SMDF Hands Over Homes to Seniors

SMDF Hands Over Homes to Seniors

It was a great day in St. Peters as the St. Maarten Development Fund (SMDF) and the Dutch Ministry of Kingdom and Interior Relations (BZK) officially presented two newly constructed and renovated homes to Ernest Roumou and Esther Kivilier respectively. On hand for the handovers were Robert-Jan der Wilde of the Office of the Dutch Representative in Philipsburg, SMDF Managing Director Keith Franca and Chairlady of SMDF’s Supervisory Board Richelda Emmanuel. At the small handover ceremony, the representatives of both organizations welcomed the two seniors to their new accommodations.

For St. Peters stalwart, Ernest ‘Sugarboy’ Roumou, it was a day to enter a brand-new home after 11 months of temporary living. Hurricane Irma’s winds completed destroyed the home and left nothing but foundation and rubble where a house once stood. The destruction sent the 85-year-old to the Festival Village, the Little League Stadium and later the Transitional Residential Facility. Receiving his newly constructed concrete home, Roumou was visibly emotional. As the appreciative senior took in the day, he quietly thanked those responsible for his new home. Citing his many years of championing St. Peters, Chairlady of SMDF’s Supervisory Board Richelda Emmanuel thanked Roumou for his unwavering dedication to calling out for positive change in his community. Similarly, SMDF Managing Director Keith Franca shared that it was a proud moment for the project to handover a new home to a person that had resided in the same home as long as Roumou did. 

Just around the corner from Roumou, Esther Kivilier was settling in nicely to her newly renovated home. One of St. Peter’s oldest residents, Kivilier was all smiles as she welcomed her visitors. The 94-year old who was brought to SMDF’s attention by the Department of Community Affairs, had been living in her home for decades and was in need of renovation assistance. Through SMDF’s Elderly Project, she was able to have her house adjusted to her needs.

On behalf of the Dutch Government, Robert-Jan der Wilde welcomed the seniors to their homes. “We hope that your homes will be a place of comfort, where you can feel safe and without worry,” said de Wilde. 

In his remarks to the small group, Franca reiterated SMDF’s dedication to supporting seniors and thanked the Government of the Netherlands for making the funds available for the project. Additionally, he also extended thanks to the Joseph Dollison, the Technical Supervisor of the Housing component of the Elderly Project as well as the two contractors responsible for the projects Main Road Construction and Roland Arrindell. 

Thus far, SMDF has completed works to 40 homes, including 7 new concrete homes. In the coming two months, the Fund will be executing works to 28 homes. Of these 28 homes, 6 will be new fully concrete structures.

In photo: An emotional Ernest Roumou looks on as Robert-Jan der Wilde of the Office of the Dutch Representative in Philipsburg, SMDF Managing Director Keith Franca and SMDF Supervisory Board Chairlady Richelda Emmanuel cut the ribbon to welcome him to his new home.