1376543_749909358358505_1386635456_nGaia’s Essence Women’s Wellness Conference (GEWWC) was created to empower, educate and inspire women on finding their own paths to wellness. The “Women of Honor” award was created to recognize women who exemplify leadership and promote health and wellness in their communities.

This year we have selected three amazing women in our community to be honored at our first GEWWC 2013 Women of Honor Award.

Filomena Lombardi : Humanitarian Award

081208_Lombardi_011On June 10, 2002, the neurologist said four words I will never forget, “You have Multiple Sclerosis.” My first thoughts were, “This is not happening to me. Who will raise my daughters and how am I going to be a mother? How will I continue to work and do what I love?” My world ended as I knew it.

I had heard of Multiple Sclerosis. I knew Annette Funnicello was diagnosed with MS, but I didn’t really know exactly what it was. And I also discovered I had been experiencing symptoms of MS since 1997.

The following several months, I experienced the lowest moments of my life. I remember wishing I could fast forward my life so that it could be over with. But I knew my children and my family loved and needed me. If it were not for them, I am sure I would have ended my life. But I knew I could not let them down.

I awoke one morning and it was clear that I had a choice. I could lie there and wait for all the bad possibilities to find me or I could begin living my life. And not just getting from day to day, but to live my life the best I knew how and to make every day count despite this dreadful diagnosis.

I chose the later.

I began my quest to find out everything I possibly could about this disease. Multiple Sclerosis was determined to steal my life, not through physical disability, but through fear and worry.

Through my personal research, I sought out the experts. I traveled to Europe, Canada and Naples Florida. I read many articles and books. Over the years I have spoken with hundreds of

people diagnosed with MS. I shared my knowledge and my experiences. Although this disease has no cure yet, I believe one day there will be one. Until then, we need to educate people that it is important to help yourself by doing everything you can to be healthy. …

Soh Young Lee-Segredo: Community Service

IMG_1158She is a founding member and director of the Multicultural Peace Mission Choir, Soh Young Ensemble and Soh Young and Friends. She sang National Anthems in Madison Square Garden and Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. In 2007 Soh Young Ensemble debuted Carnegie Hall Weil Recital Hall as a winner of 25th Anniversary of the Artists International Competition, grand prize winner of Korean Idol NY (sponsored by KBS from S. Korea) and grand prize winner of the National Korean Folk Art Competition with German, Italian, Russian, Cuban, and Turkish artists.

She is also an educator, community activist, humanitarian, and life long learner. She volunteers her time for the communities where she works and where she lives. She is a public school teacher and graduate of Newtown H.S., Queens College (CUNY), Bank Street College, Dowling College and St. John’s University. Soh Young gives credit for educational and performance success to her teachers in all the countries in which she lived, as well as her family members, friends and community supporters. “It took a global community to enable Soh Young to be who she is!” Soh Young is a proud Korean American woman living in NY. She lives in Freeport with husband, Gustavo E. Segredo (Su, Gun Soo, Korean name), two sons, Ujin Lee and Daniel Lee.

Zazel O’ Garra: Artistic Expression

DSC_6620Zazel-Chavah O’Garra is a dancer, actress, model, and teaching artist. A graduate of the High School of Performing Arts (New York), O’Garra attended the SUNY Empire State College and the University of Michigan where she received a Bachelor of Arts. A Presidential Arts Scholar, she performed with Mark Dendy Dance Company and Alvin Ailey II and in numerous stage productions in both the U.S. and Europe. In 2002, O’Garra was diagnosed with meningioma, a benign brain tumor which left her partially paralyzed. Since then, she has emerged as a teaching artist of dance and drama to children and adults who have mental and/or physical disabilities. Of her students, O’Garra comments that “by treating them as artists they have the ability to achieve anything.” In addition, for the past two years, O’Garra has been performing Inside/Out…voices from the disability community, a performance piece commissioned by VSA.

Congratulations to our honorees on their amazing accomplishments.


View more honorees: 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016