Endowment honors Silverio’s hard work
By Karen A. Avitabile
Executive Editor, The Plainville Citizen
August 14, 2003
A local family foundation has made a donation in honor of one of the founders of the
Plainville Community Food Pantry.
The donation, in honor of Joseph R. Silverio, begins an endowment at the pantry.
“You are the backbone of the food pantry,” Susie Woerz, executive director of the pantry,
told Silverio recently, adding, “He’s been a big part of the growth.”
The family, which has requested anonymity, had a dual purpose in making the donation:
to honor Silverio, as well as ensure the more than 30-year-old food pantry ‘is here forever
and ever,” Woerz said. “We want it (pantry) to continue on.”
I think it’s a tremendous gift to myself and my family,” Silverio said of the endowment.
Humbled by the honor, Silverio praised other volunteers for their involvement in the
pantry. “There are other people who have done so much.”
As Silverio credited Woerz and the pantry’s Board of Directors for their diligence at the
pantry, Woerz said the community and pantry volunteers “have made us so successful.”
The food pantry has its roots in the Human Relations Council in the late 1960s. In 1972,
the pantry set up headquarters in the Congregational Church of Plainville under the
supervision of the Plainville Conference of Churches. In 1983, needing more space, the
pantry moved to the basement of Linden Street School. In 1990, the pantry moved to Our
Lady of Mercy parish hall.
After the legislature approved a grant to fund the new facility, the pantry moved to its
current location, 54 South Canal St., in 2000. Today, the pantry is an independent non-
profit corporation managed by a Board of Directors.
Having a lot of respect for people who are in need is one of the main reasons Silverio
began delivering food to families needing it. “We gathered a couple people from our
parish and they also helped. We did this for close to five years and the Human Relations
Council took over,” he said. “I have an affinity toward unfortunate people… we found
many broken families.
Silverio is credited with starting a bread distribution program many years ago.
“We have several volunteers who do this bread route weekly.” Woerz said.
“Our program, I don’t know any other program…is one of the best around.” Silverio said
of the food pantry. “I feel fantastic about the pantry and its evolution. It’s the Lord’s
work. I think it’s very, very important.”
Woerz, executive director since 1989, said the Plainville Community Food Pantry is
becoming the model in Connecticut for food pantries, adding that between 8 and 10
agencies have visited the pantry’s current headquarters.
Silverio said he is always spreading the word about the food pantry, encouraging
residents to volunteer there to help it grow. He regularly visits the pantry, Woerz said,
“making sure we are all doing what we are supposed to do. He’s part of the food pantry.”
“It’s important for clients to come in here and get a smile and they do this here,” Silverio
said, “I hope I’m a living example of what a pantry should be, by loving everyone.”
Silverio said his wife, Elinor, also called “Ellie,” has supported his involvement with the
pantry. In addition, their son, Joseph Jr. has volunteered at the pantry. “Ellie has been a
big support over the years,” Woerz said.