SMDF Builds Home for Shelter Resident

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SMDF Builds Home for Shelter Resident

St. Maarten Development Fund (SMDF) continued its efforts to support St. Maarten’s senior community when it handed over a new concrete home to Junior Cannegieter. Sixty-two-year-old Cannegieter lost his entire home and belongings with the passing of hurricane Irma. The longtime resident of Cay Bay, Cannegieter was forced to leave the only environment he had known for years to enter temporary spaces.

In the weeks immediately after the hurricane, Cannegieter moved into the Festival Village and later the Little League Stadium before entering the Transitional Facility earlier this year. It was his time at the Transitional Facility that brought Cannegieter to the attention of SMDF. Upon admitting Cannegieter to the Transitional Facility, the staff of the Dr. J. Foundation contacted SMDF as Cannegieter met the requirements to be included in the Senior Relief Project.

When receiving the keys for his new home, Cannegieter thanked everyone involved. The senior who worked for many years in hospitality, including a time at Mullet Bay Resort, was elated as he opened the door to his new home. He is the Senior Project’s second beneficiary from the Transitional Facility. 

Explaining how SMDF came to the assistance of Cannegieter, SMDF Managing Director shared that Social Workers Dorian Neijs and Cerasela Sommersall of Dr. J. Foundation visited the office to seek assistance for Cannegieter and acted as reliable liaisons throughout the construction process. “Partnerships and open relationships is the key to identifying and supporting St. Maarten’s most vulnerable,” said Franca. He extended a thank you to Dr. Judith Arndell and the staff of Dr. J. Foundation for their efforts, particularly with Cannegieter and fellow home recipient Ernest Roumou.  

Continuing the spirit of partnership, Franca also thanked the Dutch Ministry of Kingdom and Interior Relations, represented by Chris Johnson, for the strong working relationship. Johnson, who was present at the small ceremony, said that the project was an example of how collaboration could benefit the people of St. Maarten. With members of Cannegieter’s family on hand to witness the handover, Johnson said that it was a pleasure to be able to support Mr. Cannegieter to ensure that he could rest easily without worry for his safety. “It is a pleasure to be able to contribute to the rebuilding of a home and a life for a son of the soil,” closed Johnson.

SMDF is nearing the completion of its senior relief project. With 36 more construction and repair projects to close, the Fund will be transitioning to small repair works to make the homes of identified seniors more accessible. 

In photo: SMDF Managing Director Keith Franca presents Junior Cannegieter to the keys of his new home with Dutch Representative in Philipsburg Chris Johnson and SMDF Technical Advisor Joseph Dollison present.