Author Archives

John Joseph Dowling Jr.

I am the executive producer and director of photography for all of the content on this site. I am available for any size production or photographic opportunity worldwide. I am also the author of Chapters of Love, and founder of LongIslandMatchmaking.com

Model Citizens Magazine Long Island December 2020

It is my distinct honor to once again bring to you Long Island’s Model Citizens! This is Model Citizens Magazine’s Annual Holiday Issue as well as our gift guide, and TOP PHOTOS of the YEAR ISSUE! With thousands of portraits of the most philanthropic and go givers on Long Island and beyond. And then of course some really pretty people and Strong Islanders for good measure. I am extremely grateful for this community of model citizens who agree that paying it forward should be a way of life for us all. Hear their survivor stories, the real people in our community, and their stories. It is again my honor to share their stories with you all. A special congratulations are in order for Model Citizens Couple of the Year Sal and Molly Ferro.

The December issue is the Holiday Issue and we have some great stories about Model Citizens and what we all hope for as we head into the holidays and the new year including my own story about Hope for 2021. We also celebrate the model citizens and our communities with over ONE THOUSAND portraits of all of us and our Model Citizen Communities in the TOP PHOTOS OF 2020 Sections of this issue.

There are a plethora of additional stories in this issue that we hope you enjoy. Note that any of these spreads and stories can be printed on fine art glossy, matt, satin, or canvas archival/museum-quality prints. Just click here to find out more. As always Live in Gratitude. Pay it Forward. Cherish your Chapters of love.

Margreit McInnis 2020 in Review

If I were to choose a theme for me this year, it would have to be that I allowed inspiration to take a front seat in my life. Have I ever done that before? Maybe a few scattered times, but then there always seemed to be an interruption. Sometimes within my control, sometimes not. Life happens when you are living life. But now, as a grown-up (and by that, I mean past the age of 45), I really have discovered how to tap into my potential. Right now, I would say I am growing a tree of professions and it has three big thick branches, my novels, teaching writing, and being in the financial industry.

I can say that my novel is published because it’s true. I really did it. It feels pretty good, this potential tapping thing. I can remember what a voracious reader I was as an adolescent. Romance, classics, horror, espionage…I read it all and adored getting lost in a story. It was a hobby, perhaps an escape, and I always had an aspiration to write something grand but different. It took a long time to find the right story and then a long time to build the skill to tell it with honor. I don’t think my grandfather really knew the priceless inheritance he gave me when he handed me my ancestor’s story. It was important to him to preserve our family history and to pass it to me because he knew I cared about it. I’m sure he didn’t imagine me turning it into this novel and subsequent three-book series that is enjoyed by many (so far!). But I can hear him, like an angel on my shoulder, cheering me on. I think about my ancestor Robert and his bravery and tenacity and how those qualities were so prevalent in my grandfather. I think they are in me as well (thanks Grandpa!) and so the inheritance continues its travels through the generations. The second novel in the series is almost done, and then there will be the third. I am an author. I am writing books. It is a dream I never thought attainable. My life has moved in such a positive direction in the last twelve months and the anticipation for what is next is like an open field waiting for lightning to strike.

Sal and Molly Ferro Model Citizens Magazine Couple of the Year 2020

Sal: First it comes from a place of feeling blessed, of appreciating what you do have in life. Many people will look at what they do not have, I tend to look at what I do have. I’ve always felt a commitment to give back to the community especially the one you live in and prosper in. I think it is something good for my family also. Giving back was instilled in me from childhood. My family went through challenging times, I lost my dad when I was a young kid. I know there are many families who go through challenges like that. I always thought that if there was ever a time in my life that I could do something to help others then I am going to do it, and Molly feels the same way.

John: You just said something that moved me because my father lost his father when he was eight years old. His father was run over by a train and my father never really recovered from that, not until very much later in life. What happened to your father?

Sal: My father was killed when he was 53 years old. I was 18. It was 1981. Just nine years earlier we lost my older brother when I was nine. So, I saw firsthand what it was like to lose the breadwinner and a sibling. My mom had to take care of the three of us who were at home. It was not easy. I quit college and worked full-time helping my mom support my siblings and basically putting the family first.

John: You grew up as a philanthropist in that lifestyle. It was your way of life.

Sal: I hate to use the word philanthropist because it makes me think of people who are mega-millionaires, big donors that give millions and millions and millions of dollars.

John: Yes, but none of those people matter right now. You have the Sal Ferro Foundation where you give out scholarships. I see you donating to families and helping people and also making sure the Huntington Hospital has the supplies they need. You are always giving back.

Patricia Polenz Costello’s Hardware Executive & Model Citizen

John: Once again this is John Dowling and I am here with Model Citizen Patricia Polenz. How are you, Patricia?

Patricia: I’m really good John, thank you. How are you?

John: I’m very good. I’m getting ready for the holidays; I just had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I wanted to call you so we could have part two of your interview now that you are well on your way to your new position with Costello Ace hardware. Could you tell us about your job and what you are doing?

Patricia: Sure! I am head of the Real Estate Division and this new division is going to be doing is setting up partnerships with real estate professionals to make them more successful at their jobs. Our goal is to provide services not only to the Real Estate industry but also to the communities where our stores are located. 

John: Talk to us about the kind of services that you have. It is kind of exciting because you really cannot get them anywhere else.

Patricia: Yes, that is true. We differentiate ourselves in a couple of different ways. A lot of people may not realize they can call in an order and we will deliver it if you don’t want to pick it up curbside.

Rob Zabbia 2020 The Year in Review.

2020, it has become more than just a year, and it is now becoming an adjective.  We have lost so many people and so much time with our loved ones being separated because of the virus, and because of politics. It seems like neither is going away soon, and I have chosen to step away from both and focus on what matters most. I have lost too much in 2020 and being apart from family is too much for me to deal with.

One of the bright spots of 2020 for me was reconnecting with my cousins and aunts. My mom is one of 6 girls, and my grandmother was what brought us all together. We were one of those families that cousins were my friends. We had so many memories to share over the years, with a big age difference from the oldest to the youngest. Losing my sister Alexis this year to cancer was a big blow to all of us because she was the youngest of the group. 

But we had great memories from 2020 because of social media, and video conferencing. We had calls almost every week, laughed, got to see the kids and grandkids of everyone, and got to spend quality, although distant time over the internet.  My cousin recorded them, so we have something to look back to when thinking of Alexis and can share them with her girls. 

The people in my life have been an incredible source of strength in helping me deal with the loss of my sister. People started sending the girls books and crafts to help my bother in law Mike and his family keep the girls occupied. Someone even sent them the Disney Princess Treasure chest, and the girls dress up every day.  People have donated to their college fund, and it is much appreciated. It will help them have as normal a life as anyone can after losing their mom at 3 years old. They have a long tough road ahead of them, but Mike and his family have all of us to help them get through it. 

COVID 2.0 and The New Year of Hope

As we go into the 11th full official month of our new reality and bring 2020 to its conclusion, it is important to enter the 2021 new year with positive momentum driving hope into society but more importantly to the individual, our local communities. 

If there is one key take-away from this year that the pandemic has shown to us all is that regardless of age, gender, social class, and/or geographic location around the world we are all in this together. 

It is never easy to learn and grow during difficult times. When differences and personal opinion are set aside, positive results and common ground can and will result in finding new ways of reinventing ourselves not only individually but as a society that can and will continue to thrive in ways that were never thought possible.  A little imagination and community will change lives.

Moderna’s Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH, made an announcement via Twitter early Monday morning regarding results from the latest development of a vaccine that has had remarkable results. Moderna along with another pharmaceutical company Pfizer/ BioNTech collaborated saying their vaccines worked to about the same degree 94.1- 95% efficacy rate against the disease. Both Vaccines used similar developmental processes: A messenger RNA (mRNA) to code for a protein called spike that studs the surface of the pathogen.

DJ Chef Marc Weiss Model Citizen

John: I’m John Dowling from Model Citizens Magazine and I’m here today with DJ Chef aka Marc Weiss who is the only entertainer who simultaneously cooks & DJ’s for events & private parties & is a Food Network Cutthroat Kitchen Champion. How are you?

DJ Chef: Hey! Yes & I’m going to be competing on Food Network again on Supermarket Stakeout in the Spring 2021! I’m great, how it going, John?

John: That’s awesome can’t wait to watch. For the sake of our readers and your fans, can you kindly tell them all what your God-given name is?

DJ Chef: (laughter) Marc….Marc Weiss.

John: How did you get the name DJ Chef?

DJ Chef: It’s because of the two things that I love to do – cook & DJ!  To give you the quick version of my story, when I was fifteen, I was enthralled with music. My mom was a bit of a hippie and I used to raid her album collection and I got into the Beatles and Stones at 8 years old. When I hot me teens hip-hop music had just started. I got obsessed with this new music which was all about turntables, rapping, and scratching. So I got a pair of turntables for the holidays, luckily at the time my grandfather was in the electronics business and had access to all kinds of electronics and he was able to know about it & get the whole DJ set up with everything I needed. At that time there really were not many DJs so I started dragging all my equipment to house parties and taught myself how to DJ & rock a party on the fly. I was the neighborhood DJ! 

John: I have been to many of the parties where you were performing and they have been so much fun.

Holiday Dreams 2021 Rhonda Klch

It is that time of year when the leaves are almost all off the trees, the air is crisp and our communities bring out their best in festive decorations.  It is the time of year when your friends and family make arrangements to see each other, hug, kiss, and tell stories of the good old days.  It is the time of year that sets of the holiday season and to many, it is the most unbearable, emotional time of year as it is a reminder that the season of “gift-giving” is close by.

The holiday season is such a unique time of year.  Most of us love to sip cocoa, listen to music, and sit by the fire on a cold night, but for others, these are only visions and dreams they can only dream of.  The holidays for readers like you and I are a blessed time to spend with our family, the joy of shopping and purchasing items that put a smile on the faces of our children, but what about those that cannot do the same, are they any less important? Well, I think that those who are struggling should have memories and that is what Holiday Dreams hope to do again this year. Take those holiday dreams and make them a reality.

Nicole LaPonsie A Miracle In The Making

John: Where did you grow up? 

Nicole: I was born and raised in California, born in Oakland and raised in Oakley.

John: Tell me about Oakley.

Nicole: Oakley is a little suburban town just east of San Francisco.

John: What made it special?

Nicole: It had a small-town vibe, it wasn’t a big city, not too big or too small. It was perfect for the age that I was at the time.

John: Was it like Huntington or like East Meadow?

Nicole: To be honest, I do not really know what East Meadow is like. I’m still getting used everything here. The best way to describe Oakley is to say it is a place where kids could go out and play and go out and play.

John: Was ritzy, or was it more blue-collar?

Nicole: Blue color, absolutely.

John: Why did you come to New York?

Nicole: For my career. I’m in retail management and the Vice President of my company called me when my direct boss was on vacation and promoted me to a position located on Long Island. He offered me the opportunity and because I didn’t go away to college and didn’t move away and then come back home like most other kids, I decided to take the job. It was an all-expense paid for opportunity, so it made sense for me to get on a plane and go. I was happy to be thought of as talented enough for the VP to call me directly. 

John: So, you came to New York and you work fashion retail. What happened next?

Nicole: It wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. Unfortunately, the individuals that were running the department didn’t have the same moral values that I was used to with this company, especially given my long history with them. So, when I uncovered that, it led to a mutual separation. I didn’t want to be a part of something I wasn’t proud of, and they didn’t want me to be a part of something that they couldn’t be number one at. It was a joint decision, but it was an extremely hard pill to swallow. I had been with that company for a long time. I watched it grow from 56 stores to over 500.

John Jay LaValle Model Citizen

John: This is John Dowling, publisher of Model Citizens Magazine and I’m here with former Suffolk Republican Chairman, entrepreneur, and attorney John Jay Lavalle. Congratulations on your nomination.

John Jay: Thank you very much 

John: Can you tell us a little bit about what you do these days? I know you’ve been in the public eye quite a bit. You’ve done a lot for Long Island with your political efforts. But not many people know how very diversified you are.

John Jay: Thank you. In 2018, I decided not a seek reelection as the Republican Chairman for Suffolk County because I really wanted to have the ability to practice law and grow my consulting company. Also, with three boys, my oldest is three years away from college and the other two are coming up right behind him, I knew it was really time for me to return to the private sector so I could have the ability to spend time with my boys. They are baseball players, and so their schedules get busy, especially when the three of them are playing at once. I do not like to miss anything; I am at everything. That is my number one priority. It is a balancing of my passion for politics and government with my family life. Their happiness and me being there for them as they grow up is particularly important. It was clear to me that not only did I have to provide that time but help them prepare for college, and all kinds of fun things in life. That was the driving force behind the change I made in 2018. In my law practice, I help clients with commercial and residential real estate and I also have a consulting company, The Patriot Consulting Group, which is for real estate and general business consulting. I am also participating in some commercial real estate transactions as a broker. I have my license in New York for commercial real estate which came about through my law practice, where it helped my clients to be able to connect buyers and sellers of commercial properties.