John: I’m here with Heidi Felix who has been nominated as a Model Citizen for this September issue of Model Citizens Magazine. Heidi, you’ve been nominated for all of the charity work that you do, for the amazing attitude that you always have, and also for what you do on a day-to-day basis for LifeVac. Congratulations!
Heidi: Thank you very much!
John Can you tell our readers and your fans a little bit more about yourself? How did you get started in this philanthropic world? Because that’s how I met you.
Heidi: I had an amazing sales career in Manhattan when I was a young mother. I decided to give that career up when my son Hunter got sick. I left my six-figure job at Xerox to be a stay-at-home mother. I decided to dedicate all the time I spent commuting to Manhattan, working my tail off to be with my children. I threw myself into the world of volunteering; PTA, became a class Mom, Girl scout leader, Cub scout leader and really embraced motherhood. I loved every second of it.
I took all the talents that I had in the business world and focused them on helping others. An organization I believe in is Kiwanis International which is dedicated to helping the children of the world. I advise a service leadership program, called Key Club. I have been Kiwanis Advisor working with service leadership program for over 10 years now.
I work with Key Club members at Wantagh High School and Nassau BOCES Center for Community Adjustment helping children become future Leaders. We perform community service, help others and give back to the community. I absolutely love it! I am in my 11th year of working with Wantagh Key Club.
John: That’s an incredible amount of work that you are doing, really helping kids understand how important it is to give back, pay it forward. That’s our motto here. So what else are you doing with Kiwanis?
Heidi: I am on the Kiwanis Board of Directors and Kiwanis advisor working with Key Club members. The kids look at me as if I am one of them. I really enjoy everything that we are doing in the community. We expanded our philanthropic programs with Kiwanis leading more events in Wantagh community. I am Distinguished Past President of the Kiwanis Club of Wantagh and actively recruit to get others involved. I love helping others and paying it forward. It all started because I wanted to set an example for my own children. I am a single mother of a 20-year boy and 21-year-old girl. I am very proud of Hunter and Heather and absolutely love spending every second that I can with them.
John: Now I met you, was it either Equity First or was it Pink Tie? You’re involved with both of them, right?
Heidi: Exactly. I was working for NEFCU, which is now called Jovia Financial which is still my bank. They are a great credit union and I enjoyed working this fantastic group of people. NEFCU was involved in financial literacy program. I worked with Rhonda Klch at Equity First Foundation, who is a dear friend. We were conducting financial literacy programs, teaching foster children at Family and Children’s Association about money. How to save and how they can help their foster parents. We also worked with the Department of Social Services to help people manage money received from DSS. Rhonda and I worked together quite a bit, and I am pretty sure that is how we first met.
John: Yes, that’s it.
Heidi: I got involved with Pink Tie because I truly believe in the organization. I had a few breast cancer scares and lost five friends to breast cancer.
John: That’s terrible. I’m sorry.
Heidi: Thank you. To me giving back and helping others with Pink Tie has been a fun experience. I met so many people who are incredible friends today.
John: We are at your current office today. It is a very unique company, which is also involved in some philanthropic efforts and saving lives. Can you tell us a little about LifeVac?
Heidi: Sure, I would love to talk to you about LifeVac. I met the inventor of Life Vac, Arthur Lih at a local Shark Tank competition. Angel Investors were doing a competition for local entrepreneurs to present their products. I attended the event with my friend, Joan Bucchino who worked with me at Xerox. She invented a game called “I Can Save” and NEFCU sponsored this for our financial literacy program. The game is interesting and helps teach children how to save their money and save the planet. I was sitting next to this gentleman who had an interesting-looking invention in his hands. I introduced myself asked him his name and what his invention was? He said, “my name is Arthur Lih, and I invented this product to help save lives.” I said, “That’s incredible! I wanted to learn more. We had a conversation and I learned more about Arthur Lih and his invention. How do you compete against an invention that is saving lives?
John: So, what happened?
Heidi: Arthur did his presentation, it was incredible. I thought, if I was a Shark Tank judge I would have invested in LifeVac! Arthur and I became friends over the last four years. I promoted Life Vac for years without any compensation because I believe in everything that his company is doing. Arthur is really making a difference and saving lives across the world. To date we have saved 74 lives, which is just remarkable. It makes me excited when I find out that we have saved another life.
John: For audiences not familiar, can you tell us what does LifeVac do? What is it?
Heidi: LifeVac is a portable, non-invasive suction device. If you are choking it will clear the airway obstruction. LifeVac is used when typical protocols are followed, abdominal thrusts or back blows, taught in first aid class do not work.
John: Like Heimlich Maneuver?
Heidi: Yes, the Heimlich Maneuver. If you are not a trained professional, it does not work 50% of the time.
John: How did he come up with that?
Heidi: Arthur was visiting a friend in the hospital who told him about a child that was seven years old and died from choking on a grape. At the time, Arthur had a seven-year-old daughter and he thought, “I cannot even imagine my Jackie dying.”
So, he asked, “Did they do the Heimlich? How did she die?” The emergency room staff did everything that they could, but no one could not remove the obstruction. Arthur got to work inventing something that would help him save his own childs life. Arthur started working on creating LifeVac 9 years ago. What he came up with is a remarkable product, LifeVac, a simple way of clearing an airway obstruction. LifeVac has a mask and a plunger with a patented one-way valve that will not allow air to be pushed into the airway. Arthur invented something that anyone could use and can be used on yourself. You do not have to be a medical professional to save a life. He wanted to share his invention with the world. Here we are five-years later, with this remarkable company, LifeVac. I was thrilled when Arthur contacted me two months ago. I was working with a company in Manhattan selling facilities management services and people were not even in their facilities during the pandemic. The Millennium Group was good to me, but I knew I needed a change. I was thrilled when Arthur offered me the position of Vice President of Sales and Marketing. I am having a wonderful time working with an amazing team. We are like a family. Our company’s mission is to save a million Lives. It is incredible! We are raising awareness about choking hazards. Every day I feel invigorated and am so excited to get to work. I no longer dread jumping on a train to work in the city. I am in an office surrounded by all the lives that LifeVac saved.
John: On that note, by the way, when my daughter was an infant, I heard my wife screaming from upstairs, “Come up here! Come quick!” I ran upstairs and my child was choking on one of those little round pretzels and she couldn’t do anything. So I hit my daughter on the back, she was too small to do the Heimlich, and as she started to turn blue we thought that our child was going to die until it finally came out. This would have been an amazing device to have, so I completely and it’s so important to get out there.
Heidi: You know many parents have a choking story. When my son was two-years old he loved chocolate and he put a peanut M&M in his mouth and got stuck in his windpipe. He could not speak and I knew he was choking. Thankfully I had been trained in First Aid, so I started the Heimlich, but it was not working. Thank God the back blows worked.
John: I had the training, but it didn’t work.
Heidi: Exactly. I had the training and for me it was a very scary moment. The fact that my child could die terrified me. Hunter was a medical miracle because his twin did not survive the pregnancy. We cherish both of our babies. I have a girl and a boy and am so blessed. Needless to say, with that situation, I was grateful and lucky that he was saved.
John: How do people get a hold of you if they want more information about the LifeVac, or want to order units for their restaurants or for some other location?
Heidi: We have an amazing website: www.lifevac.net our phone number is 877-LIFEVAC (543-3822)
We are on social media; Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. LifeVac uses many communication vehicles to inform people about our product.
John: Thank you so much, Heidi. Really, you do so much for the community and your nomination is well deserved.
Categories: Model Citizens Magazine