HEADstrong Foundation Prevails in Appeal With Pro Bono Assistance
The nonprofit HEADstrong Foundation can establish a home here for cancer patients and their caregivers, a judge ruled today, despite objections from some neighbors in this suburban Philadelphia community.
In a one-page order, Judge Spiros E. Angelos denied an appeal challenging the Swarthmore Borough Council’s approval of HEADstrong’s plans for a residence, to be known as Nick’s House, for up to seven cancer patients and their caregivers while patients are being treated at area hospitals. The appeal, in the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, was filed earlier this year by eight couples and two individuals who live in the neighborhood of the property at 200 S. Chester Road.
HEADstrong was represented pro bono by Ballard Spahr and McCausland Keen + Buckman. The Ballard team was led by Matthew N. McClure, with the assistance of attorneys Dan Liang, Michael W. Skojec, Raymond A. Quaglia, Michael P. Cianfichi, and Nathan Farris. The McCausland team was led by Christine A. Reuther, with the assistance of attorneys Garth G. Hoyt and Benjamin R. Picker.
“On behalf of HEADstrong Foundation, we are pleased with Judge Angelos’s affirmance of the Borough Council’s well-reasoned decision in the foundation’s favor,” Mr. McClure said. “HEADstrong will be able to pursue its mission of helping people who are sick, hurting, and away from home. The evidence showed the HEADstrong home will not have a material adverse effect on the community, and that the Council acted properly in approving that use for the property.”
HEADstrong Foundation is headed by Cheryl Colleluori, whose son Nick, a college lacrosse player at Fordham University, died at age 21 in 2007 after a two-year battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In addition to dealing with Nick’s illness, Ms. Colleluori and her family faced the stresses and strains of traveling to out-of-town hospitals and appointments and extended stays away from home that were costly and uncomfortable. She met other patients’ families who were forced to sleep in their cars because they couldn’t afford lodging near where their loved one was receiving care.
HEADstrong Foundation has helped numerous families with members who have cancer, including patients and families who have lodged at the original Nick’s House, a foundation-owned two-bedroom apartment atop HEADstrong’s headquarters on a residential street in a nearby municipality. But need quickly outpaced capacity at the apartment, and Ms. Colleluori and HEADstrong colleagues spent several years fundraising and looking for a suitable location for a larger facility. Last year, they identified the Swarthmore property as a desirable building and location. To meet a zoning requirement, HEADstrong requested a fair housing accommodation, which the Borough’s Accommodation Request Review Board approved in September 2016. Objectors appealed that decision to the Council, which unanimously approved the accommodation in December 2016. The neighbors then filed the court appeal.
“We are thrilled by today’s court ruling and are anxious to move forward with the project, because there are people who are suffering and need help,” Ms. Colleluori said. “We could not have gotten to where we are without the assistance of Ballard Spahr and McCausland Keen + Buckman.”