View online edition


Eye on the Future

With 2020 hindsight, residents reveal their hopes for 2021.

by Ahmad Graves-El

The year 2020 could conceivably go down in history as one of the roughest years that humankind has ever experienced. The events that took place last year will not be rehashed in this article and as current events show, we’re definitely not out of the woods yet.

However, for local residents, and many others, 2020 was a year that gave them a chance to look inward, reflect on how they’ve been living their lives, and discover how they can make positive changes in the future.

SNJ Today had the opportunity to speak to several area community members and ask them about their New Year’s resolutions for 2021, how they’ll achieve their stated goals, and what they learned about themselves and others, last year.

* * *

What We Asked

The questions we posed to our participants are:
1. What are your New Year’s Resolutions/Intentions for 2021?
2. What steps will you take to achieve those resolutions/intentions?
3. 2020 was, obviously, a challenging year for many. Is there anything you learned about yourself last year that will help you become a better human being in the present and the future?

* * *

JT Burks, TV show host at Catching Up with Coach, president of Positive Vibes Community Group, public works supervisor, and more – Millville resident

1. My resolutions and intentions are to bring more sustainable programming that focuses on the long-term well-being of youth and adults. It is also to be more focused and more healthy.

2. I will do more research on personal development, youth development, network with other organizations, survey students, parents and the youth we serve via the connections I have with Lakeside Middle School, my seat on the Cumberland County TEC board and as president of my nonprofit, Positive Vibes Community Group.

3. 2020 has taught me perseverance, how to take more personal accountability, how to lead with more love, grace, and mercy.

Dawn Hunter, executive director, Greater Vineland Chamber of Commerce – Vineland resident

1. To enjoy every day and stay positive.

2. I will strive to stay in the moment and avoid spending energy on things that are outside my sphere of influence.

3. I learned that I have a lot of patience and I am willing to sacrifice for the better good of our world.

Frank Carozza, Cumberland County Youth Services Administrator – Vineland resident

1. I have multiple goals for 2021, some more ambitious than others. What I’ve decided to make my New Year’s resolution is changing the approach in how I will achieve them. Slow and steady wins this race.

2. I plan to remain alert about changes in my environment, but not anxious about what I cannot control. I plan to seek the guidance of the amazing mentors I’ve had the great fortune of meeting over the years and trust my intuition and spiritual compass.

3. 2020 showed me that we as humans are truly resilient. This isn’t the first pandemic in history, and it most likely won’t be the last. Love your fellow brother and sister if you wish to be loved. Love begets love—and love can conquer all adversity.

Therese (Trace) Carrozzino, spiritual advisor, reiki practitioner, sound alchemist at Intuitive Holistix South Jersey – Pittsgrove resident

1. New Year’s resolutions/intentions for 2021 would be to take care of mind, body, and spirit as a unit/whole instead of focusing on one area at a time. I’ve already signed up for a meditation challenge, started at a new Brazillian jiu-jitsu school, and started doing yoga more frequently.

2. To be a better human in the present and the future requires dedication and discipline. It’s hard to focus on the now when the mind is worried. So, checking self back into center has to become a regular habit. Sometimes we fall off and that’s fine; begin again, as many times as you need to.

3. 2020 taught me that I’m in charge of my life and if I’m not satisfied with anything in it (people, places, things) it’s okay to change. Boundaries are important and they don’t have to be mean.

Isaiah Showell, news correspondent at Follow South Jersey – Pleasantville resident

1. I don’t have resolutions, but I do have goals and my goal is to write out my plans that I have for this year. I keep a lot of stuff in my head, so I want to actually put some thoughts to paper.

2. Gotta focus, man, and have someone to keep me accountable for what it is I say I want to do.

3. I know that I’m a passionate person and I don’t really need many people to motivate me; I’m self-motivated. And when it’s time for me to be quiet, I need to take that time. That quiet space is important.

Natalie Vargas, owner, Peace Love Yoga Studios – Vineland resident

1. Quality relationships with my family. [Also,] I’m definitely working on actually making my circle smaller and giving more quality to the relationships I have versus having a quantity of relationships.

2. Asking my kids [and my husband]: “How do you feel about our relationship?” “How can I be a better mom?” “How can I be a better wife?” “What do you need from me?” Even if I don’t want to hear it, or I disagree, I’m willing to love how they need me to love instead of the way I need to love.

3. I learned how much I love my family, how lucky and how happy I am to have three kids and a husband. It would have been a really lonely quarantine. Every day I woke up saying, “I’m so happy I have you guys.” We’re playing games, [they were there] to cook for, and to keep warm and watch all these Netflix shows … I just really thought, man, I am super lucky that I have three kids.

Carol Federici, retired high school chemistry teacher, Vineland Historical and Antiquarian Society Board president – Vineland resident

1. I want to become more mindful, to listen more and to keep in touch with my friends around the country during the year, not just at Christmas.

2. I am sure this will be a work-in-progress all year long. My goal is to write at least two letters, notes or cards each month. I am going with the Post Office with this instead of e-mail. Becoming more mindful is probably a greater challenge. I plan to start by looking at things more positively and trying to focus on what I am doing at the time. Listening more when I am with people seems like part of that.

3. The most important thing I learned is how very blessed I am. My husband and I are staying healthy, warm, well-fed, keeping busy and happy to be at home. I am more grateful for technology that has allowed us to stay connected to family and friends that we no longer see as frequently as we did before Covid. I am grateful for simple things and appreciate small acts of kindness.

When I went to pay at the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through and the person ahead of me had paid for my coffee, I smiled all day. I hope that I will continue to be more grateful and kinder to everyone.

Melissa Helmbrecht, founder at Hopeloft, executive director at Give Something Back, executive director at CASA of Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties – South Jersey resident

1. My New Year’s resolution/intention for 2021 is to commit to a “year of service” to my neighbors and community. So many children, families, businesses, organizations, and agencies are struggling in ways that no one could have ever imagined. It feels overwhelming, but we can play a role in helping our neighbors and community recover. Getting involved in the community improves our mental health, it brightens our days, it gives people hope, and it creates momentum in our own lives for positive change.

2. I will keep it simple and ask everyday: “What can I do to help someone today?” “What may be an unsolvable problem that is keeping someone up at night?” Ask the question every day and follow-through on at least one act of kindness.

3. 2020 reminded me that we all have a role to play in helping our neighbors thrive. My well-being is tied to the well-being of everyone around me. “I am my brother’s keeper” has evolved from being a lofty ideal into an absolute call-to-action as we each play a role in the safety and well-being of everyone around us. Understanding this on a deeper level will likely have ripple effects that are positive across my life and relationships for years to come.

Mayor Anthony Fanucci, City of Vineland

1. I would have to say I did not make any formal resolutions this year. But my enduring hope for the New Year, like everyone else, is that we are able to reach the end of this pandemic that has affected millions around the world so that we can fully relaunch the economy and help those who have lost jobs get back to work.

2. Our community has worked hard and come together to support each other through the challenges of 2020. Even in the face of the many difficulties, I have been heartened by the resiliency and perseverance of our small businessowners, and the steady growth of our industrial sector. As we look to the new year, we will continue to move forward on economic development, and infrastructure improvement programs, while remaining budget-conscious and mindful of our duty to spend tax dollars wisely.

3. Yes, it has been a difficult test for all of us. For me personally, it reinforced my belief that life cannot just be about work, or ambition, or even success. In the end, relationships are truly what matters most, and that means devoting quality time to what is most important—family, friends, and loved ones.