The Joy of Giving

Zakrey, a student in OCC’s College for Living program

It’s better to give than to receive during the holiday season. The actions of a kind-hearted student are proof of that.

Earlier this month OCC’s chapter of the American Association of Women in Community Colleges (AAWCC) collected cold-weather items for those at the Salvation Army Women’s Shelter in Syracuse. The generosity of the entire campus community resulted in a carload of warm pajamas, hats, mittens, socks and blankets for shelter residents.

The spirit of giving was exemplified by Zakrey, a student in OCC’s College for Living program which serves adult students with developmental disabilities. Part of the students’ program includes earning funds and then taking trips to area stores to help grow their independence, learn practical skills and interact with others in the community.

College for Living students prepared for a trip to shopping mall Destiny USA to buy gifts for their families and to possibly get something special for themselves. The effort included researching the stores in advance, picking out what they wanted to buy, and figuring out how much money they would have to spend on each item and at each store.

Upon returning from their shopping trip the students proudly displayed their purchases.  Zakrey gave his bag to Amy Mech, the Director of College for Living.  When Amy looked inside, she saw that the bag was stuffed with mittens, winter hats and warm socks.  Zakrey said to Amy, “For the ladies.” Zakrey had noticed a flyer on a bulletin board for the Salvation Army drive. Instead of using the money he had earned for himself, he bought gifts for the women at the shelter.

Thank you to Zakery for reminding us all of the true meaning of the holidays!

Lea Frocione


Lea Frocione’s desire to become a nurse is rooted in her experiences as a caregiver. The 2003 graduate of Syracuse’s Nottingham High School spent a significant portion of her teenage years helping care for two grandparents stricken with Alzheimer’s Disease. “The home health aides who would help us told me more than once that I should pursue a nursing degree.”

Frocione worked as a Certified Nurse Assistant for four years, then began working toward a degree. In the fall of 2012 she enrolled at OCC and two years later was accepted into the Nursing program. Frocione is on track to graduate in May 2016. Her goal is to transfer to SUNY Upstate Medical University, earn a bachelor’s degree and become a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner.

While taking classes full-time and doing well enough to be a member of Phi Theta Kappa, OCC’s student honor society, Frocione is also working at the Salvation Army Women’s Shelter where she helps people struggling with mental health issues. She’s also a mother of three and is constantly on the go. How does she do it all? “I am very organized. I have a book I always carry with me which has all of our families appointments and schedules written down, and we have a dry erase board at home we have everything written on as well.”