It is once again our honor to share with you this the February and March issues of Model Citizens Magazine. We combined the February and March issues due to Covid affecting aour team and our families. Family first always. We are back to our publishing schedule on a monthly basis with the April Issue. In 2021 the publishing schedule may vary a bit depending on Covid19 and the effects on our team, families, and society, but generally we publish the week of the 15th every month. As always live in gratitude, pay it forward, and cherish your Chapters of Love.
What about Covid19 and dogs? Read more about how to care for your pet and rescues during this unprecedented time in our society.
In honor of Women’s History Month and women’s entrepreneurship, QBO Help a new entrepreneurial bookkeeping and management consulting partnership is being recognized as a Model Citizen Partnership. Three women who gave up their corporate lives for a company of their own. Despite the risk and covid19, these veterans of bookkeeping and management consulting bring complementary strengths and experience to provide the best service offering in the industry. Hands down, great value.
But why with Covid19 and so much uncertainty would three corporate executives leave their positions to start a new company? A few reasons, first off they felt the largest providers of services in the industry are not making the grade, they are simply not providing the level of professional service that they are all used to providing. That means that there are clients out there across the country who need help and that there are few companies who provide virtual services quite as good as this team of women. Christine Cooper the Chief Operating Officer and Managing partner and her CFO/CPA Partner Kaylynn Dalebout as well as their Chief Marketing Officer & EVP of Real-Time Service Ashley Smith.
John Dowling: Congratulations on being nominated as a Model Citizen for this month’s issue of Model Citizens Magazine.
Orit Hodarkovsky: Thank you, it’s an honor.
John: Please tell us a bit about yourself.
Orit: Well, I am a mother of two amazing children. I work for an investment firm and am also very involved in my community. I am now working on an amazing line of clothing called I GOT Vaxxed Apparel where the proceeds are going to support children and families who have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. So I am now also an entrepreneur!
Orit: I live in Cold Spring Harbor and absolutely love it. One thing that I enjoy doing is walking the nature trails near us. I bring along my two dogs and some friends, and we have a great time. Something that makes me unique is that I was born and raised in Israel.
John: When did you come to the United States?
Orit: I moved to the U.S. in 1987 when I was 9 years old with my family – we moved to Cherry Hill, New Jersey – which is where I grew up.
John: What made your family decide to come to the US?
Orit: What brought my family here is actually a very interesting story and something I think that relates closely to the work I am doing with I Got Vaxxed Apparel. My father was a chemist in Russia and in Israel. He specialized in heat resistant polymers and has about 130 patents in this field. My dad created the insulation material that was used by Russian astronauts and the Russian Space program way back in the day. Pretty cool, right? The United States Government offered him the opportunity to open up a factory in New Jersey to manufacture one of his patented materials. This particular patent was going to be utilized to produce insulation material for U.S. army tanks. My parents were excited to live in America and we moved. They were risk takers, and I am too. I see the opportunity to help end COVID-19 and I am doing it!
The age-old question of…what do I do with $10,000? I am sure you’ve all had the thought. As a financial professional I have been asked this question numerous times and the right answer, at least to me, is not what you might think.
When asked this at perhaps a party or networking event, the first thing that comes to mind is, how do I answer this and have it be really impactful and positively affect this person’s thought process? This is where my writing talent and passion can cross over into my more analytical life in financial planning. Do I use a food analogy? Perhaps something in nature? Or maybe construction? This decision, which must happen quickly while I’m in the moment, really depends on who asks the question. For the purposes of this column, I am going with food. Lasagna to be exact. So here goes…
We all know that lasagna is layered. That is what makes it soooo delicious. But what if you just threw everything in with no plan, no structure. What if you lumped it all in a pyrex and put it in the oven, would it cook? Yes. Would it be actual lasagna? No, it would be a pile of mushy soup. You wouldn’t really reach your goal if you chose the quick and easy route, right?
Being in business for over 20 years, I have had many people working on my team, helping my customers. Over the years, I have had many different personalities, lots of success, and just as many failures at building my team. What I have found is that the success of any business is based on many factors and varies by industry. But the one common denominator is building the dream team.
A dream team will have many different looks, and it is based on the culture of the business. The types of team members who I find out work best for me, won’t necessarily be a great fit at many other insurance agencies, much less in many other businesses. My team is built on the vision that my father and I have developed in establishing our agency and are deeply ingrained in our family values.
The key things that are important to be a good fit on my dream team are very much dependent on being part of the family and treating people with respect. We are in a service business, that our competitors are constantly trying to make it seem like that price is the only thing that matters. But Superstorm Sandy has shown many people how who is helping you with your insurance is much more important than how much you are paying. A few dollars a month in savings can cost tens of thousands of dollars in a claim that is either underpaid or denied.
Being a Model Citizen of the Year, I have to acknowledge the contribution the members of my team have made in order for me to be able to spend so much time working with my community, help the not for profits, and being so involved in so many things, while building a growing business. My team shares my vision of giving, and they also have their own charities and programs that they work with in their personal time.
John Dowling: Hello Jennifer, congratulations on your nomination as a feature in this month’s Model Citizen Magazine. Tell me a little more about yourself – share with our readers who Jennifer Vartanov is.
Jennifer Vartanov: Well, I’m 39 years old, I live on Long Island. I’ve been a lifelong resident on Long Island, where I chose to raise my three children, my wonderful husband, and our two four-legged friends. I’m a dog person – I love animals. While it’s definitely a lot of work, it’s totally worth it. I’m also a businesswoman. I have been in the business world for nearly two-decades. Professionally, I’m the co-Founder of Merchant Industry and Swipe4Free. In the community, I am well known as the co-Founder of the Concerned Jericho Parents, one of Oyster Bay’s largest civic groups.
John: You’re an entrepreneur, actually, aren’t you? Tell us a little more about your entrepreneurial efforts – I know you and your husband work together — which could be challenging as we all know — but you both have seemed to do it very well.
Jennifer: Yes, my husband and I are both entrepreneurs. Over the years, like anything, there have been challenges – but, like all couples, we have learned how to deal with it. There’s an interesting dynamic in the workplace because we are partners as well as husband and wife. At the same time, though, I have learned so much about working with my husband over the years and I think it has been a wonderful thing. If you have the opportunity to be a husband-and-wife team, it’s important to know that your roles change in the workplace. At home, you are spouses, at work, you are there to run a business. People are relying on you; you have responsibilities, you have employees. You have to recognize that you are wearing different hats at different times, and being able to have those two roles and work together, side-by-side, is a really special thing.
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.