From the ashes of tragedy, a long tradition of care has been established in Sheffield.
Kim Adams, Ruth M. Smith Center executive director, said the center will hold a 90th anniversary celebration. An open house will take place from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the center located on Main Street in Sheffield.
Ruth Margaret Smith is the center's namesake and was born in 1910 to Carrie and Charles Smith. When she was only 8, Adams said she died from rheumatic fever.
Times Observer photo by Colin Kyler
Left to right are some of the residents of the Ruth M. Smith Center: Amy Peterson, Emily Mull and Edith Yenter.
"She was their only child," Adams said. "They became distraught."
After moving to Warren, Adams said the Smiths left their mansion to the United Methodist Women of Pennsylvania. It was designated for the care of women, children and elderly.
At that point, Adams said a huge foundation was established for an orphanage which housed around 50 children at a time. Over the years, hundreds of them grew up there.
However, that orphanage burned down. In the late 1960s, Adams said orphanages were becoming obsolete as society put more emphasis on foster care.
A behavioral center was created in 1972 for children, adolescents and teens. That method also fell out of fashion, Adams said, and states started cutting funding and placing children out into communities.
Now, Adams said, that brick building serves elderly and disabled adults. In the basement, it has a day care center which has operated for years.
On the center's board of directors, half of members come from the National Mission of the United Methodist Women. The remaining half of board members come from the community, Adams said, and include the parents and family members of those who benefit from the center's work.