help-A-Heart’s Story

Graber co-founded Help-A-Heart 14 years ago with Melissa Hooper after the two met and became friends when their sons were having heart surgery. The mothers dreamed of starting an organization to help families both financially and emotionally while their children have extended hospital stays due to congenital heart disease.

“It’s a financial toll,” Graber says. “When you’re in there for months or longer, it’s just not feasible. Someone has to go back to work. You still have your bills and your mortgage, and you’re eating out all the time. We wanted to ease that financial burden a bit.”

What They Do

  • Provides $100/week or $400/month. Help-A-Heart has provided assistance to more than 400 different Iowa families since inception
  • Provides meals for families on surgery day
  • Gifts for heart kiddos and families during hospital stays
  • Gift cards for food and gas
  • Payment for lodging or their stay at the Ronald McDonald House
  • Special visits to families in the hospital (many times bearing gifts)
  • Monthly support group meetings held Valley Community Center in West Des Moines, the second Thursday of the month
  • Special events including: Mom’s Night Out, Valentine’s Day, Iowa Wolves Game, Christmas party, and other family oriented events

Who’s Eligible?

  • Iowa families with a child with a congenital heart defect
  • No financial requirements
  • Generally referred by nurses & social workers at the hospital, but can be referred by friends or family
  • Eligible after child has exceeded a 2-week hospitalization
Grady Greco is all smiles posing with Help-A-Heart’s Emily Graber. Grady’s family received support through Help-A-Heart when he had heart surgery. Funds from MFLCares will benefit families like the Grecos.

How You Can Help

To refer a family click here.

Upcoming Events

  • 6/15: Celebration of Life Dinner and Silent Auction, Walnut Creek Church in Windsor Heights
  • 9/12: Dylan’s Dragon Walk, Centennial Park, Waukee
  • 10/4: Superhero Heart Run, Raccoon River Park


Donations may be made online via PayPal or by check.


Below is a list of ideas of how you can give your talents and share your time:

  • Write notes of encouragement
  • Provide food for support group gatherings
  • Provide childcare for support group gatherings
  • Donate an auction basket for our annual fundraiser
  • Craft, sew, and create items
  • Donate gifts for heart kids and their siblings (note: button-up onesies make a great gift for infants in the hospital because it provides a passageway for wires and tubes)
  • Stuff and mail envelopes
  • Volunteer at events (example: “manning a booth”, set-up/ tear-down, taking photos)
  • Design T-shirts and posters for events

MFLCares is a program of Midwest Family Lending, a local mortgage company committed to creating customers for life and to community impact.

“Seeing the families connect and support each other and make friendships has been the hugest blessing for us,” Graber says. “It’s bigger than either of us thought could happen.”

-Emily Graber, Help-A-Heart
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