~ Celebrating its years of unwavering dedication with a new look and path for the future ~
PHILIPSBURG – Taking a moment to acknowledge its efforts throughout 2020 and the first half of 2021, the St. Maarten Development Fund (SMDF), is celebrating nine fruitful and exciting years of existence. Along with this anniversary celebration, the organization is also launching its new look including a modern logo and revamped social media accounts and website.
The new look captures the organization’s commitment to cradling and nurturing a brighter St. Maarten, where its people can grow into their full potential through targeted social development initiatives. Though the official look may be changing, SMDF’s unwavering dedication remains at the heart of the organization’s work. With the continued support of its public and private sector partners, SMDF will continue its work to improve the lives of St. Maarten’s most vulnerable groups as it has always done.
While 2020 was a year of unexpected challenges, it was also a year of unexpected growth. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, SMDF pivoted its efforts to manage new programs without so much as a second thought. With the country’s economy devastated, wages plummeting and unemployment skyrocketing, SMDF managed the Income and Unemployment Support programs within St. Maarten Stimulus & Relief Plan (SSRP) on behalf of the Government of Sint Maarten. Since its inception, the program has provided financial relief for hundreds of persons struggling to survive and overcome the fallout of the pandemic.
Similarly, SMDF’s COVID response activities also had the organization serving as a Coordinator of the Collective Food Program, which supported 4,800 households by means of hot meals, food boxes, and e-vouchers. In the coming weeks, SMDF will continue to coordinate and provide food support to these persons collaboratively with its NGO partners.
Social development is a dynamic and ongoing process that requires constant assessment of the needs of the community and the ability to respond through creative initiatives that fill voids as they appear. Through its Workforce Development Program (W4D), SMDF created a free opportunity for learning for over 400 persons. Education has long been one of the key means of improving one’s income and quality of life. With so many unable to follow traditional learning programs, the initiative launched with e-learning platform Coursera, gave residents a chance to learn new skills and better equip themselves to reenter the workforce while at home during the less than active economic year.
In addition to its programmatic developments, the year 2020 was one of transition for the organization with the retirement of its first leadership. In December 2019, SMDF’s first Managing Director Keith Franca retired, passing the helm to Makhicia Brooks as of January 1, 2020. Similarly, in May 2020, incorporators Richelda Emmanuel-Rodriguez, Joy Arnell, and Marinka Gumbs all retired at the end of their two terms making way for new Supervisory Board Members Louisian Wathey, Zuleima Violenus-Salmon, and Claudette Labega-Forsythe who join Zylena Bary and Ahmed Bell.
Needless to say, without collaboration, SMDF can neither fund nor execute projects to the extent it does now. Thus, SMDF would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all the organizations that have been along with us through this journey, including but not limited to: associated NGOs, donors and partners, the Government of Sint Maarten, Windward Islands Bank, the Ministry of BZK, NAGICO, and the Netherlands Red Cross.
As the organization goes through its tenth year, it will be doing so with the steadfastness and optimism necessary to development work. With St. Maarten and its people at the heart of its work, SMDF will continue to find innovative ways to fulfill its mission of Contributing to a Society that Cares.