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our programs and services

Financial Support

Breaking Barriers

Breaking Barriers

Children’s Programs

Comfort Program

Who We Serve

We keep our service area limited so that we can provide individualized, hands-on support to families living with cancer so that they feel the love and support of BRF and the entire community that supports us. View our list of service areas here.

check if we serve your area:

Patient’s Zip Code


Black or African American
Native American

Counties Served

Low income families
Senior Citizens


At this most difficult time of my life, you have brought me an array of sunshine. Your kindness goes unmeasured. Thank you.

– Geoffrey

Thank you for being an amazing partner in caring for our patients. BRF is a real game-changer in the cancer support space and I’ll be excited to see how it continues to evolve and shape the Philly region’s health systems.

– Erin, social worker

I felt grateful that someone could provide a glimmer of hope to my two grandchildren during a dark time in our lives. Between COVID and my diagnosis, the kids and I felt isolated. The fact that BRF had generous volunteers to go out and shop for us was very uplifting and heartwarming.

– Elizabeth, colon cancer

I thank you so much for what you have blessed my family with. We are so thankful. I truly appreciate you blessing my children with Easter baskets. It’s one less stressor. I am so thankful for your help.

– Miranda, Hodgkins lymphoma, mom of four children

I cannot tell you how much your letter meant to me at that particular moment. I can’t even express how much it meant and means to me that anybody would have the heart to reach out like that. it was really wonderful. Thank you so much.

– Roberta

Please let the Breathing Room Foundation know we are so grateful for picking our family during this difficult time. We appreciate your foundation and all the thoughtful things they have done for our family and are humbled by your kindness.

– Dedra, Ronald, and Andrew

Our History

Our Partners

We are fortunate to have incredibly generous corporate sponsors and partners who continue to make our mission a reality, as well as allow both our fundraising events and outreach programs to flourish. Along with our volunteers, they are the driving force behind our work.

25th Anniversary Community Partners

Difference Makers

Interested in getting your organization involved?
Click here to reach out.

Foundation Staff

Mary Ellen Fitzgerald


Mary Ellen Fitzgerald is the Director of the Breathing Room Foundation. She has been involved with the foundation since its inception in 1997, first as a founding member of the board of directors and she currently holds the position of Executive Director.

Just three months before her sister Diane Fitzgerald lost her battle against breast cancer, she and her husband Bernie asked some of their closest friends and family members to help them make their vision (BRF) come to fruition.

Mary Ellen says, “I am honored to be able to help carry out my sister’s legacy. I could not be more proud of the work of the Breathing Room Foundation and am grateful every day for having the opportunity to be a part of it. The words of gratitude that I hear from the families that we serve are a true testament to the life that my sister lived. She lived her life to serve others and with BRF she continues to do that even after her passing.”

Eileen Carissimi

Eileen Carissimi

Volunteer Coordinator

Eileen Carissimi is the Volunteer Coordinator of the Breathing Room Foundation. She is an irreplaceable piece of the puzzle that makes this foundation successful. She is responsible for matching volunteers to the needs of the families that are served by BRF. Eileen has great compassion for those in need, and the desire to make a difference. She knows firsthand the impact that a cancer diagnosis has on a family, so she can relate to the emotional and physical needs that our families are faced with on a daily basis. Eileen works to provide them with exactly what is needed at any particular time.

No one thinks more highly of Eileen than the foundation’s Executive Director, Mary Ellen Fitzgerald. She states, “Eileen has such a strong passion for the mission and is able to relay that to others so that they become immediately “hooked” and committed to making an impact on the families that we serve. The growth in the number of volunteers working with the organization is a true testament to Eileen’s hard work and dedication.

Aginah Dingle

Aginah Dingle

Office Administrator

Aginah joined BRF in 2023 with a background in Healthcare Management. She brings a passion for connecting people, serving the community, and
working in a team environment. Aginah’s personal experience with cancer in her own family inspires her work everyday and keeps her motivated providing support to families in need. Aginah’s home life managing five kids (and a bonus kid!) helps to keep her organized at home and in the office. She loves that working at BRF gives her a chance to still give back in a focused and tangible sense while connecting with families.

Colleen Knoble

Director of Development

Colleen Knoble is the newest member of our team, joining the Breathing Room in March of 2022 as our Director of Development. Colleen has been an active participant in the programs at BRF for many years, and is excited to join the team in a professional capacity.

Colleen is a natural “people person” who is passionate about making a difference in her community. She is thrilled to combine that passion with her experience in sales and business development to help usher in the next 25 years of success for the Breathing Room Foundation.

Colleen lives in Elkins Park with her husband and 2 children. She loves to garden and thrift shop for vintage treasures. Colleen also is very active in local kids sports organizations, and enjoys coaching local soccer and softball teams.

Jen Schiffelbein

Jen Schiffelbein

Director of Marketing

Jen brings nearly two decades of nonprofit management experience to BRF. Combining creativity and marketing cohesively for Breathing Room allows her to share the stories and work of this tremendous organization. Her passion for highlighting the beautiful experiences that BRF provides to recipients, volunteers, and donors represents the shared community effort of BRF and our supporters.

Tricia Tysiak

Transportation Coordinator

Tricia joined BRF in 2022 to sustain and advance the Breaking Barriers Program. Tricia was hired to coordinate services. Tricia was an oncology nurse for over 30 years and brings an unmatched depth of knowledge to conversations about recipients needs and community resources.

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