As the president and CEO of the Friends of the Poor, Meghan Loftus lives to make the lives of others better in the one precious life she has been given to do it in.
The mission of the organization is to ease the burden of living in poverty and enhance the quality of life for all who live in low- to moderate-income communities in Lackawanna County. “We do this by offering emergency assistance in the form of food, clothing, household items, furniture, water utility assistance, and a men’s workwear program,” explains the young woman.
Loftus oversees 17 food pantries throughout Lackawanna County, serving an average of 6,282 individuals per month across the site, as well as a large-scale, community-wide food distribution three times a year for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.
While she continues to wear many hats over the years, much of her days are spent at her office working on development, creating community partnerships, managing staff and volunteers, and generally guiding the agency’s fulfillment of the mission and core values.
Loftus graduated from Dunmore High School and the University of Scranton earning an undergraduate degree in political science and philosophy, with a minor in history and concentration in women’s studies. Having studied abroad in Rwanda and Mexico, she experienced poverty firsthand. “I came home, took my LSATs, and continued toward my original goal of becoming a lawyer. My gut kept telling me that the law was not my calling, and I ended up deciding to take a year off,” she admits.
Eventually Loftus decided to go to Marywood University for her master in public administration and found employment in community development at the NEPA Alliance. She soon found her way to what she believes to be her true calling at FOTP as the first paid staff member in 2017. “I knew I had some big sneakers to fill. But it felt right,” she added.
Having had many mentors throughout her life including her parents and professors in college, currently, her mentor of reliance has been Sr. Ann. “Having her to guide me throughout those early years, and still having her in my life every day as we navigate this growth and constant change, is invaluable. In addition, she is kind, calm, wise, and forgiving. She is the greatest gift I received by far,” she noted.
In addition to her family and friends she is forever grateful also to her coworkers, volunteers at FOTP, the congregation, and so many others to which none of the things others see as accomplishments or success would be possible.
She and her husband, Tom, have a three-year-old son named Wyatt and two dogs, Winston and Ellie. The couple is grateful to the extensive support system they have in their lives. In addition, her best friend, Julianna, has been her rock and biggest cheerleader for much of her life.
She has been honored as the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine Community Wellbeing Honoree; the Scranton Chamber of Commerce SAGE People’s Choice Award; and as well as many awards and recognitions prior to her current employment.
Loftus is on the sponsorship committee of Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary; a member of the Lackawanna County Housing Coalition, formerly vice-chair and chair; executive committee member of the Lackawanna County Food Policy Council; and member of the American Society for Public Administration.
She was named the Times Tribune Northeast and won the Walton medal for excellence at Marywood University in public administration.