It's hard to find a 24-year-old who is as motivated and big-hearted as Erica Zigon.
Zigon, who affectionately goes by "Zigs," is originally from Long Island, N.Y. and is a graduate of Babylon High School. It was a word-of-mouth reference that ultimately led her toward Saint Leo University for her higher education.
Flocking to Saint Leo
Thanks to a good friend, Zigon learned about Saint Leo and decided to enroll with the university that is situated nearly 1,000 miles away from her hometown.
"My best friend's brother played lacrosse at Saint Leo, and his dad told me I'd be a good fit there," she recalls. "I contacted the women's lacrosse coach, and I was offered a spot on the team almost right away."
Her four-year tenure at the university was from 2012 through 2016. She earned a bachelor's in multimedia management with a business focus.
"I've always loved making videos, and I'm also a musician, so I thought studying audio and visual concepts and mixing these with business made for an interesting degree option," she says.
While earning her degree, she lived on campus for three years. This allowed her to get involved in activities outside of her academic life. She was a member of the Gamma Epsilon sorority, the Student Senate and sang in the long-running Saint Leo band, Timewarp, along with student choruses.
In her mind, integrity is the most important core value she has carried with her since departing from Saint Leo.
"I would say having integrity has made me the human being I am today," she confides.
Zigon got into lacrosse at age seven and played defense for three and a half years on the women's lacrosse team at Saint Leo.
"As soon as I got on campus, I had 30 new friends right on my team," she fondly recalls. "All of my best friends are from those teams. Being able to have that camaraderie with others was amazing. Whether we won or lost, we were always there for each other."
Music to Her Ears
Zigon and her 26-year-old brother, Michael, have a band called The Zigons. The group performs at various paid gigs on a regular basis around Long Island.
"I play acoustic guitar and sing," she says. "We mainly perform covers of songs, but we do have some originals. Our style is along the lines of jazz acoustic."
Working with producers, she has written some of her own music as well and is looking to release it in the near future.
"The music I've created is more pop and R&B. The first thing I do is create the beats and guitar parts. Then I use personal experiences that people can relate to in my lyrics, mainly experiences that evoke certain emotions."
Seeing the reactions of her audiences is what it's all about.
"Being on stage is a whole different ballgame," she says. "It gives me a high when I get to perform in front of others and give them a good time."
Zigon has already had the chance to experience some unique work opportunities in her young career. Right after college, she interned at Florida Keys Media where she assisted in recording commercials and helped at remote broadcasts for Sun 103.1 WFKZ-FM and Thunder Country 100.3 WCTH-FM. She later took a job overseas for a few months with a student travel company in Florence, Italy. Her current full-time employment involves working as a sales and account manager with S.K.I. Beer Corporation, a craft and import beer distributor in New York.
On top of everything else, she is taking a leadership development course with Landmark, a global education company.
A True Community Hero
Last December on a chilly day, Zigon and a friend were out walking on the streets of Manhattan.
"I said to my friend that I couldn't believe how many people we saw who were freezing and weren't wearing enough to keep them warm," she recalls. "I said we need to do something about this."
From this brief conversation, We've Got You Covered was born. The soon-to-be formal 501(c)3 nonprofit organization is designed to provide blankets, clothing, water and other useful items to the homeless and anyone in need.
"I started asking friends and family members through texting and Facebook if they had any spare blankets they'd be willing to donate. I couldn't believe the response we got, and we received a ton of blankets. We just started going up to people on the street and giving them the blankets. You could tell how much it meant to them that some random person would actually do this for them."
Her efforts have already been documented by a local TV news station. Plus, She has gotten interest from people she knows in New Jersey, Missouri, North Carolina and Florida who are eager to start similar initiatives in their local areas.
She designed t-shirts with the We've Got You Covered logo and sold them to raise money to buy more items to give out. She and her team members sometimes even give out little backpacks with notes of encouragement inside of them.
"The main idea here is to just help people and destigmatize the homeless community," she explains. "This has really turned into something much bigger than I ever thought."
A big goal of hers is to get younger individuals engaged with the concepts behind the organization.
"I want to use social media to engage with younger people. Lots of younger people aren't present and have no idea what's happening around them. They are constantly looking down at their phones. I want to help get them to look up and actually talk to people around them. I see a lot of the 'me' mentality out there. It's time for people to start being human again and paying attention to the world around them."
Photo credit: The photographs included in this blog article were provided by Erica Zigon and are used with permission.