Neighbors call him a model St. Louisan who tirelessly advocates for a safer community, so when he became the victim of a crime, they wanted to find a way to help.
Mark Swain serves the president of the Mount Pleasant Neighborhood Association in south St. Louis. The 65-year old has lived in the area for decades and served in several community leadership roles.
He is also a local artist, well known for painting several of the St. Louis 250 birthday celebration cakes located around the city.
“I love St. Louis. I love my community,” Swain said Wednesday night, as he prepared for a neighborhood Christmas party.
A few weeks ago, Swain fell victim to the same kind of crime he works so hard to prevent.
In early October he took his two dogs, a Golden Retriever named Cheyenne and a Pomeranian named Kirby, to Lyon Park in south St. Louis.
“I had just gotten to the park, and two guys drove up and jumped out of a car and were going after my Pomeranian,” he said.
Swain said as he and his larger dog tried to help, the alleged dog-snatchers attacked them both. He said they knocked him to the ground.
“They punched me in the face twice. I have cuts. I don’t know if they had a knife or whatever,” Swain said. “It was very short and sweet put they did a lot of damage.”
Swain and his dogs are still recovering, but will be ok. He sustained major dental damage and lost a few teeth after the attack. He didn’t tell many people about what happened, and didn’t file a police report because he felt he didn’t have enough information to share about the suspects.
Several weeks later, one of his friends learned about what happened.
“Everybody in Dutchtown knows Mark Swain for all the work he’s done in the neighborhood,” said Lucky Hannegan, who runs Twice Blessed Resale shop in the neighborhood. When Hannegan and her husband heard about the attack, they decided to set up a GoFundMe page to help Swain pay for the dental expenses.
She said they had to convince Swain to accept the help.
“When he was a victim of crime, it’s time to rally around him to give him support so he can continue to fight the crime here in our neighborhood,” she said. “He never asked for any help himself, and that’s why we stepped up to help him out.”
The fundraising effort already passed $3,500.
Swain was touched by the effort.
“I’ve never asked for help. but it was very nice of her,” he said.
Despite falling victim to a crime, Swain said he remains committed to helping his neighborhood.
“I refuse to live in fear. I love the community too much and I’m not going to run,” he said. “I am truly invested in the community.”
ClearChoice Dental Implant Center met with Mark on Tuesday and will replace all of his teeth with dental implants.