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Karen Mansfield/Observer-Reporter

VFI/TRPIL held its ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday. Participating, from left, are Washington County Commissioner Larry Maggi; Washington Health System CEO Brook Ward; VFI/TRPIL CEO Shona Eakin; board of directors member Bob Bock; and Jeff Kotula, president of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce.

When Shona Eakin, CEO of both Voices for Independence and Transitional Paths to Independent Living (TRPIL) was growing up, she took swimming lessons at the YWCA in Washington.

As a person with cerebral palsy, swimming in the Y’s pool provided both physical therapy and exercise.

On Friday, Eakin returned to the building at 42 W. Maiden St. – this time, for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The historic, Elizabethan-style building is now the headquarters and community center for VFI/TRPIL, which provide services to individuals with disabilities in Western Pennsylvania.

VFI/TRPIL recently completed Phase I of the renovation of the 27,000-square-foot building, constructed in 1929. That phase – which focused on renovating the lower level and front portions of the remaining floors – included the completion of a training center, offices and an internet cafe.

Eakin thanked the sponsors of the project – Columbia Gas, First Energy Foundation, Monongahela Valley Hospital, Range Resources, and Washington Health System, along with donors who contributed to the capital campaign.

Phase I of the project, which cost an estimated $4.3 million, was also funded by a combination of grants from Washington County Redevelopment Authority and Local Share Account.

Even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Eakin noted, VFI/TRPIL has continued to offer services, including peer counseling, advocacy groups and skills training, for nearly 600 people.

Phase II of the project, which will soon be underway, will include a second elevator, widened doorways, installation of carpeting and flooring specialized for wheelchairs, furniture and equipment.

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