If there was ever a person who possessed the qualities described above it is Lidia Szczepanowski, Esq., Model Citizen’s 2021 Woman of the Year. She inspires and brings hope to others the way a beacon of light guides ships at night. Lidia exemplifies the real-life embodiment of the words success, independence, entrepreneurship, and glamour and she does so with humility, integrity, and passion. Lidia acquired a plethora of knowledge over the years as a litigation and business development attorney, business strategist, entrepreneur, black belt in karate, and international spokesmodel. More importantly, despite her extraordinarily busy schedule, she has always been most passionate about “giving back” through proactive “hands-on” participation in philanthropy and philanthropic activities.
John Dowling: Good to hear it. I want to let you know that you have officially been nominated as Model Citizens Man of the Year for 2021!
Russ Cassata: Sounds great.
John Dowling: Congratulations.
Russ Cassata :This is a great honor. I appreciate that, very humbly.
John Dowling: You’ve done a lot for so many not to mention Model Citizens Magazine itself and it means so much. I think sharing your story is going to inspire a lot of people and that’s part of the hope of this interview is that we inspire a lot of people to actually get involved and to do more for our community.
Russ Cassata: I agree. The Cassata Foundation is just one aspect of everything. I’ve been lucky in life.
John Dowling: Well our readers and fans would like to hear more about that, so let’s get into this interview.
John: Scott this is John Dowling the publisher of Model Citizens Magazine. I would like to congratulate you on being nominated as Model Citizens Magazine Survivor of the year 2021. Please starting with that horrific hit and run, please share what you have been through.
Scott: In 2011 my wife and I me were going to Arizona. We were going to North Carolina before heading there to say goodbye to her sons. On our way in Virginia getting gas, we were in a car accident on a head on collision. It was a lifted pick-up that hit us. We were stopped and not moving, when they it hit us. They were drunk and it was a woman driving. They hit-and-run, but we were lucky that my wife took a picture of their license plate. We called the police and they were able to find them and it found out that she was a armed robbery and she was out on parole. We had to take a tow truck to take us to Charlotte. After we said goodbye to the boys, we had to take a rental car to take us to Arizona. When we got there, we went to the ER and they said we had to go to see a spine specialist. Luckily my wife wasn’t hurt but I was lucky that I wasn’t paralyzed. The doctor found that my spine was compressed from my 2nd to the 7th vertebrae. I needed surgery and to have them fused. Since that time, I am not able to work anymore. We got an attorney and after 6 months in Arizona, we needed to go back to Charlotte. Thankfully, we still retained the attorney. I got disability but it did not kick in until 2015. In November 2017, I had a stroke that hit aortic heart went to the left side of my brain. Then a week after, I had a second stroke. I was sent to rehab and I was there for about a month and a 1/2. In February 2018 I had a seizure and I was dead for about 2 minutes. The ambulance brought me to the hospital. Since the rest of that year, I had 8 more seizures and I am on blood thinner and many other medications. The doctors had a few months until they were able to control my seizures. Since then, my strokes and my seizures have stopped. I have a very problem with my speech and my balance and confusion. Since the strokes and the seizures, I am not allowed anymore to drive myself. I am home bound, I now to have depend friends or Ubers to take me back-and-forth for doctor appointments. Recently I had a bad fall. I was coming down on the stairs to and hit my door and cracked it with my head. Obviously, I no longer allowed to go on stairs.
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.
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.
The love was gone and she lay empty in my arms like a ghost with no heartbeat. I was falling endlessly into the dark eternity of despair, not knowing just how far the crack in my heart would grow, or if the gap would be beyond repair. Years of emptiness and lost hope were my daily companions. I was alone and unwilling to settle for anyone less than my soul mate and then I met her. But how far had the cracks in her heart grown? Was her smile just a front to hide her own pain? She was no stranger to betrayal and her heart was also challenged. This she shared candidly, when I first met her. And of course, I saw it in her eyes. Maybe the cracks in her heart is what attracted me to her, as I am so accustomed to rescuing broken hearts, as I recklessly expose my own.
I have fooled myself before, blurring the lines between love and despair. What is it about the fluttering of a broken wing that blurs my vision? After so many years of shielding my wounds have I healed? How is it even possible that after so much pain and betrayal I could even consider trying again? Why her? How could this possibly be happening, or was it just in my imagination? What is it about these chapters of love that can be so painful that it takes years to recover, if ever? I do not know if I can or if she is even willing, but she could be the one that will bring some sense or meaning to the years of waiting, hoping and longing for a true soul mate. Is love even under our own control? Is it beyond our own capacity to limit or create, or is it simply destiny? Why would she ever choose me? I am so flawed. Even as I write this I know that beauty like hers, both inside and physically is a once in a lifetime encounter.
My heart has not been my own since as long as I can remember. Maybe the pain was just too much for it to heal. When you do not own your own heart, how can you even offer it again? Does this happen to everyone after losing love? After believing I am living in a world of brokenhearted people, maybe I have literally become one of them myself. I see it everywhere like an emotional plague. So what makes me think that I am immune to the same plight as all of those I see around me who appear to be heartless. Is it just that they too have cracks in their own hearts, so deep, so wounded they cannot go back? So why? Why does my heart bring me here again? Is it possible that time does heal all wounds?
It’s no secret that restaurants are having a hard time. While the first stimulus package helped, and now the street and outside dining has helped keep many of them afloat, it appears that a good number of them are going under and there will be more to follow soon enough.
First off a very large part of society is just outright nervous or afraid to go out at all never mind to “somersault laden COVID-19 restaurants”. I know the few times I have gone out to eat, I always sit outside. When I can not sit outside, I check a few things first before entering. I always make sure that the restaurant is nearly empty. If it is full or has a larger capacity crowd even within COVID-19 limits, I just walk away. That makes me think that others are doing the same.
John: I am talking with Sal Ferro so that we can get his thoughts on the breaking news that we’re getting out of the White House, President Trump and his wife First Lady, Melania Trump, have both contracted the Coronavirus. Sal, what do you think about this news and how do you think it’s going to affect the upcoming election?
Sal: Well first and foremost, I would certainly like to say that I hope the two of them recover fully. We don’t wish any harm on anybody. I think our country should be hoping that are President and his family are safe and get through this.
As far as the election, I think you can look at it in two ways; some people will sympathize with Trump and then you’re going to have a lot of people who will just wish him ill. Unfortunately, you already are seeing this online. It’s just going to further put a divide between the far-left and far-right and the conspiracy theorists and all that other stuff. It’s simply that somebody got COVID. Many people that I know have contracted COVID and they didn’t mean to get it.
John: I’m pretty sure I had it myself earlier this year.
Sal: Right, you didn’t get it on purpose. COVID is a reality and how severe it is up to interpretation. According to scientists, it is a serious issue. Right now our President needs to quarantine and the people who do support Trump will support him even more now and people who hate Trump will continue to hate him.
I first hopped on the stand three summers ago, the lifeguard stand that is, unaware and nervous of when I would have to make my first save. I had spent the previous two weeks receiving the proper training and obtaining the certifications necessary to become a lifeguard. Despite all the hours of testing, countless laps, and many rescues I made throughout my weeks of training, why was I still nervous when I went up on the stand for the first time?
The last two words of that question are the most important, first time. No matter what anyone strives to be or achieve, doing something for the first time is always scary. Whether it be riding a bike, the first day at a new job (in my case) or going on a roller coaster, doing something new for the first time is bound to make anybody nervous.
As I sat on the lifeguard stand in my expensive bathing suit, with my sunglasses over my face and my red whistle in my mouth, I’m sure I looked calm, cool and collected on the outside. However, on the inside, I was a nervous wreck. I mean sure, I had done drills and made practice saves over and over again for the past 14 days, but if ever and whenever the time actually came, could I do my job?
Earth’s nearest planetary neighbor, suddenly looks more intriguing as a potential source of life. An international team of astronomers announced that it had remotely detected the presence of phosphine, a potential chemical “biosignature” in Venus’s atmosphere — very possibly generated by living organisms.
To confirm this the next obvious step is sending a new probe to take a closer look, something NASA and Russia will both be doing. The U.S. space agency was already considering going forward with two new Venus missions, either or both could potentially be modified to look for phosphine or attempt a more direct detection of alien lifeforms.