New York Life Foundation and the Cigna Foundation in partnership with E4E Relief have established the Brave of Heart Fund to support families of frontline healthcare heroes in their darkest hours.The Brave of Heart Fund provides charitable grants to eligible family members of frontline healthcare workers and volunteers who lose their lives to COVID-19. The Fund launched with $25 million donations each from New York Life and Cigna.
Cash grant awards will provide basic and continuing financial support for critical needs such as funeral costs, medical care, food, educational expenses, mortgage or rent payments and immediate living expenses, as these family members manage the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. Additionally, families of fallen healthcare workers who need help bearing the burden of the economic impact of losing their loved ones to COVID-19 - loss of income, funeral expenses or medical bills - are also encouraged to apply for grants at BraveofHeartFund.com.
"When tragedy strikes, large or small, people want to help. The Brave of Heart Fund is an overwhelming example of this, with New York Life and Cigna rising to the occasion to support fallen healthcare workers. In addition to this vital effort, E4E Relief offers employers of all sizes the ability to support employees impacted by the pandemic and other catastrophic disasters."
ISRAEL TOLENTINO was the kind of neighbor and friend everyone wants to know, with an infectious smile and "always ready to help" spirit. He was a Firefighter and a 15-year volunteer EMT in his community of Passaic, NJ.
Israel began feeling sick in early March when there was no protective equipment being used in the line of duty. His wife remarked how rare it was to see him unwell; Israel was always active, if not in the community, then at home with their two young children, ages 7 and 9. Soon, he couldn't eat and lost his sense of taste. When the aches in his body became severe, Israel went to the hospital. It was heartbreaking for his family to not be able to visit him there, and after a short while on a ventilator he passed away at only 33 years old. Everyone else in the house also tested positive and experienced mild symptoms, except for Israel's father. In an unimaginable time for their family, Israel's father passed away in the hospital 10 days after his son.
Israel's family and community have been incredibly supportive. The EMT held a socially distant candlelight vigil in his honor. During their time of immense loss, Israel's family heard about the Brave of Heart Fund through the Frontline Hero Fund and have been so grateful for the financial support. It bought time for his wife, allowing her to plan a service for him. Though only 10 people could attend, many drove by in their cars. She was happy to share his story because her hope is for his legacy to carry on, not just as a statistic of COVID-19 but as a superhero in their community.
BARRY MORRISON, a dedicated RN for 38 years, served in the US Navy before going to school and devoting his life to healthcare. He worked in psychiatric hospitals, pediatrics, and home health in the Chicago area. He was also a teacher for new nurses and had a lot of passion for his work.
Barry got sick in March, when getting a test was very difficult. Crystal, his wife of 45 years, sat in lines for hours to try and get a test, but was turned away each time. The couple and their family thought it may be the flu until the sickness started to heavily impact Barry's breathing. They begged a telenurse for a test; when she finally got them in, three member of the family tested positive.
Crystal learned of the Brave of Heart Fund from her daughter, a Bank of America employee, who helped her through the application process. Crystal said that because Barry was the household's sole source of income, this help "has been a Godsend" to cover housing and other bills in a time when she wasn't sure how she was going to get through financially. Because of the Brave of Heart Fund, Crystal was able to set money aside for when she can properly honor Barry with a burial ceremony at a veteran's cemetery. They have five children who can carry on Barry's strong work ethic.
"I'm very grateful beyond the words that can be written. With the death of my mother and financial pressure the load became unbearable. The grant provided in the literal sense catalyzed a relief that I am grateful for."
"Brave of Heart is an amazing organization that has helped me immensely through this time of sadness and uncertainty. Words can't describe the effect that losing my husband has had on our family. The Brave of Heart fund stepped in and assisted tremendously with the financial burden that came with losing my husband who was the only source income for the household. My family and I are forever grateful."
"Thank you for supporting and understanding that the loss involves more than just losing a physical person. Loss of income, grief, burden of now being single income household, stress, stigma and fear. So grateful!"