A passionate community advocate for Filipino Americans has died at the age of 48 after testing positive for COVID-19, and the Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization he led announced Tuesday that a new business center in Historic Filipinotown will be named in his honor.
The Board of Directors of Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA), where John Eric Swing was executive director, vowed to carry on his legacy.
“The entire board and staff of Search to Involve Pilipino Americans mourn the loss of our beloved leader, colleague and friend John Swing. John is known throughout the community for his dedicated, compassionate service in Historic Filipinotown, and we are proud of his latest achievement in being appointed our executive director,” the board’s statement read. “John was an extraordinarily kind and selfless human being, and we will carry on his legacy of community service and empowerment.”
Swing had worked at SIPA since 2015, leading the nonprofit organization’s small business counseling services and programming. He had been promoted to executive director by a unanimous vote of the board earlier this year, after managing SIPA’s entrepreneurship program and multiple volunteer service projects.
In mid-June, Swing tested positive for COVID-19 and was admitted to Fountain Valley Regional Hospital & Medical Center due to several complications. Within a week of the test, he was in grave condition, and he died on Sunday night, according to a post on a GoFundMe donation page created by his sister, Karen Bromley, to solicit support for Swing’s wife and children.
Bromley thanked those who shared memories and photos of her big brother, nicknamed Kuya. She said his wife, Ellen, is recovering from coronavirus symptoms at home in Westminster.
“Kuya’s spirit is so big and warm, I know he will continue to live in each and every one of us,” Bromley wrote. “He is the most generous person I know and genuinely cared for anyone he met. He knew you, even if you met for only 5 minutes 30 years ago .. He made everyone feel welcome, at home, and at ease.”
Under Swing’s leadership, SIPA staff had migrated the nonprofit’s community services, support services and educational programs online to provide ongoing, uninterrupted assistance for small businesses, youth and families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In April, Swing led a food delivery project for seniors and minority families in Historic Filipinotown with support from the office of state Sen. Ling Ling Chang — earning the pair Senate recognition as “Unsung Heroes of Southern California.”
Community advocates mourned his loss.
“We are devastated by the passing of our friend and colleague, John Swing. John loved his family, first and foremost. He also cared deeply for his extended family – SIPA, the HiFi neighborhood, the greater L.A. Pilipino community, and the many entrepreneurs that he worked with, first as SIPA’s business counselor and most recently as its executive director,” said Ron Fong, executive director of the Asian Pacific Island Small Business Program. “His leadership and compassion will be missed.”
A Marine Corps veteran, Swing had a long history of nonprofit service. He was appointed business director for the Festival of Philippine Arts & Culture and led fund development and operational management for Filipino American Services Group Inc., as well as the Asian Pacific Health Foundation and Hep B Free San Diego. He served on the board for the Coalition of Filipino American Chambers of Commerce and My New Hope Foundation.
In an unreleased announcement about his executive appointment, Swing said he was “honored to be able to support, advocate and program for the needs of the greater Filipino American community. While SIPA is centered on diversity and culture, we also work in the culture of changing all lives for the better. I invite everyone to join us in this effort as we build a stronger community in Historic Filipinotown and beyond.”
Based on a vote of the board Monday, SIPA’s future small business center will be named in Swing’s honor, tentatively as the John Eric Swing Small Business Center. The space will be a part of SIPA’s soon-to-be-redesigned headquarters in a mixed-use redevelopment project at 3200 W. Temple St. in Historic Filipinotown.
His sister asked those who knew Swing to honor him by continuing his life’s mission to build community. She said the family was devastated not to be able to visit Swing in the hospital, add hopes to host a memorial at some point in the future when it is safe to gather again.
The link at www.gofundme.com/f/john-eric039s-fight-with-covid remains active for donations for his family to cover medical bills, rent and other basic needs, as well as a college fund. As of Tuesday afternoon, $49,222 had been raised, surpassing the $20,000 goal.
In addition to his wife and sister, who lives in Oregon, Swing is survived by four children, Zachary, Joshua, Chloe and Mackenzie; two stepchildren, Sasha and Niko; his parents, who live in Murrieta; and brother PJ, who lives in Costa Rica.
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