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!
John: When did you decide to call Long Island, home?
Orit: I came to Long Island six years ago. After living in Manhattan for about 15 years, I thought it would be a great place to raise a family and join a really great community. When I discovered Cold Spring Harbor, I fell in love with the small town charm but big town energy, the little shops in town, the farms and nurseries, the harbor and of course, the entire community.
John: I couldn’t agree with you more. Now you have a cool little business, don’t you?
Orit: Yes! I Got Vaxxed Apparel is the name of my clothing line. And it’s very timely. So as you might guess it has to do with getting vaccinated and beating COVID-19. It is a line of hoodies, baseball caps, masks, and t-shirts. Very stylish kind of streetwear inspired by brands like Supreme and Kith, and reasonably priced. There are two collections: the first is a #GETVAXXED Collection and the second is the #IGOTVAXXED Collection. People who have been vaccinated love the second collection because they can wear my clothes and let people know they’ve been vaccinated. The purpose of both collections is to really raise awareness for the importance of the vaccine so we can begin to turn the page on this pandemic, put the pandemic behind us, and get back to normal. So really at the heart of the business is the mantra of let’s get back to normal together. Let’s encourage people in our communities to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Even better, a meaningful portion of the proceeds are going to charity.
John: Beautiful! So obviously this project has more than a financial meaning to you. Why did you start it? What motivated you to get involved with this movement?
Orit: So there are two things that motivate me. Number one is to move forward, to get back to normal and spread the word, get everybody educated, and encourage everyone to get vaccinated as soon as they can.
John: There’s a lot of uncertainty, many people are under the belief that they don’t work and some people are under the impression that they could get sick later. Still others are under the belief they could get sick now from it, while others don’t think it’s going to be effective against mutations. So there’s a lot of street talk that I think is very negative, and not actually accurate, but it’s causing a lot of people to second guess whether they get that vaccination.
Orit: Yes, it’s true. Over 30% of Americans say they won’t get the COVID vaccine. Currently, about 10% of Americans have been vaccinated. It’s a good start, but we have such a long way to go. There’s a lot of misinformation out there. There’s a lot of skepticism out there. What we want to do is debunk some of those myths and create a social platform on Facebook, Instagram, and on Twitter, where there are tons of resources you can find about the vaccines, whichever one, whether it’s Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer or Moderna. But be a real resource where anyone can visit to learn more about it.
There are over 520,000 people who have died from COVID. This is by far the most of any developed nation in the world and the worst pandemic this country has faced in over 100 years. You know, if we don’t continue to wear masks, if we don’t get vaccinated, the death toll is going to 600,000. We have the opportunity now. It’s a new year, a new President, and a real opportunity to come together, spread the word and encourage one another, to get educated and get vaccinated. That is what wearing my clothing line should do – spread this message.
That’s just that’s the one angle. And the second angle is there are so many communities that have been really hard hit because of the pandemic. And many people have lost their primary sources of income. Children who are not going to school in-person are taking virtual classes. Many don’t even have laptops so they are not learning a thing. What I strive to do is help these communities, by donating a portion of the proceeds from the clothing line to the GO Campaign, which is a charity that helps children and families all around the world. And what GO Campaign does is it helps provide meals, essential school supplies, masks, hand sanitizers and much more for children and families who are in need, all around the world.
John: How can people support this cause?
Orit: Go online and search http://www.IgotVaxxedApparel.com or go on Instagram or Facebook and search for IGV_Apparel and then you’ll find all the information – especially some of the work we’re doing to help end COVID-19 with various community groups. Wear the clothes with your family, post a picture, lead by example, and have fun doing it!