Hamptons Widows Find Support With The W Connection

WITTEN BY: Alyssa Melillo

February 9 marked 10 years since Water Mill resident Diane Segreti’s husband, John, died of a pulmonary embolism.January marked five years since Pam Keating’s husband, William, died after suffering a heart attack at their home in Sag Harbor.

Both women had delayed their grieving. Ms. Segreti focused on her then-19-year-old son, Eric, and her elderly in-laws. Ms. Keating channeled her energy into planning, and eventually hosting, her then-27-year-old daughter Shea’s wedding. She was also looking out for her then-22-year-old son, Liam.

It wasn’t until they each discovered the W Connection that they found comfort in moving forward with their lives.

The W Connection, a national not-for-profit organization, supports widows of all ages through education, encouragement and empowerment. With an annual $40 membership, a widow has access to not only monthly meetings with other widows in her community, but also a peer mentoring program and a variety of resources to help her live her day-to-day life in the wake of her spouse’s death, with as little interruption as possible.

“It’s finding our new normal,”

said Ms. Keating, who serves as leader of the group’s Hamptons chapter.

“We’re reinventing ourselves—and doing a good job of it.”

The W Connection started in 2009 when founders Ellen Kamp and Dawn Nargi lost their husbands within 18 months of each other—Ms. Kamp’s husband, Eric, suffered a massive heart attack in 2006, and Ms. Nargi’s husband, Norman Ferren, died of cancer in 2007. Both women were working at Morgan Stanley in Manhattan, where Ms. Kamp was professionally mentoring Ms. Nargi.

The mentorship became personal when Ms. Nargi’s husband died, as Ms. Kamp had already experienced the same loss. Shortly into that new bond, an idea came to their minds.

“We realized early on that … we wanted to offer something to the widowed community that did not exist,” said Ms. Kamp, who lives in Sea Cliff. “It’s really important for me that people do not think of us as a bereavement organization. It’s really about regaining [a woman’s] identity, feeling empowered again, and feeling energized to really figure out this new chapter of their lives.”

It was with that thought that the first chapter of the W Connection, located on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, was born. Soon after came other nearby chapters on the Upper East Side and in Nassau County, Riverhead, and the Hamptons, as well as… READ THE FULL ARTICLE >