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52nd SHTA Annual General Meeting Highlights Opportunities for Economic Growth

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On Thursday June 23rd, 2022, the SHTA held its Annual General Meeting, hosted by Carl’s Unique Inn.

Members came together to hear an address of the sitting President Paul Henriquez on the state of the economy and its recovery from both Irma and the pandemic.

The presentation focused on GDP Value Added, defined as:

The value added of an industry, also referred to as gross domestic product (GDP)-by-industry, is the contribution of a private industry or government sector to overall GDP. The components of value added consist of compensation of employees, taxes on production and imports, less subsidies, and gross operating surplus.

A comparison was drawn between Sint Maarten and Aruba for 2016, the last pre-crisis year for Sint Maarten. Sint Maarten’s official GDP statistics show some peculiar developments. These were tested using Aruba as a benchmark. There is ample reason to question the official GDP statistics.

Statistically speaking, Sint Maarten seems to be much more productive than Aruba per tourism dollar spent, reflected in the much higher GDP per capita. This is difficult to reconcile with the situation on the ground.

One issue appears to be the overestimation of tourism expenditure. Tourism expenditure, as reported by the CBCS in their Balance of Payment statistics, is higher than the tourism exit surveys indicate.

Another issue, from the exit surveys it also becomes clear that the spending on the French Side is being attributed to the Dutch Side. This is methodological, easily verifiable and when corrected leads to substantially lower tourism spend.

We know Aruba to have a significantly higher REVPar as well as a much higher stayover to cruise ratio. This makes it extremely unlikely that St Maarten can be more than twice as productive with the same tourist dollar spent.

shta Picture7 stayover cruise GDP.jpg

It appears that both GDP and Value added per sector are woefully overvalued. There are risks associated with overvaluation since both Debt/GDPand Tax/GDP ratios are as much dependent on an accurate gdp number as debt or tax income. Within the framework of the COHO and reform agenda success is contingent on having good GDP statistics. We need to make sure that wishful thinking doesn’t cause a too high tax estimation to turn into debt.

There is a big difference in what you can afford to finance as an economy if your VA added is 1.9 Billion or 2.7 billion. The Official GDP dataset has seen a 42% increase in just 3 years. This has never been substantiated and in fact the IMF is using significantly lower projections.


The benchmarking analysis did offer one very positive point.

Regardless of what our official statistics indicate that GDP is or isn’t. The simple fact is that in reality we are underperforming Aruba. We are sitting on a lot of empty hotel rooms that could be turned into productive capacity.

shta Picture6 room daily 2.png

Technically there is room for increasing Stayover Tourism by 61%, for May 2022 that would have meant almost 40000 additional room nights, for the wider economy that means, 61% more meals, 61% more shopping and tours, 61% work and jobs, 61% more rented cars, 61% more tax revenues etc.

All this can be achieved by adequately marketing Sint Maarten. There is no investment needed in increasing capacity.

In comparing St. Maarten to arguably the region's best destination in terms of utilizing productive capacity, St. Maarten spends approximately $3 in marketing per hotel room night where Aruba spends $17. Sint Maarten’s REVPar amounts to about $100. Aruba’s REVPar amounts to over $180

Aruba consistently drives up demand and thus their REVPar value is almost double that of St. Maarten leaving a further 40% underutilized capacity. In order to change these two critical indices and increase our productive capacity for the benefit of everyone the SHTA argues that there is no better time to put in place a Public-Private Destination Marketing Organization, possibly copy pasting the Aruba legislative structure, in order to facilitate real destination marketing, putting unused capacity into use immediately! To the extent that this cannot be achieved in a structural partnership as we have been advocating for years on end, the SHTA urged its members to join together with them in creating a private sector destination Marketing plan to increase our productive capacity and reap the potential spin off rewards of increased jobs, income, trade, taxes, dinners, tours, gambling etc.

The fact that our official statistics like GDP appear to be estimated way too high, combined with the need to finance reforms and service debt, it seems logical that we at the very least invest in putting idle capacity to use, in order to generate the required value and funds.

Other agenda points were the new term Board postulations, A year in review of the activities of the association.

The SHTA is dedicated to bringing quality to all aspects of life on St. Maarten by promoting sustainable economic development for its members in cooperation with the social partners and the creation of a fair marketplace. For more information, please contact our offices at 542-0108 or visit our website at www.shta.com.

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Dangerous armed robbery suspect arrested. Suspect shot while Attempting to Evade Police

SINT MAARTEN (CAY BAY) -The Forensics Department, along with National Detective personnel, are investigating an incident that occurred this morning, June 28, 2022, at approximately 11:00 a.m. on Cay-Bay Road, during which a dangerous suspect was apprehended.

The suspect, against whom an extradition warrant has been issued in connection with the commission of multiple armed robberies, also attempted to evade arrest.

In his attempt to flee, the suspect rammed two police vehicles, as a result of the suspect's actions, the police were forced to fire several shots at the suspect. The suspect suffered a gunshot wound and was subsequently apprehended by the police.

After his arrest, ambulance staff administered first aid to the suspect, who was later transported to St. Maarten Medical Center. The investigation is ongoing. (KPSM)

police ambulances leaving the scene

police two ambul on the scene cay bay

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CBCS: Strong economic rebound in 2021. War and inflation hamper recovery in 2022

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Following a deep contraction in 2020 brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and related strict containment measures, the Centrale Bank van Curaçao en Sint Maarten (CBCS) estimates in its June 2022 Economic Bulletin that economic activity rebounded strongly across the monetary union in 2021, with real GDP growing by 5.0% in Curaçao and 8.6% in Sint Maarten.

“The strong economic rebound was driven primarily by a sustained pick-up in stay-over tourism, especially in the second half of 2021. Stay-over tourism arrivals in both Curaçao and Sint Maarten recovered at a much faster pace than initially expected as containment measures, among other things, were gradually eased,” noted CBCS president Richard Doornbosch.

“The 2021 growth estimate therefore represents a significant upward revision from the real GDP expansion of 2.0% for Curaçao and 4.5% for Sint Maarten presented in the March 2022 Economic Bulletin,” he pointed out.

“Furthermore, the CBCS’s latest projections indicate that economic recovery will continue across the monetary union in 2022. In both Curaçao and Sint Maarten, economic growth will be underpinned largely by a sustained recovery of tourism activities, including the normalization of cruise tourism, and increased private investments, such as commercial and residential projects,” Doornbosch explained.

“The outlook is clouded, however, by heightened geopolitical tensions because of the war in Ukraine, which is exerting further upward pressure on already elevated commodity prices in international markets. As Curaçao and Sint Maarten are highly dependent on imports, higher import prices will push up inflation and, consequently, curb purchasing power across the monetary union,” the CBCS president cautioned.

It is against this background the CBCS revised its 2022 growth forecast downward for Curaçao and Sint Maarten to 5.2% and 6.2%, respectively, from the outlook presented in March 2022. Meanwhile, inflation in Curaçao is expected to rise significantly from 2.2% in 2021 to 6.1% in 2022. In Sint Maarten also, inflation is projected to accelerate to 5.9% in 2022 from 2.8% in 2021.

Additionally, the CBCS expects that the pace of recovery will moderate somewhat over the medium term. For 2023, a real GDP growth of 3.0% is projected for Curaçao and 3.9% for Sint Maarten. Although still elevated, inflationary pressures are expected to dissipate in 2023, consistent with lower projected inflation in the monetary union’s main trading partner, the United States.

“In line with the projected economic growth, the fiscal stance in both countries is expected to improve, with the fiscal deficit and debt-to-GDP ratio gradually declining over the medium term,” CBCS president Richard Doornbosch concluded.

The complete text of the June 2022 Economic Bulletin is available on the CBCS website at www.centralbank.cw/publications.

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Consider this: Timeline (2)

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - This article is the second in a series of essays written by Dr. Nilda Arduin to commemorate 1 July 1863, the Abolition of slavery within the Dutch Kingdom) - July 2022

According to the Dutch Constitution of 1815, enacted after the Netherlands became a Monarchy, the Dutch Kingdom encompassed the Netherlands and a few colonies and assets of the State (volksplantingen en bezittingen van het rijk’). Let’s take a look at what happened since 1 July 1863. Consider the following timeline:

  • 1863: Abolition of Slavery
  • 1922: The Dutch Constitution included not only the European territory, but also Indonesia, Suriname and Curaçao (and its dependencies)

The pertinent institutions in these territories obtained limited powers to regulate their internal affairs. Holland, the motherland of the colonists, had an obligation towards her people stationed in the overseas territories.

  • 1939-1945: World War II

During the war Queen Wilhelmina in exile announced a Kingdom conference to discuss new relationships between the Kingdom partners. The Netherlands was seeking to further strengthen ties with their largest colony, Indonesia, noting the importance of economic, political and so called interpersonal contacts. However, the Netherlands could no longer play its former role.

  • 1947 (August 17): The Republik Indonesia declared itself independent from the Netherlands.
  • 1950: Interim Regulation Netherlands Antilles, a prelude to the Charter, including the right of self-determination for the islands, further outlined in the Island Regulation (ERNA).

The Island Regulation introduced the formula of ‘general interest of the Kingdom’; followed and further outlined in article 50 of the Charter, which includes supervision.

  • 1954: Enactment of the Charter, which was in principal meant to be an agreement between Indonesia and the Dutch Kingdom (the Netherlands, Suriname and Netherland Antilles).

Reviewing the socio-economic and political history of the relationships within the Kingdom in the period 1954-2022 is vital to understand how we reached where we are today, and understand what we did, or did not do adequately as partners within the Dutch Kingdom to resolve continued conflicts. Who were the negotiators around the table leading up to the enactment of the Charter, if general voting rights to include the descendants of the former enslaved Africans was obtained only in 1948.

  • 1969-1974: Awareness Movements on Curaçao and Sint Maarten.
  • 1970: The first Afro-Dutch governor (B.M. Leito) appointed for the Netherlands Antilles.
  • 1983: The Windward Islands became three separate territories (Sint Maarten, Saba, Statia).
  • 1986: Aruba left the Netherlands Antilles to obtain a separate status.
  • 1993-1996: Sint Maarten placed under preventative Higher Supervision.
  • 1994-2000: Attempts to reconstruct and keep the Netherlands Antilles together.
  • 2010: The Netherlands Antilles dismantled; Sint Maarten and Curaçao obtained autonomy pursuant to the Island Regulation of 1950 (ERNA).

Up to 2010 Sint Maarten only had formal representation within the Dutch Kingdom via the Netherlands Antilles.

Whether interested, indifferent or even somewhat hostile towards each other, the intra-regional connection within the Dutch Kingdom is a fact with international consequences. The few colonies and assets of the State became equal partners.

Consider the following actions and discussion points:

  • Explore the transition to self-governance in the Caribbean parts of the Dutch Kingdom after the enactment of the Charter.
  • Have we heeded and consciously acted upon the lessons learned from; the Awareness Movements of May 1969 on Curaçao, August 1974 on Sint Maarten, and the preventative Higher Supervision on Sint Maarten in the nineties?
  • Proper education is an important condition in the development of any country. How can the population/households be mobilized to take advantage of education possibilities offered online in the absence of widely available higher education on Sint Maarten?
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Mid Isle donates to the Funtopia Youth Initiative Foundation

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On June 25th, 2022, the Rotary Club of Sint Maarten- Mid Isle, donated USD $600 to the Funtopia Youth Initiative Foundation (FYIF). FYIF provides creative youth development training in afterschool programs for young children ages 5 to 12.

FYIF’s purpose is to manage and/or operate an artistic sporting facility for the personal development of the youth and autistic children in general, and in that context to provide educational and fitness activities, including social development, swimming, literature, and sports in general. FYIF focusses on skill development, social activities, and cultural development.

This project was initially instated as a part of UNESCO Sint Maarten and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport of the Government of Sint Maarten, who aim to stimulate local institutions to engage in the preservation of the intangible cultural heritage attributes of Sint Maarten.

With the assistance of R4CR the project will be expanding to have a larger impact in the community. The donated funds will be used for the much-needed stilts, for FYIF’s existing Stilt Walking Program.

Present at the presentation were President Wayne Wilkie and Service Projects Chair Grace/IPP Linger. Representing the FYIF to receive the funds was Founder and President of the FYIF, Lucinda Audain. This presentation was possible because a generous donation of one of Mid Isle’s Honorary Members, Willem Barendsen. Ms. Lucinda Audain expressed her gratitude for assisting the FYIF financially.

The Rotary Club of Sint Maarten- Mid Isle would like to wish the Funtopia Youth Initiative Foundation much success and hopes that they can continue their good work in the community for many more years to come.

 

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CPS COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Open June 30. Three days Available for Vaccines in the First Week of July

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Collective Prevention Services (CPS), would like to inform the public, that the CPS COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic will only be open on Thursday, June 30 from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM and 1:30 PM to 3:00 PM.

During the first week of July 04 - 08, the CPS COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic will resume a three-day schedule as follows:

Monday, July 04: 8:30 AM to 1:00 PM; Wednesday, July 03: 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM and 1:30 PM to 3:00 PM; Friday, July 05: 8:30 AM to 1:00 PM.

The clinic schedule for the remainder of July and for August will be announced soon.

CPS would like to thank the public for their patience and understanding as CPS navigates the slow summer months.

Everyone is urged to come and get their COVID-19 vaccine. The virus has not gone away, and the vaccine continues to exhibit strong protection against severe disease and death across all virus variants.

Global health experts believe that continued virus evolution is expected, resulting in the emergence of new variants, and therefore, it is very important for the public to get vaccinated and be protected.

The Vaccine Clinic will be working on the basis of walk-ins for persons who would like to receive their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd doses of the vaccine. You must bring with you your vaccination card and a form of Identification (ID).

Paediatric clinics will continue on an appointment basis only, which will continue on Wednesdays until further notice.

The CPS COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic is located at CPS in the Vineyard Building Office Complex for COVID-19 vaccinations.

For vaccination related questions, registration queries, persons can visit: services.sintmaartengov.org; or email/call (914), This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; or call the paediatric hotline cell: (721) 526-1644.

CPS is a department in the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA).

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CAft: Debt sustainability Aruba now asks for action

ARUBA (ORANJESTAD) - The economy of Aruba is recovering well. In the months of April and May, tourism has surpassed the pre-corona level of 2019. Aruba has to utilize this period of recovery to put the budget in order.

It is necessary that Aruba follows the recommendations the CAft made with regard to the adopted 2022 budget, limit the deficit in 2022 and achieve a surplus of 1 percent of GDP on its budget as of 2023. Reducing the government debt of AWG 5.9 billion (about 104% of GDP) to an acceptable level remains an important issue. In addition, reforms need to be implemented to safeguard the social security system for future generations. 

The multi-year picture, as presented in the adopted 2022 budget, shows that there will be deficits up to and including 2026. As a result, the nominal national debt will increase further in the coming years. Interest rates are now rising, and significant refinancing is underway.

It is essential that Aruba reduces its deficits because otherwise the interest charges could become unmanageable. The CAft has made recommendations that should lead to a reduction of the financing deficit this year and a surplus of 1% of GDP as of next year. The sustainability of the Aruban debt also makes this necessary.

2022 and 2023 budget

As of April 2022, tourism has surpassed the pre-corona level. With this rapid recovery of tourism, the economy is also expanding. According to the latest insights, the economy grew by 17.2 percent last year. Notwithstanding, the 2022 budget is showing a deficit of AWG 236 million for the public sector (4.2 percent of GDP).

The CAft has made recommendations for the 2022 budget, which mainly concern expenditure control. For example, the costs for goods and services in the budget will increase by 22 percent compared to the pre-corona years, while the need for this excessive increase in costs is insufficiently justified.

Personnel costs and the country’s contributions to government-owned companies also increase unnecessarily. The recommendations of the CAft have not yet been followed, which means that for now the deficit this year is unnecessarily high. 

Tax reform

A tax reform will be implemented as of 2023, of which the introduction of a VAT (BTW) is an important part. The tax benefits arising from this reform have not yet been sufficiently clarified in the budget.

This makes it impossible to establish the reality level of the tax benefits. It should be noted that the legislative process for the introduction has not yet started. Failure to meet the intended implementation date, January 1st, 2023, will therefore affect the financing balance in 2023. 

Social security and health care

Reforms in the social security and health care are necessary to ensure the sustainability of the system for future generations.

The resulting savings of AWG 60 million are a first step towards sustainable care and should ensure that the country does not have to make a contribution in the short term to compensate the deficits in the AZV.

Because the introduction of a personal contribution and the austerity of the positive list of medicines and bandages have not yet been formalized, Aruba does not expect to achieve the pursued saving of AWG 60 million in 2022.

It is very important that these measures be implemented in the short term. A delay in the implementation of these measures leads to savings losses. In the absence of compensation for these savings losses, the result of the AZV will be negatively affected, as well as the financing balance of the country, should a national contribution be required to compensate the deficit in the AZV.

Financial management

The financial management and accountability cycle of Aruba are not in order. The preparation of the 2019 and 2020 annual accounts has been further delayed, causing a considerable backlog. These delays are due to deficiencies in the financial management. 

The CAft visited Aruba on June 23 and 24 and held talks with the Governor, the Minister of Finance and Culture, the Council of Ministers and the Committee on Finance, Government Organization, Culture and Sport of Parliament. The CAft also spoke with the management of the Social Insurance Bank (SVb), the General Audit Chamber (ARA) and the Dr. Horacio E. Oduber Hospital (HOH).

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Sint Maarten to Host Third Ministerial Forum on School Safety in the Caribbean

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, DCOMM) - The Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (MECYS) will be hosting the Third Caribbean Safe School Initiative (CSSI) Ministerial Forum from June 28 – 30, 2022.

This event was originally planned for 2021, but due to developments related to the COVID-19 pandemic, it had to be postponed, but in its place, a virtual pre-ministerial forum took place online from March 15 – 26, 2022. The Third CSSI Ministerial Forum will now build upon the outcomes of the virtual pre-forum taking into consideration the effects of more frequent extreme weather events, such as Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and biological hazards such as COVID-19.

The Caribbean region is exposed to a number of natural hazards, technological as well as biological. The hazards compromise and hinder development plans and gains in educational systems throughout the Region. The systematic nature of risk has become even more evident due to the hazards with unprecedented cascading effects impacting all sectors and levels of Caribbean economies and societies.

Studies suggest that worldwide each year, 175 million children are likely to be affected by natural hazards, according to ‘Understanding the Impacts of Natural Disasters on Children,’ report, and children in the Caribbean are no exception. Children who have experienced a disaster are much more likely to have physical health problems, mental health symptoms, lower school attendance, and trouble learning.

Research conducted by the World Bank predicts that the economic cost of lost learning stemming from COVID-19 will result in USD $17 trillion loss in lifetime earnings among today’s generation of schoolchildren if corrective action is not urgently taken.

The First Caribbean Ministerial Safe School Forum was organized in April 2017 in Antigua and Barbuda, where the Caribbean Safe School Initiative (CSSI) was launched. This was the suggested framework to advance school safety in the Caribbean.

At the first forum, a Regional Road Map on School Safety, and the Antigua and Barbuda Declaration on School Safety, were established to guide the CSSI. During the first forum, the Antigua and Barbuda Declaration was signed by 12 Caribbean Ministries of Education. During the second forum, held in 2019 and hosted by the Ministry of Education and National Reconciliation of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the number of signatories raised to 18.

The CSSI is the Caribbean’s contribution to the Worldwide-Initiative on Safe Schools (WISS) and promotes the partnership for advancing safe school implementation.

MECYS is organizing the third forum in close collaboration with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), the Ministry of Education and National Reconciliation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

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Youth Health Care Kicks Off its 5th Annual Breastfeeding Photo Contest

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Collective Prevention Services (CPS) Youth Health Care from the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA), this week kicks off its 5th Annual Breastfeeding Photo Contest.

The contest is in connection with World Breastfeeding Week 2022. The contest runs until August 4, 2022. The theme is “Step Up for Breastfeeding. Educate and Support.”

To enter the contest, you can send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; you must include your name, telephone number, a description of the photo and why you chose to breastfeed; and one image of you and your baby breastfeeding.

The rules for participating in the contest are photographs must not be older than two years; pictures must be submitted by the mother or partner; watermarks are not acceptable; pictures submitted after August 4, 2022 will be disqualified; and pictures will be judged.

Breastfeeding is a natural process. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), being a parent is the most important job in the world, and it is important to give parents all the support they need to give their child the best start in life. #Breastfeeding is one of them.

The benefit of breastfeeding is that it delivers health, nutritional and emotional benefits to both children and mothers, and it also helps to foster a sustainable food system and cements the bond between mother and child.

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Lions Club presents Citizen of the Year Award to Bregje Boetekees Van’t Hof of WYCCF

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - At a ceremony held at the White and Yellow Cross Care Foundation (WYCCF), President of the Sint Maarten Lions Club, Lion Linette A. Gibs MJF presented a surprised Mrs. Bregje Boetekees- Van’t Hof with the Citizen of the Year Award in recognition of her extraordinary, exemplary service to the community.

In making the Presentation, the outgoing President remarked: “This Award is highly justified taking into consideration your outstanding contributions to the general well-being of our island and to the White and Yellow Cross Care Foundation in particular regard to the care of our Seniors. You deserve to be recognized for the beautiful work that you do.”

Mrs. Bregje Boetekees-Van’t Hof, born in Curacao started to work with The White and Yellow Cross Care Foundation 24 years ago as a quality nurse. She was later promoted to the position of Department Manager and then appointed as Operations Manager of the St. Martin’s Home in 2008. In this capacity, together with her team, she was able to develop numerous care products and services in the areas of Elderly care, Psycho Geriatric daycare, Rehabilitation, Guided living at the Sister Basilia Center and as of late, a Hospice.

Just after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Mrs. Boetekees -Van’t Hof took on a proactive role in the Management Team to tackle this unwelcome guest. Her primary responsibility was to educate the local population as much as possible and provide the necessary opportunities for persons who desired to be vaccinated. She became a very active and vocal participant in several discussion forums including accepting an invitation to host an information session for the members of the Sint Maarten Lions Club. In consultation and collaboration with Government, she was very instrumental in setting up a Covid vaccination unit within the White and Yellow Cross and has been actively involved during the past two years to ensure the success of this Project.

Well known for her boundless energy and her positivity, Mrs. Boetekees-Van’t Hof takes a keen interest in her team of support staff and maintains an “open door” policy in her work environment. She demonstrated her very strong sense of responsibility after hurricane Irma by taking it upon herself to accommodate and assist those staff members who had been confronted with uninhabitable housing situations. She followed up to ensure that they were assisted with the repair and reconstruction of their homes. Her staff describe her as “a loyal, sincere, empathetic, hardworking lady. She knows all the seniors at the White and Yellow Cross by name.”

In accepting the Award, an elated Mrs. Boetekees-Van’t Hof thanked the Sint Maarten Lions Club for the unexpected honor and continued: “I immensely enjoy what I do. I would not have chosen any other career than this one. I love this island and I love the people. I love what I do. I commend the Sint Maarten Lions Club for the great volunteer work you are doing and the essential role that Service Organizations like yours are playing in our community.”

SXM LIONS CLUB AWARD TO BREGJE

 

 

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