Damon D'Amico's parents split up when he and his brother were teenagers. It was only then, at the age of 46, that his mother, Maureen D'Amico, decided to go to college.
"She chose HCC because of the cost and the proximity," said D'Amico. "She had two teenage boys, and, looking back now, I realize how difficult it must have been for her, especially coming up with the funding to pay for school."
As a tribute to his mother, on the one-year anniversary of her death, D'Amico and his wife, Maria, decided to donate $25,000 to the HCC Foundation to endow a memorial scholarship in her name.
The Maureen D'Amico Memorial Scholarship will be awarded to an HCC student with at least a GPA of 3.0, with preference given to a single, separated or divorced mother who is enrolled in an HCC business program.
"My wife and I thought, what a great way to honor her and provide an opportunity for someone who comes from a similar background and provide the means for them to take advantage of what my mom was able to take advantage of," said D'Amico, who now lives in East Longmeadow."The important thing is to garner support for HCC and inspire people to start a chain of events that will change their lives and, like my mom did for me, change their children's lives."
Maureen D'Amico studied business at HCC with a concentration in accounting. After that, she went on to major in accounting at Westfield State. "HCC was a springboard for her," said her son, who is owner and founder of Alden Medical, a medical device manufacturing company in West Springfield. "She was very involved with the school and took advantage of everything HCC had to offer. The toughest part for her was finding the money to pay for school and to maintain a house with two teenage boys in it."
After Westfield, D'Amico said his mother worked for the Massachusetts Dept. of Revenue in Charlestown, for 15 years until she retired.
"This scholarship is great for single mothers and working mothers trying to go back to school," said Keith McKittrick, HCC's director of development.
D'Amico said it was important to him that the scholarship also recognize a student who studies business. Like his mother, D'Amico also earned a degree in accounting, his at Western New England College. "I see business as a means of financial independence," he said. "We want to encourage people to study business and hopefully get out and start something."
For more information on this and other scholarships, or to make a donation yourself, please visit the HCC Foundation.
Photos: (Left) The D'Amico family of East Longmeadow presents an endowment check to Erica Broman, vice president of HCC Institutional Development. From left, Meaghan D'Amico, 18; Damon D'Amico Jr., 14; Maria D'Amico; Erica Broman; Damon D'Amico; and Joseph D'Amico. (Right) Maureen D'Amico, shortly before her death on Jan. 7, 2011.