For nearly three decades, Gary Giordano has served the neighborhoods of Community Board 5 (CB 5) — Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth and Middle Village — as district manager, helping to better the communities through numerous projects and initiatives.
Now he will be honored for his service by being inducted in the Christ the King (CTK) High School Hall of Fame.
On Saturday, May 20, at 7 p.m., at the Catholic high school located at 68-02 Metropolitan Ave., Giordano will join five others as they are forever enshrined at Christ the King for embodying the ideals, principles and mission of the school.
Giordano’s love and dedication to the community run deeper than just an appointed position on the community board. He grew up in the neighborhoods he now serves, moving to Maspeth when he was 2 years old. He attended Our Lady of Hope in Middle Village, served as an altar boy, and played basketball and baseball for the school.
When it came time to go to high school, Giordano attended St. Francis Preparatory — at the behest of his father — when it was located in Brooklyn, but if it was up to him, he would have went to Christ the King.
“My father wanted me to go to Prep,” Giordano said. “I would have liked to go to Christ the King. I could walk there, I could walk home. It was nearby. But when you’re in the eighth grade, you don’t haggle with your father over too many things.”
When Giordano reached his 20s, he moved into his own apartment in Ridgewood. Giordano’s time in Ridgewood helped shape his world view and spur him into community activism.
“I was living in Ridgewood on Woodward [Avenue] when all those fires were occurring in Bushwick,” he said. “It was scary, for lack of a better term, because numerous times a week you would hear those fire engines not that many blocks away, you smell the smoke from the buildings. So that kind of woke me up. Living in Ridgewood just gave me a whole broader view of life and the world, and I would credit that as much, or more, than anything for me getting involved to the degree that I did in the neighborhood.”
Giordano quickly joined the former Onderdonk Civic Organization and started working with them in 1979. He then was appointed to Community Board 5 as a member on Jan. 1, 1981, and was soon the chair of the Youth Services Committee, and by the end of 1983, he also served as the chair of the board’s Health Committee. At the same time he was asked to be the treasure for the Greater Ridgewood Youth Council (GRYC).
His main focus during that time had been to clean up the rampant drug sales and use at the Grover Cleveland High School Athletic Field. In order to do that, he helped create the Grover Cleveland Athletic Fields Association.
“We came together to try to get grant money to be able to pay the opening fees to rent Grover Cleveland Athletic Field,” Giordano explained. “At that time, the high school wasn’t using it. It wasn’t in good enough condition … we wanted to get that field used by teams — preferably locally — and we were going to use that as a way to clean up the angel dust dealing activity there. That was our plan.”
Eventually cops made a major bust at the park and arrested around 10 individuals for dealing at the park. This finally ended the drug dealing at the park and fully return it to the kids.
“The key to our success was Bobby Kane,” Giordano said. “Bob Kane was the president of the Queens Junior Baseball Alliance and he was part of our Grover Cleveland Athletic Fields Association. He arranged through his league to have games on that field every Saturday and Sunday from 9 [a.m.] to 3 [p.m.]”
In 1985, Giordano became executive director of the GRYC. In his new position Giordano continued helping the youth of the neighborhood by establishing an after-school tutoring program for nearly 250 students who were not reading at grade level.
Then in 1989, Giordano applied for and was selected to become the district manager of CB 5. As district manager, Giordano focused on cleaning up the illegal dumping in the neighborhoods.
Accompanying Giordano in the 2017 Hall of Fame class are former Vice Chairman of the CTK Board of Trustees Thomas V. Ognibene (posthumously); alumna Sharon Manning Beverly, class of 1972; alumna Maureen Murphy Blaine, class of 1967; alumnus Charles D’Ambra (posthumously), class of 1994 and former faculty member Kathleen Travers Norman (posthumously).
“It is a great honor,” Giordano said of being inducted into the CTK Hall of Fame. “As somebody who grew up Christian, to be honored by a school called Christ the King, that’s a big deal to me. I am the district manager of a very good community board, a very good local legislature where a lot of them have been wonder, dedicated volunteer people and they’re a big part of the reason why these neighborhoods have gotten so much better.”