No one supported blood and organ donations more than Joseph Acocella Jr.
So it's fitting that the community honored Acocella with a successful drive Wednesday in his memory. The event was the first of five blood and organ drives scheduled in Harrison and surrounding communities over the next two weeks.
Acocella was on the minds of many as they stopped at the in West Harrison to give blood, a cause the inspirational town clerk showed so much support for over the years.
"I just thought it would be a nice thing to do," said Edward Wall of Purchase as he prepared to give blood. "It's nice to remember him and what he did."
Acocella after a lifelong battle with spinal condition Lumbar Sacral Agenesis, as well as kidney and heart problems. One of his many passions in life was Donate Life, a non-profit group dedicated to increasing eye, organ and tissue donations nationwide.
Since his death, the Acocella family has created the Fund, which supports several of Joseph Acocella's favorite charities including Donate Life.
"He's always been a major advocate of it," Jeff Graham, co-president of the Transplant Support Organization, said while handing out pins and brochures for Donate Life. "His family is picking up where he left off, they are doing a super job."
Acocella was on the donor waiting list to receive a second new kidney at the time of his death. Graham, Helen Bellhouse and Janet Ocasio were at the Mintzer Center talking to people about the benefits of becoming an organ donor. All three said they are alive today because someone gave them the gift of life through an organ donation.
"If I hadn't gotten a transplant I wouldn't have seen my kids get married, I wouldn't be a grandmother," said Bellhouse.
The blood drives also come at a critical time for the American Red Cross. Blood levels in Westchester County are at critical levels and spring is always an important time to gather blood donations.
Both causes have been well supported in Harrison over the years and many thank Acocella for that. The community has hosted regular blood and organ drives for years and Acocella worked to spread interest and awareness.
In his memory that support continues, although without one familiar face.
"He didn't get that second transplant," said Bellhouse. "He would have been here."