From desperation to helping hand, Joe Lordi receives McGuffey Pioneer Award


Joe Lordi founded the Mahoning Valley’s first food bank because he wanted to help others facing the same financial challenges that plagued him when he lost his job.

The William Holmes McGuffey Historical Society awarded Lordi of Boardman its 2016 Pioneer Award on Friday in a program at William Holmes McGuffey Elementary School. Lordi founded Gleaners Food Bank and Youngstown Community Food Center in 1983.

“I lost my job in 1981, and by ’82, I tried part-time jobs,” Lordi said.

But he wasn’t able to make ends meet.

“The electricity got shut off. The water got shut off,” Lordi said.

It strained his marriage.

He couldn’t get public assistance because officials told him his 1978 car was worth too much.

Before being laid off, he worked for KMart Foods.

He decided he wanted to help others, and he wrote to several area individuals and businesses, seeking help to begin a food bank.

Eventually though, he received a registered letter, informing him that the bank was foreclosing on his home. He cried, asking God to help and promising to change his life.

He got a call a few days later from businessman J.J. Cafaro, who offered him a building for his food bank. Lordi told the businessman of his financial difficulties, and Cafaro helped.

Lordi prayed again, thanking God for his help.

“From there, things started to change,” he said.

Read more of his story in Saturday's Vindicator or on