Share his piece of bread
Throughout her long life, Gemma E. Moran remained focused on her belief that no child should go hungry. Indeed, his work in southeast Connecticut has helped ensure that no resident, regardless of age, goes hungry.
“Help those in need,” Moran told a Day reporter during an interview for an article published in April. “Don’t sit around doing nothing. … Do all the good you can, then forget about it.
The words were typical Moran. She dedicated her life to serving others, but shrank herself from the spotlight.
Moran died earlier this month aged 99 at Groton Regency. His death leaves a huge void in southeastern Connecticut. “Heaven has gained another angel,” wrote a commenter in response to The Day’s article announcing his death.
Through her determination and dedication, Moran almost single-handedly changed the way food is distributed to the needy in Southeast Connecticut. She was instrumental in establishing the largest food distribution center in the region, a center which was later named in her honor as the Gemma Moran United Way Labor Food Center in New London.
The food center serves 20,000 people locally each month. Each year, it provides some 1.8 million meals. Launched in 1988, the Food Center now has 68 member agencies feeding those in need.
Moran has always sympathized with those without material wealth. She grew up as the youngest of 14 children in Everett, Massachusetts. His parents emigrated from Italy. Before she was a teenager, she was forced to work in a factory to help support her family.
However, she recently recalled that despite the deprivations within her own family, she also always shared what she had. “The girl next door never got anything,” she recalled of a neighbor she grew up with. “I gave him my piece of bread. I always gave everything I had.
When Moran was still living in Massachusetts, she developed the concept of having unions partner with the more business-oriented United Way in an effort to serve the community. When her husband found a job with Electric Boat and the family moved to southeast Connecticut in 1970, she worked to replicate this partnership model locally.
While food was first distributed from a barn on Thames Street in Groton and stored in a former Norwich State Hospital building, Moran was then integral to the creation of the New London centre.
Over the years, the center has been supported by the two casinos, many unions, the postal service, supermarket chains and many businesses in the area.
While Moran recently said she regretted the decision to name the food distribution center after her, chances are no one who knew her, worked with her, and saw her tireless dedication in action would agree with that sentiment. In fact, having her name on the center she helped establish seems a modest gesture, indeed, considering her overall contributions to the region’s less fortunate.
“The key to giving is to live,” she recently told a Day reporter. “The key to life is to give.”
Moran never stopped giving back. The entire southeastern Connecticut community owes him a debt of gratitude. She will be deeply missed.
Day’s editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and meets weekly to formulate editorial views. It is composed of the president and the editor Timothy Dwyereditor-in-chief Izaskun E. Larrañetaeditor Erica Moserretired editor Tim Cotter and retired associate editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editor of the editorial page are responsible for the development of editorial notices. The board operates independently of Day’s newsroom.