Even throughout their grief, the two Long Island siblings behind Heidi’s Helping Hands are working to help others who are facing similar pain.
In 2019, Heidi Taylor was brought into Plainview Hospital, critically ill. Her children, Aidan and Zoey Taylor, were by her side during her last days.
Nurses and the clinical team saw the family, especially the two young children, struggling during this time of uncertainty. In an attempt to help, the staff reached out to Cohen Children’s Medical Center, where two child life specialists came over to Plainview Hospital and did what they call “legacy building” with the children.
They created plaster hand molds of the children holding hands with their mother and took handprints as well. These different crafts helped Aidan and Zoey make keepsakes with their mother before she passed.
The next day, Aidan and Zoey decided that they wanted to help.
“The way that they tell the story is that the next day they were picking up food as a family for dinner and the kids said, ‘We want to make sure that any other family that’s losing a loved one has the opportunity to create these types of items with their loved one,’” said Amanda Filippazzo, B.A., a Patient and Customer Experience Specialist at Plainview Hospital, who works closely with the Taylor family.
Although they were able to get supplies through help from Cohen Children’s Medical, Aidan and Zoey wanted Plainview Hospital to have their own supplies, and more.
“The kids are incredibly strong. They are really resilient, and they’ve turned such a tragedy into something beautiful,” Filippazzo said.
Aidan and Zoey Taylor named the program after their mother, calling it Heidi’s Helping Hands. Filippazzo and other Northwell staff partnered closely with the children to help turn their idea into a reality.
Aidan and Zoey Taylor held many local fundraisers at their school, and at a local candy shop to raise money for Heidi’s Helping Hands.
“It was really all led by these kids wanting to do something to honor their mom,” Filippazzo said.
When Covid hit, unexpected restrictions brought along unexpected challenges. However, the program was able to grow during this time. With the money Aidan and Zoey raised, new supplies were purchased and the program continued to expand.
For families that were unable to visit their loved ones in the hospital with Covid restrictions in place, hospital staff members make lockets and molds to deliver to the families of loved ones.
“It’s truly a gift to be able to offer these items and to facilitate these moments between families. I always say it’s a privilege to do this work and to do it on behalf of this family and these two young children who lost their mom. I definitely don’t take that lightly,” said Filippazzo, “It’s all for these kids, and so to be able to do it is truly a privilege”.
In such a dark time in their lives, Aidan and Zoey found the strength to look outward and think about what they could do to help others.
“Aidan and Zoey are just the epitome of resilience and compassion,” said Filippazzo, “I think we all have something we can learn from their kindness and openness.”
Heidi’s Helping Hands has just expanded into Plainview’s sister hospital, Syosset Hospital. If you are interested in donating to Heidi’s Helping Hands, visit support.northwell.edu/heidishelpinghands.