PUBLISHED:May 02, 2023

Community Enterprise Clinic helps launch nonprofit aiming to house families of Duke Children's patients


Durham-based Harper's Home plans to build cottages and duplexes that can serve as temporary housing for out-of-town families while their kids are in treatment.

Caleb Strawn JD/MTS '23 with Heather Hindin and daughter Harper Caleb Strawn JD/MTS '23 with Heather Hindin and daughter Harper

When Heather Hindin’s 9-year-old daughter, Harper, began treatment for leukemia at Duke Children’s Hospital in fall 2021, she encountered many families who had traveled from far away for care for their children, often with the prospect of a long-term stay. She and Harper counted themselves lucky that their home was in Durham, just two miles away.

“We were able to get there and back in 10 minutes, and after really hard days or after a week in the hospital, we were fortunate enough to be able to walk in our own front door, to be with our dogs, and to sleep in our bed, and we know that that's not the case for everybody,” Hindin said.

With the help of Duke Law School’s Community Enterprise Clinic, Hindin is now launching a nonprofit that will give more families with kids in treatment at Duke that comfort and stability. The organization, Harper’s Home, will raise funds with plans to build a small number of cottages and duplexes on her one-acre property that families can use as a temporary home while their children are in the hospital.

“Many of our friends had challenges with their housing during their long-term treatment stays – like Airbnbs that they booked for four months thinking that treatment would be three months but then it ended up being six months, so they had to live out of suitcases and hop from hotel to hotel,” Hindin said. “They felt kind of itinerant. And that is on top of everything else, on top of figuring out the medical system and how you're going to pay the bills. We're fortunate and we want to be able to share that good fortune with other people.”

Through a group of MBA students who had helped her draw up the initial plans for Harper’s Home, Hindin learned about the clinic, which serves nonprofit organizations and social entrepreneurs that need assistance planning and implementing community development projects. Working under the supervision of the clinic’s director, Clinical Professor Andrew Foster, students serve as outside general counsel to clients, taking transactional projects from conception to implementation in areas such as affordable housing, community revitalization, business formation, and public policy.

Foster assigned Harper’s Home to student-attorney Caleb Strawn JD/MTS ’23, who had enrolled in the clinic for the spring semester. Strawn is senior research editor on Law and Contemporary Problems and during his time at Duke has been a LEAD Fellow, a tour guide, a volunteer with the pro bono Healthcare Planning Project, and president of the Christian Legal Society. He has also been an orientation leader at the Divinity School, where he will earn a master’s degree in addition to his law degree.

Strawn’s interest in social entrepreneurship and plans to practice corporate or real estate law after graduation led him to enroll in the Community Enterprise Clinic (it is one of two transactional clinics at Duke Law). He also hoped to gain practical experience representing real clients, though he never expected to work with them as closely as he has with Harper’s Home.

“It’s really been fun because Professor Foster has given me a lot of his trust in letting me run with the case, make real decisions related to the representation, and advise Heather,” said Strawn, who will join Robinson Bradshaw in Charlotte this fall. “I wanted to get experience building relationships and trust with clients and feeling comfortable in the client-advising context. Professor Foster empowering us to do that has been extremely valuable to me and my future practice.”

In an initial Zoom meeting, Strawn worked with Hindin to develop a list of priorities for starting Harper’s Home. Over the course of the semester, Strawn has drafted articles of incorporation and by-laws for the organization as well as its application for tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service and a charitable solicitation license from the state of North Carolina. He has also written a memo on possible real estate transaction structures that would enable her and Harper to stay in their house while leasing or selling the part of the lot where the cottages will be built to the nonprofit, examining, among other things, the risks posed by such considerations as subdivision and zoning, private inurement, and directors’ fiduciary duties.

 “Caleb has been dogged in his determination to make sure that all of these priorities get addressed,” Hindin said. “I don't know how he has the time to do all of the things that he's doing.”

Strawn said he has drawn on what he learned in Commercial Real Estate Transactions, Negotiations, and Business Associations, as well as in the weekly clinic seminar. But he’s also had to think on his feet. Hindin surprised Strawn by asking him to make a solo presentation to Harper’s Home’s newly formed board to run through the work he had done and discuss open items. He managed the meeting successfully, despite having only a couple of days to prepare.

“It's been a perfect capstone experience at the Law School, getting to pull together everything that I've learned in a variety of classes and bringing it to bear on this representation,” Strawn said.

“Getting to walk through the formation process with somebody eager to start an organization and actualize their mission has been an incredible experience. So much of my life has been formed by nonprofits, whether it’s schools or churches or camps. Accordingly, in my career, I would like to be able to meaningfully counsel nonprofits, both because of the ways in which they’ve deeply benefitted me and because of their ability to deeply benefit others. Working with these kinds of organizations directly ties to my Divinity School education, too.”

Harper has returned to school and activities such as chorus and horseback riding, and in February, she will complete her monthly chemotherapy infusion at Duke Children’s and nightly oral chemotherapy treatments at home. Hindin said she hopes to host a fundraiser or even a ground-breaking to celebrate.

“I have this passion for making this happen, but I can't be the person who's pulling all the strings. I need to get the smart people to the table to help me make it happen,” Hindin said. “Andrew and Caleb are among the first who came and sat with me and helped me carve a path that feels like it's going to come to fruition.”


Andrew Park is associate dean for communications, marketing, and events at Duke Law. Reach him at