SMDF Purchases Buses For Helping Hands Foundation

SMDF Purchases Buses For Helping Hands Foundation

Moving full speed ahead with its senior relief program, the St. Maarten Development Fund (SMDF) took its first towards Alleviating the Living Conditions of the Elderly via the purchase of four new buses for the Helping Hands Foundation. With transportation being one of the main challenges articulated by many of the program’s 350 senior beneficiaries, SMDF made it a priority to procure new buses for one of St. Maarten’s longest running senior transportation and outreach organizations. At the handover presentation which took place on October 16, SMDF Director Keith Franca, along with Head of Dutch Civil Mission in St. Maarten Erwin Arkenbout and Dutch Government Representative in Philipsburg (VNP) Chris Johnson, presented the keys to the buses to Helping Hands President Commander Antonio Rogers, Vice President Josianne Fleming, Board Member Monica Salmone-Simeon, the foundation’s founder Jacqueline James and the foundation’s bus drivers

Franca who spoke proudly of the occasion, called it a monumental development to social development and particularly senior care – one of SDMF’s thematic work areas. Upon handing over the keys, Franca recounted Helping Hands’ twenty years as a senior transportation service and spoke confidently that the organization would make excellent use of the vehicles. Franca went on to thank the Dutch Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations for making the remaining AMFO funds available to St. Maarten and Johnson for the open channels of communication throughout the procurement process.

Receiving the keys, Rogers expressed a heartfelt thank you to Franca for SMDF’s longstanding support of Helping Hands Foundation and the donation of the buses. Rogers also thanked SMDF for the jumpstart of transportation for the elderly and renewed the organization’s commitment to developing and expanding transportation services for the elderly throughout the community. Continuing to express Helping Hands’ appreciation, Rogers thanked Johnson for the support of his office and that of the Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations for making the senior relief program’s funds available to St. Maarten Development Fund. Johnson, who has been the Dutch Representative in Philipsburg since the inception of the senior relief program, spoke of his office’s commitment to all actions within the senior relief project including the expansion of senior transportation. “Theses buses have come at the crucial time following the passing and destruction caused by hurricane Irma,” said Johnson. “The VNP will continue to support this program as there are even more needs throughout St. Maarten,” he continued.

In speaking of the process to acquire the four buses, Franca thanked Nissan and Saint Martin Cars for its generous support through the reduced pricing of the buses. “Thanks to Mr. Raymond Vialenc of Saint Martin Cars, we were able to purchase four vehicles rather than three because of the excellent price reduction,” said Franca. The next phase of SMDF’s rejuvenation of Helping Hands Foundation is the setting up of a new office for the organization as its previous office was destroyed by hurricane Irma, leaving them without a suitable work space or equipment. Concurrently, SMDF will also continue with the execution of the additional components of its senior relief program which will include home repairs and other forms of support for the elderly.

In photo: SMDF Director Keith Franca (4th from right), flanked by Head of Dutch Civil Mission Erwin Arkenbout, Dutch Representative in Philipsburg  Chris Johnson and SMDF Program and Development Manager Makhicia Brooks, presenting keys to Helping Hands President Antonio Rogers (5th from right) flanked by Vice President Josianne Fleming, Board Member Monica Salome-Simeon, Helping Hands Founder Jacqueline James and Helping Hands bus drivers. (Elvis Harrigan photo)