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

Model Citizen Mark Macaluso

John: I am John Dowling and I am here with Model Citizen Mark Macaluso, a partner in B2Bespoke Men’s Clothier in Glen Cove

Mark: Thank you

John: Can you tell us a little bit about how you got into men’s clothes, because I still don’t know the story. 

Mark: It was accidental actually. When I was 23 years old I was lucky enough to get a job at a great clothing store here in the area. While I was there, I learned everything there was to learn about menswear from the ground up. I found that I had a passion for it at a very young age and was lucky because I had an opportunity to work with some great people while I was with the store. I started in tuxedo rentals and learned all the different lapel styles, fits, and combinations that you can put together.  Then that business gave me the opportunity to do sales and after a few years of that, I found that I really took a liking to it; the mixing and matching of colors and patterns and making people feel good about what they’re wearing. Then a few years after that, it was time to explore doing it on our own and so Robert and I got together and put our minds together and here we are five years later. 

Model Citizen Robert Bartol

I am John Dowling and I am here with Model Citizen Robert Bartol, a partner in the men’s clothier company in Glen Head, B2Bespoke. Now tell me because you’ve been in the men’s fashion world for quite a while, haven’t you?

Robert: I was, so to speak, born with a thimble. My parents were both tailors. So for my whole life, I’ve been in the business. 

John: So, your parents were tailors?

Robert: Yes, they were. My dad was a tailor in Europe. He used to work in Germany at the Opera House. He made all the costumes for the theater, and my mom was a seamstress.

John: So, it is a family business.

Robert: Yes, it is very much a family business.

John: What drew you to men’s clothing? What is it about men’s fashion that attracted you to the business?

Robert: I always liked creativity, since I was born into this profession and it’s always been around me, I actually like the creative part of the job. I have many things I like to do like cooking, but tailoring is my passion. I like to make people feel good, look good, that is my passion

Model Citizen Patricia Polenz

John: This is John Dowling from Model Citizens Magazine. I am here with Patricia Polenz who has been nominated as a Model Citizen for all you do for charity and all you do for your clients. Congratulations!

Patricia: Thank you, I am honored and humbled.

John: It’s very well deserved. I know this was a tough year for you, but you have rebounded. I think you are a social butterfly out in the community. I see you helping with raffles at charity events on Long Island, a lot of people know you. However, I don’t think they know about your business history. Can you share for a moment your career history and then we can get into your charitable work at the end of the interview, sound good?

Patricia: Sure. I think that a lot of people don’t know my first daughter was born with a genetic disorder. She was terminal from birth, it’s a very rare genetic disorder. Also, I was adopted, and unfortunately, both my parents died when I was young; my dad when I was 17 and my mom when I was 19.  It was a brutal childhood.

John: That’s a lot to go through. I get it.

Patricia: I had five children, but Candace passed away when she was 10. I was very involved with Make A Wish Foundation because of Candace. I was also with her school, which was a special school for handicapped children. For example, one Christmas I had all the kids tell their teachers the one thing they really wanted for Christmas. Most of these children were from disadvantaged and economically challenged homes. So I took the list and I bought every child what they wanted for Christmas. I wrapped each one and brought it to the school. The principal was so taken back, but I said I didn’t want anyone to know who did this or where it came from. I wanted the kids to know that Santa came by.

John: That is beautiful. So that’s how you got involved with philanthropy?

Robert Zabbia & The Final Presidential Debate 2020

My first takeaway from the final Presidential Debate before the election is that this should be the final Presidential Debate run by the commission.  Debates are about the candidates and them questioning each other and answering agreed-upon questions by the moderator. I do believe that Kristen Welker did an adequate job, she wasn’t a fully neutral moderator who was there to keep the debate on focus and not become the scream fest the first debate was.  The issue is in all three debates, there were three people featured, and it became as much about the moderator as it did about the candidates. 

I think that both candidates handled themselves well in this debate.  There weren’t any major gaffs by either candidate, they both respected the moderator when their time was up, and there wasn’t the name-calling of the first debate.  I think there was a clear definition of how these two candidates have very different visions for our country, and they both solidified their bases. I’m sure there are some undecided voters out there, so they do now have clear contrasts between the candidates to help make up their final decision.   

Here are where I think the major differences come down to.  When it comes to the economy, Trump wants to continue his deregulation and lower taxes to get the country back to the rapid growth and low unemployment of the pre-COVID era. People can argue whether it was the greatest economy in our history, as he claims, but they can’t argue that statistics show that wages were climbing, wage inequality was closing, and there was record low unemployment to every demographic. Trump wants to open up the economy and get people back to work as he claims the COVID is going to go away. 

Biden is looking to increase taxes on businesses and high-income wage earners, increase corporate taxes, and have the government increase stimulus to get money to lower-income families. Biden wants to “transition” from oil and fracking and invest more into green energy to get more employed while reducing carbon emissions. This all sounds great, but do we want to go back to the slow growth, low participation economy of the Obama-Biden years?  Some would gladly say yes, we did come out of the worst recessions since the depression. But why did the country reject this idea and elect Trump in the first place?

The Science Behind living, A life of Gratitude.

Gratitude is one of the most nurturing of human emotions. By sharing moments of appreciation to ourselves and to others we truly benefit from gratitude. Gratitude is derived from the Latin word ‘gratia’,  which means gratefulness or thankfulness. In its simplest form, gratitude refers to a state of thankfulness’ or a ‘state of being grateful’.

In motivational psychology, gratitude is the human way of acknowledging the good things in life. Scientists have defined gratitude as a positive emotional response that we perceive in giving or receiving. Some say that gratitude is associated with a “benefit” that was not intentionally sought after. Others say that gratitude is a response to feeling deserved. Many would define gratitude as both as well as a feeling earned because of the good intentions of another person.

Thanking yourself, thanking God, thanking nature, thanking your friends, and even strangers…. Gratitude in any form stimulates our minds and makes us feel happier. Gratitude truly has a healing effect on us. The benefits of gratitude are still not completely known but we do know many of the ways in which gratitude affects us, and it is significantly.

Gratitude in all forms is associated with happiness. Whether we say “thank you’” like someone’s blog post, listen to someone’s podcast, or just tune into a connection with appreciation, gratitude just does it for our “souls”. Yes, our souls. Gratitude inspires a feeling of pure satisfaction and encouragement. Expressions of gratitude help in building and sustaining long term relationships, deal with adversities and bounce back from them with strength and determination.

Take Control of Your Life With An Unlikely Partner

I promise I am not going to start this article by saying things like, what a terrible year this has been! Will this ever end? Isn’t there anyone who can reboot 2020, turn it off, and back on again? No, I am not going there. Instead, I am going to ask you to close your eyes and visualize a busy highway in the evening. I know this may seem a little strange, but just go with me on this one.

It is nighttime, and all the lanes are filled, but traffic is flowing nicely. There is a plethora of red and white lights that are glowing like twinkling stars. It is quiet but for the sound of a gentle wind. 

Now think back to a time when you have felt stress. Maybe it was something small like you got into the shower and realized you have no shampoo, you were late for work, or you have teenage children. Perhaps it was more significant and life-altering like the death of a loved one or the breakup of a marriage. 

How are the highway and your stress connected? Well, when you feel stress, whether it is big or small, your body goes to work by releasing hormones and starting processes to help you manage. These natural chemicals and neurotransmitters are jolted into action as if they got a green traffic light. It happens when you feel things like annoyance, happiness, excitement, sadness, or anger. When you feel these emotions, you may notice that your heart starts pounding, maybe you get a stomach or headache, you sweat, or your face turns red. These real symptoms are the result of your natural response systems, and guess what? You can affect the outcome, to make the good better, and lessen the bad.  

Model Citizen Gary Brown

John: I am John Dowling and I’m here for Model citizens Magazine with Gary Brown on the phone. Welcome, Gary.

Gary: Thank you, John, how is everything?

John: Everything is great, thank you. I wanted to let you know that Rhonda Klch from Equity First Foundation has nominated you as a Model Citizen for November, congratulations.

Gary: Thank you so much. It’s such an honor.

John: It is well deserved, Gary. For our readers and your fans could you please share with us a little bit of how you got started with philanthropy and why?

Gary: Do you want the abbreviated version or do you want the real true story?

John: I want the whole version and if we need to edit it for the content we will, but for this interview, I really would love the whole story.

Gary: Awesome! So I was an NFL player. I went to Nassau Community College and then Georgia Tech. From there I played in the pros with several different teams, winning the Super Bowl, the whole nine yards. I always said I would like to give back, but I never had time. The game, all the things that I was doing, always came first, having fun and hanging out and taking advantage of my fame. After my football career, I went through a little bit of a depression. Coming back home and having to move back into my childhood neighborhood, my childhood household, and my childhood bedroom, it was a reflection on how I went full circle. I traveled all around the United States Europe Canada and there I was back again. The journey was over.  I’m back in my Brentwood bedroom and it was a hard pill for me to swallow.

Alexis Zabbia Davis in Memoriam

Suffering a loss in the family is something I am unfortunately familiar with, after losing our son Brian.  Brian represented the loss of the hope and expectations of being a parent. He was with us for the 20 weeks of pregnancy, and a few hours after that.  It seemed like something we would never get over, and we never have. But life went on, my wife and I were blessed with twins a little over a year later, and we remember Brian as our first child. 

I August, my mom broke the news to me that my baby sister Alexis was sick.  They didn’t know what it was, and she was going to Stanford University Hospital to find out what it was. When I call Alexis my baby sister, she really was the baby. She was 12 years younger than me, so our paths crossed infrequently over the years. By the time she was walking and talking, I was playing football and partying in High School.  We didn’t have much in common when we were young because of the age difference. When she was in High School, I was out of college, had my own apartment, and was into my career 

Alan J. Schwartz Paying it Forward as a way of life.

John: I’m here with Alan Schwartz, Attorney, Judge and Model Citizen. It’s good to hear you from you, Alan.

Alan: Good morning, John.

John: You know the theme of this month’s issue is both living in gratitude and paying it forward. I was hoping to get a few words from you about paying it forward as I know it’s a big part of your life.

Alan:  My pleasure.

John: Would you please tell our readers and your fans a little bit about why you pay forward?

Alan: It seems to me that those of us who are lucky enough to have done well in our careers and our lives have some obligation to try to pass that on to others, often times expecting nothing in return, although good things usually come about regardless. The best example I can give as a practicing attorney for 40 years is that I spend a lot of time mentoring law students and young lawyers, for organizations like the Nassau County Bar Association and a variety of mentor programs, and we frequently have student interns working with us on a regular basis. It’s usually and primarily law school, but we’ve had high school students, college students, and even secretarial and paralegal students work with us at the firm. The benefit to them is it that it gives them a real idea of what it’s like to practice law, and it allows me to spend time with young people who are enthusiastic about what I do for a living, which in turn makes me more enthusiastic.

Model Citizen and Long Island Fashionista Natalya Smolyakova

When Natalya was just a little girl she loved her homeland of Latvia. To her, it was a fairy tale, and all she dreamed of even as a young child. However, with Russia injecting a great deal of influence over her homeland and her parents realizing that maybe a move to Moscow would yield a better life for them all, she moved to Moscow. She longed for her homeland and never forgot just how beautiful home was. All the same, she loved her family and despite her yearning to go back home, she stayed in Moscow and lived with her family. Even though she believed one day she would return to Latvia, soon as she became a young adult she found love and married her daughter Alisa’s father and as opposed to moving back to Latvia as she once hoped, she found herself on her way to the USA. 

At first, she found herself and her husband Konstantin living in Aurora just outside of Denver Colorado, as a mom, a wife, and starting completely over hoping to find the American dream. Not too long after emigrating to the USA she moved from Colorado to New York and fell in love with the Big Apple. When she first arrived in New York and to this day she knew that NYC was where her heart would be and where she would raise her family. While Natalya has lived all over the world from Ukraine to Russia, however, now that she has had a taste of NY she will stay here forever. Eventually, Natalya hopes to move into the city and live by Central Park. And yes Natalya loves to dream and believes that her dreams will come true, one at a time. 

While Natalya came to NY and found love for the city, she also found that her chapter of love with her daughter’s father had come to an organic end and love itself drove her to relocate to NY. Natalya worked with her friend who had her own fashion line. Natalya first decided to get into fashion because her country was so poor that she wanted to have her own clothes. When Natalya was just a young girl her grandmother and her aunt were both artists and made their own clothing. Living in such a poor country allowed Natalya to learn at a very young age that if you wanted something you had to find a way to do it yourself, and before Natalya knew it she had developed a career as a tailor and was making clothes for herself and for her family.