WARREN — Retired Trumbull County Probate Judge Thomas Swift remembers his late son Ethan as a champion of the underprivileged.
“He would always go out of his way for those kids who grew up with hardly anything. I remember him taking some of the disabled kids to ballgames in Cleveland and Pittsburgh,” Swift said about his son, who passed away in 2004. “He had such a positive outlook on life.”
Swift wanted to honor his son’s actions by donating to the refurbishing of the children’s center at Valley Counseling Services on Mahoning Avenue NW.
“Actually the project was begun by my wife Mary and the Junior Women’s League as a Make a Difference Day project last fall,” Swift said.
Workers, including volunteers from the Warren Junior Women’s League, replaced flooring and painted walls in the waiting room area, the restrooms and the therapeutic room, where child patients can unwind, Mary Swift said.
Make A Difference Day is an annual community work day that salutes area volunteers. It is sponsored by the Tribune Chronicle.
The total cost of the project was approximately $20,000, with all of it coming out of the Ethan Swift Memorial Fund, according to Mary Swift.
“The cost would have been higher if it wasn’t for all of the volunteer work,” she said.
Among those who helped complete the project were Renee Maiorca, Joseph Landis, Ed Bellino and Richard Dascenzo Jr., who helped lay flooring and other remodeling work.
“The condition of the place had deteriorated so we decided to chip in and help,” said Mary Swift, who brought in her husband, who wanted to honor Ethan.
Ethan Swift was a graduate of Mineral Ridge High School and Hiram College. At the time of his death at age 30, Ethan was an account specialist at the Cadle Company in Newton Falls.
“He loved all kinds of sports and I remember riding bicycles together in the Outspoken Wheel Club. He just was a normal kid who had a heart for the unfortunate,” Judge Swift said.
The biking / walking trail in Swift Park in Braceville is also named after Ethan.
The remodeled children’s therapeutic room at Valley Counseling includes an entire wall that is a blackboard, with other items like writing easels that are conducive for educational activities.
“In life we take so many things for granted and we especially don’t appreciate the struggles of those youths who don’t grow up with things like books, paper and crayons,” said the former judge, who said he now keeps busy by filling in on the bench at courts around the Mahoning Valley. “I remember one lad who was especially thrilled when he asked if he could take a book home with him, and I said of course.”
Jody Klase, executive director of Valley Counseling, appreciated the help of the volunteers and said the remodeled facility will help in the treatment of some 3,300 children who visit there.
“We feel that we are a crucial piece in the fight against drugs,” said Klase, noting that many of her children are in the formative ages of 3 to 5 years old. “They are seeing things and not knowing of anything else.”
A final piece of the project is at the rear of the Valley Counseling property where a vegetable garden is being planted.
“We would like to thank Colonial Gardens for their donations and work,” Mary Swift said.