Feel-Good Stories From Our Readers Proving 2020 Wasn’t All Bad

2020 has been many things, and it can be difficult to find the positives in a sea of sadness, fear, and frustration, but the happy stories are out there, and with the help out of wonderful Hoboken Girl readers, we’ve compiled a list of short feel-good stories from 2020. Read on to learn about the incredible milestones and beautiful moments these locals had this year in the midst of a global pandemic — that will surely give us some hope for 2021 to be looking brighter.

A Wedding, Despite the Odds

Ashley Jacklyn

“I got married to my best friend, Brian on October 31st, 2020. Brian and I have known each other since we were in grammar school {5th grade to be exact} so we have been waiting for the day where we can say our “I Dos”. Unfortunately, Covid came and destroyed our dream wedding {which realizing now, doesn’t matter as much as all the lives lost and changed}. But it still was hard. We lost money and our venue kept all of the money, but we kept pushing forward and decided to have a lovely autumn wedding in Central Park on Halloween with our family and friends. 2020 took so much from everyone but the one thing it couldn’t take was our love. We wish everyone happiness, health, and hope for the beautiful new year.” ~ Ashley Jacklyn

Read More: An Intimate Hoboken Wedding at Bin 14

Connecting With Their Roots

“This year I reconnected with my Jewish heritage. My dad is Jewish but my parents are divorced so I wasn’t raised Jewishly. This is something I have always been curious about and this year I decided to do something about it. Back in January my husband joined me in taking a course at the Center for Exploring Judaism at Central Synagogue in the city. Then in March, classes moved online when everything shut down. The weekly Zoom meeting became a bright spot during an otherwise dark time. I couldn’t be happier that I decided to take this course. It helped me realize that I’ve been Jewish all along and it gave me the tools I needed to carry on the traditions for my family. I feel more connected to my roots, my faith, my dad, and even my gentile husband because of it. I do count this as a win for me in 2020. ~ Alexandra Daly

Getting That Degree

Jamie Schoenbach

I’m currently teaching year six as a 4th-grade teacher in New Brunswick. I am a four-year Hoboken resident and a newly Masters Degree recipient. I got my degree in the amid the pandemic in May from Montclair State University in Educational Leadership. I graduated with honors: Magma Cum Laude and with a new wealth of knowledge to further my career path. It took me about three years, and to be honest, I was so looking forward to walking across the stage to get my degree and when I found out that wasn’t going to be able to happen, I was pretty bummed. Turns out that nothing could have deterred the amount of pride and joy I felt on my graduation day, stage, or no stage. I worked incredibly hard through a full-time job and classes while paying out of pocket to work towards a new career goal. I’m so incredibly blessed to have gone through all of it and this degree is most definitely a highlight of 2020!” ~ Jamie Schoenbach

A Slew of Good Things

I had a busy year! Started off earning my M.A.T. with a specialization in special education and early childhood education from Montclair State in January. I got engaged on March 1st on the roof of my building after having dinner at our favorite restaurant looking over the western skyline. Then, once I was stuck in my 700 sq ft apt with my fiancé, we realized we didn’t want to wait so we planned a micro wedding in 5 weeks and we got married on August 8th. The last great thing this year was that I changed jobs to an amazing school district with fantastic coworkers. While I left a great school in Hoboken, I am so excited so 2021! So many good things this year for me!” ~Leslie Baez

See More: Babka Bailout: A Mission to Help a Friend in Need Through Delicious Treats

Landing on Entrepreneurship

sugarfy it

{Photo credit: @sugarfy_it}

“In 2020, quarantined, my sister, and I decided to finally make our dream come true and start a candy charcuterie company that we have always spoken about. We took our time at home {doing nothing} and turned it into Sugarfy It! making custom candy trays and boxes. We didn’t know where it would go but it was something to do that we had fun with. Since April, we got have expanded into new products, grown our customer base, and done outdoor boutiques. It was definitely something good and unexpected to come from this year!” ~Lexie Boydman

Opening a Business After Leaving a Toxic Work Environment

hoboken jengo

{Photo credit: @hobokenjengo}

“I’m a resident of Hoboken, NJ since April of 2019. My partner and I found our forever dream home in this community and have never looked back. He is originally from Charleroi, Belgium, and I’m from Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic. 2020 has been a trying period, to say the least, on many fronts. In my personal life, my mother was diagnosed with cancer and went through chemotherapy, surgeries, radiation, and a successful miraculous recovery all in one year. In May, I left an increasingly toxic work environment to focus on my love for pets and sustainability by opening hobokenjengo.com, an online eco-pet shop in Hoboken. My other business venture, Women of Color Collective in Sustainability, proved to be a safe space for WOC to feel seen and celebrated in the industry. My social life was reduced to a bubble of my partner, my mother, our cats Tupac and Biggie, and our adorable and much-needed puppy Jengo. Jointly, we protested in a way or another against injustices, and through it all, even in the darkest hour, we found ways to cheer each other up and create memories. Finally, if this year has taught me anything, it is that life is not guaranteed, good change is inevitable, and Tik Tok is here to stay to make everyone cringe and cry happy tears at every relatable millennial trend.” ~ Jordana Vasquez

A Deployment Ending + a Wedding

Molly Mansbach

MM: After years apart and a one year tour of duty in South Korea, my fiancé {now husband} finally came home for good. He finished his time in the Army as an officer and we were able to start our next chapter of finally being together, in the same state, for good! On August 8th, we had a small wedding at West Point surrounded by our family and bridal party. It was the happiest moment of our lives…brought to us by 2020! ~ Molly Mansbach

Starting a New Venture in Hoboken

thatzkoththu

{Photo credit: @thatzkoththu}

The lockdown gave me the time and opportunity to work on my 10-year dream of bringing the quintessential Sri Lankan street food “Koththu Roti” to the US market. I grew up right across a roadside Koththu shop that was open 365x24x7 on a busy street in Kandy, Sri Lanka. Eating Koththu is a multi-sensory experience of sight, smell, and sound. Opening the windows of our 2nd-floor apartment would allow you to experience this delight every night and this childhood experience is etched into my memory. As I started to enjoy global cuisines while living in different parts of the world from Minneapolis to Munich to Toronto to New York, the idea of blending these unique world flavors with Koththu started to take shape. This idea evolved with every city I moved to and finally became a reality in Hoboken as the ThatzKoththu concept in 2020. My wife & I spent the summer of 2020 with our “covid bubble” of friends as Guinea pigs, on our rooftop terrace trying new flavors and perfecting the previous weekend’s winners. We experimented with Ethiopian, Korean, Italian, Caribbean, Mexican, Indian, Thai, Szechuan and of course various Sri Lankan flavors. Due to restrictions on indoor dining, we launched ThatzKoththu for curbside pickup on select days this fall. Though 2020 was a tough year with the difficulties brought on by the pandemic, Thatzkoththu turned out to be our silver lining through it all.” ~ Thatparan Somasundaram

Adopting a Puppy from the ASPCA

Caytie Silvera

“Through the craziness and stress that has been a major theme of 2020, our wonderful pup Lilah has been a shining bright light of joy through it all! We adopted Lilah, a now 9-month-old rescue chihuahua mix from ASPCA at the start of October. Learning the ropes of being new puppy parents has been a welcome distraction and challenge as well as introduced us to a Hoboken community and brought us to explore our small city in a new and special way.  We’ve had the chance to support new local pet businesses-shoutout to Playful Pups and Cornerstone pets, and to explore new areas of Hoboken on the hunt for dog parks and new puppy friends.” ~ Caytie Silvera

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Written by:

Victoria is HG's Associate Editor and Social Media Coordinator for the Hoboken Historical Museum + Fire Department Museum. She is a fourth-generation Hoboken native, BNR in the Mile Square, and Jersey City. Through playing softball in town for fourteen years, playing the trumpet for the Hoboken High School Redwings Band, and graduating from New Jersey City University, these two cities have a special place in her heart. When she isn’t Style Assisting or volunteering at Symposia Bookstore, she’s exploring everything the Concrete Jungle has to offer. You can catch her at art exhibitions, local festivities, traveling, diving into a new book, thrifting, or indulging in some form of arts and crafts.