John: This is John Dowling I am the publisher of both Models Citizens Magazine and Long Island Journal and I have with me Joe Frazetta, an old friend from East Meadow High school…
Joe: Yes! How long has it been? 35 years? Wow! We had some great times back then.
John: I started to get to know you in Junior high school. We may have had each other in shop or gym?
Joe: We did know each other at Mc’Cleary junior high school but we took a shop class in high school and that’s when we became friends.
John: As we have reconnected on social media, I nominated you as a Model citizen because, just like when we were younger, I see you’re still a good guy. I remember doing sports together when we were younger, but because with my heart condition, I can’t do that anymore so obviously watching you run and do all these things posted online, I’m living vicariously through you. How’s life been for you since high school?
Joe: Life has been good! I am blessed to be healthy and active. After high school I started working at Marriott, first out here on Long Island and then later in NYC .I really loved living in Manhattan. I met so many interesting people and eventually I met my wife. So I’ve just been really happy.
John: How did you eventually get into the different types of fitness you’re doing now?
Joe: At first, I really focused on weight training until my late twenties. Then I found an in line skating group, which led me to speed skating. That’s when I caught the racing bug. I started taking on other aerobic sports like running, cycling, open water swimming and eventually Ironman triathlons. Running is definitely my favorite especially marathons. Right now I’m doing a combination of CrossFit and running. I actually turned my garage into a mini gym so I can keep doing my strength training.
It is my distinct honor to once again bring to you Long Island’s Model Citizens! This is Model Citizens Magazine’s Annual FASHION Issue as well as our annual announcement of the Model Citizens Man of the Year Award Recipient. I am very pleased to share that Robert Zabbia as you may have already heard is Model Citizens Magazine man of the year. In this issue, we have an exclusive interview with Robert. We also have our annual fashion issue and models Nataliya Smolyakova and Maya Frank show lead the way in this amazing pictorial about fashion. Publisher John Dowling shares his insight into the finer points of fashion and fine art photography and provides his formula and process for consistently creating fine art every time he takes out his camera. We are entering a new year and as we do so let’s pay tribute to all of our model citizens and get ready to nominate some great model citizens for 2021. As always live in Gratitude, pay it forward, and cherish your chapters of love.
While I might usually start off an issue in a new year about my new year’s resolutions, politics, COVID-19, and many other topics that the world is very passionate about (especially in light of the world we are living in now) I thought I might just kick back in this issue and chat about what I love. My passion for telling people’s stories came from my fashion and fine art photography roots. I started fashion and fitness modeling when I was just about 19 years old. My father’s cousin was a professional photographer and used me for a few shoots, soon after the photographers that he shot with from the Corbis Stock Market stock photo agency started to photograph me as well. It just came naturally like a part-time job. However, my passion was more for creating and taking photographs than modeling. I did learn a ton by modeling but fashion and fine art photography are really only as good as your imagination, and the time you are willing to spend learning how to use light. Not just to look at people but to see them, and to see into them.
John: I am John Dowling and I’m here with Joe Gannascoli. Congratulations on being nominated to Model Citizens Magazine.
Joe: Thank you. I appreciate it very much.
John: I have nominated you because first off, I’m the publisher and I can! Secondly, because I do follow you and your career and activities. We initially met at your home in 2007, right after your hip surgery, so I know you have been through some adversity yourself. I see that you are paying it forward and giving back to the community with so much of your time. Every day I see another post, another magazine article, another TV interview, of you helping and providing food for those that are in need right now.
Joe: When the pandemic first hit, I saw what was happening to a lot of these restaurants and how much they were struggling. As a former chef and restauranteur, I wanted to do something to help restaurants and frontline workers in our hospitals, nursing homes, fire and police departments, and the post office. All the people that were out there who could not stay home. I started a Go Fund Me account and from there it snowballed with word-of-mouth and people who are on all my social media, some contributed small amounts and some big, but it all makes a difference. I made it to $35,000, a little short of my goal of $50,000, but I did it for seven weeks and picked up and delivered over 100 meals. Sometimes it was breakfast from IHOP or lunch from any of the different restaurants in the neighborhood or dinner up until the late-night shifts.
John: You mentioned at the beginning of the call that a lot of restaurants are hurting right now. I happen to know a bit about the hospitality industry, and it is amazing that they are even surviving with all these limitations and the stress that puts on those businesses.
Creating a New Year’s Resolution for many is a critical part of their personal success plan. I often hear people speak about setting goals, creating plans, and most importantly making decisions about their future based upon their past ( a true reflection ). People will often ask me how to create a plan for the New Year and it is best described in the following way: Start with a quiet place. A place where you can think and reflect. It is important to know if you are contemplating business resolutions or personal resolutions.
For personal resolutions we will look at things such as relationships, health, finances, housing, children, marriage, hobbies and set goals to achieve them. It is important to evaluate where you think you currently stand ( as a number ) in each section. You should set a scale from 1-10. Where you are on the scale and what would a number 10 look like? These goals should be obtainable with a personal plan – for example: if you want to lose weight and you know 60 pounds is the goal, you need to determine if losing 60 pounds is obtainable and what steps it would take for your success. The 60 pounds would make that resolution a 10 at year’s end.
John: Once again I am here with Model Citizen, Judge, and Harley Davidson motorcycle enthusiast, Alan Schwartz. How are you, Alan?
Alan: Great, thank you John, and you?
John: I am doing well thank you. It has been a beautiful holiday season despite Covid. You and I took some terrific fashion shots this month for the January fashion issue. I dragged you out of your office and into a custom clothier on the North Shore to work with a couple of experts who really know how to style men with the right clothing. What was it like for you to do a fashion shoot?
Alan: It was fabulous, and I had an absolute blast with you, and Rob Bartol and Mark Macaluso, the owners of B2Bespoke Custom Clothier up in Glen Head. And speaking of Harley Davidson enthusiasts, Mark is also one, and we are planning on riding together with our wives this spring, so that was really networking at its finest, not to mention that I now have a new custom clothier to work with.
John: I am here with the one and only Margreit McInnis. Hey Margreit, everybody wants to know how you are doing?
Margreit: Hi John, I’m pretty good. How are you?
John: I’m good, thank you. So, I understand that you have had some recent changes take place in your life. Didn’t you reunite with a past flame?
Margreit: Yes, I did reunite with someone I dated a couple of summers ago.
John: It’s kind of a big deal, isn’t it?
Margreit: For us, yes. We are really enjoying spending time together.
John: It’s always good news when someone finds a new chapter of love or unites with an old one.
Margreit: Yes, absolutely I agree.
John: With that said, what’s been going on in your professional life?
Margreit: I have a few things going on. First, I’m continuing to work on my second book in my three-book series which is based on my great, great grandfather’s adventurous true story. I have to admit that I had horrible writers block over the summer when I was trying to get the second book started after publishing the first one in February 2020. So, it’s a little bit delayed and I’m definitely behind schedule but, happily, I broke through the tough writer’s block and so now things are flowing. I’m hoping to launch it by the end of January.
John: Now this is your novel Runaway At Sea?
John: I am here with Rob Zabbia, Model Citizen Magazine Man of the Year. Congratulations Robert.
Robert: Thank you very much. It is really an honor. There are a lot of great people involved with this publication.
John: I have to tell you that in all the years that I have been shooting I have quietly been observing you and I haven’t really seen many people do as much for charity as you do. You really are out there all the time, not only financially, but also supporting charities by being there and putting in the effort. What is it that motivated you to get involved in the community?
Robert: When I was growing up my dad was very involved. He worked hard so he couldn’t do everything, but he helped out with Scouts, with baseball, and things like that, my mom was involved with our school as well. So to see my parents always taking time to do all of that, I learned from them early on that community is important.
Then when we lost Brian, everybody wanted to send things to us because we lost our baby, but I didn’t want flowers, or food. So, we gave it some thought and then suggested that people donate to The Columbus Lodge and Sons of Italy because they have a scholarship program. We felt that was a good place for people to donate. That is pretty much where it really started, getting involved with the Columbus Lodge which is a fraternal organization that is very supportive in the community. They do a lot of really good work. Also, being involved with the Chamber of Commerce early on in my Allstate career. After that, I really wanted to step up my efforts and be more hands-on.
John: So, your parents set a great example and that was an inspiration for you. You also just mentioned losing a child, that must have been very challenging.
Robert: Our son Brian was born prematurely at just 20 weeks. There was no chance for survival and so it was a very tough time. I would not want another couple to go through it. Sometimes tragedy like that divides people, but luckily for Joey and I, we stayed strong through it all. We did have to reach out for help because we couldn’t really deal with it. We built some really great friendships through the support group we joined. Some of our closest friends are people that we know from there and still keep in touch with.
John: I am here with Robert Yeganeh who has been nominated as a Model Citizen for all you do in the philanthropic world and for paying it forward, congratulations!
Robert: Thank you John.
John: Can you tell everybody a little bit about yourself because you have an entrepreneurial history? I met you when we were filming a TV commercial for the “Love My Shoes” brand which has been a huge brand on Long Island for a long time. Tell us how did you get started with it all?
Robert: “Love My Shoes” came out of about 15 years of experience working in flea markets. I began as a 16-year-old working for a brother and a cousin who were partners in a shoe business in the flea markets. Soon after, I took it over and had four or five indoor and outdoor flea markets. I was working very hard for years until 1996 when “Love My Shoes” was born. “Love My Shoes” became a household name on Long Island. We were getting customers from all over Westchester, Connecticut even from New Jersey that would come and shop.
John: How many stores did you have?
Robert: We had seven stores and we were the fifth website in the shoe industry to ever launch on the internet.
John: the fifth to ever launch?
Robert: Yes, to ever launch. In 1999 lovemyshoes.com was operational, before Zappos, and I did very well because people just couldn’t believe they could buy shoes from across the country. We brought that to life, but then in 2010 and 2011, we hit some very tough years. We tried to withstand the storm and downsize a little bit. A lot of our customers were not happy that we had to close several stores. We went down to only two. It was very hard to handle all the competition with everybody stepping on each other, chasing the same dollar.
Many years ago our family started a new tradition of giving memories as gifts and we have continued that tradition into the next generation. Spending quality time with each other is of course the best gift you can give someone you love. Not only spending time together but enjoying the simple things like nature walks, beach days, picnics in the park, anything where you can just be together.
These days with so many families making every dollar count it may be a great time to start a new tradition of giving memories in your own family and with your own friends. While there are great sentiments in wrapping a shiny new gift and putting it under the tree, there are just as many if not more sentiments spending the day at the aquarium with your niece or grandmother.
Gifts of time and memories are the best gifts and I doubt anyone would much disagree (although I hear that diamonds are a girl’s best friend). This year with so many challenges behind us and so many unknowns ahead of us, we never know what the future holds, who will be with us, and for how long. Time is the greatest gift we not only can give those we truly love, but also the most valuable gift we can give ourselves. How do you give memories as gifts? Well, it is quite easy as all you need is a piece of stationary or a nice card to write in your gift.