JULIE LANE FILE PHOTO
Alison Hegeman of Greenport, shown here being honored by Peconic Community Council in 2007, has been inducted into the Suffolk County Women’s Hall of Fame.
Two North Fork women are among 29 recently honored by County Executive Steve Levy as inductees into the Suffolk County Women’s Hall of Fame.
Alison Hegeman, 94, of Greenport and Miriam Spaier, 59, of Riverhead had their names and pictures added to the Wall of Fame at the county’s H. Lee Dennison Building in Hauppauge.
Started in 1994, “Suffolk’s Women’s Hall of Fame honors the best of the best, outstanding women who have selflessly devoted their energies and talents to the advancement and well-being of women in the county,” Mr. Levy said in honoring the inductees at a July 12 ceremony in Hauppauge. They pour “their time, talents and hearts into that effort, sometimes at great personal sacrifice. These Hall of Famers are the true pillars of our community and this Wall of Fame will serve as a tribute to them,” he said.
Ms. Hegeman has been a longtime community activist currently devoted to Community Action Southold Town and Maureen’s Haven. Both organizations serve the area’s neediest people. CAST provides food, clothing, computer training and assistance with heating, housing and other bills. Maureen’s Haven, in conjunction with area churches, provides overnight accommodations and meals for homeless people.
Ms. Hegeman has already written two self-published books about her life and experiences and sold them to support Maureen’s Haven. Her third book, appropriately titled “Act Three,” will be published soon. Proceeds from its sale will benefit both organizations.
Recent illness kept Ms. Hegeman from attending the ceremonies with Mr. Levy, she said. In 2007, the Riverhead-based Peconic Community Council honored Ms. Hegeman for her contributions to Maureen’s Haven.
“I was so disappointed not to be able to go to the ceremony,” she said in a brief phone interview, adding that she was delighted to be recognized.
Ms. Spaier is an AIDS activist who was diagnosed as HIV positive in 1991. She was previously inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame in 2008 and is a repeat selectee this year.
She has overcome her own struggles with drug addiction and an abusive relationship with a man who infected her with the HIV virus. Following the death of her mother and loss of a job on Wall Street, she suffered the worst blow, when Child Protective Services took away her daughter, Marcy. That’s when she knew she had to turn her life around.
She moved to Riverhead in 1993 to be close to her daughter, who was in foster care, and began researching how she could regain custody. As she started dealing with her health problems and sharing her story with others, she evolved into an AIDS activist.
She has spoken to school groups, at rehabilitation centers and hospitals and, in 2006, at the World AIDS Day Conference in Southampton.
Ms. Spaier could not be reached for comment.