Volunteers roll up their sleeves for SXM Doet

 Volunteers roll up their sleeves for SXM Doet

Freshly painted playground games at Learning Unlimited Preparatory School.

Clients of White and Yellow Cross Care Foundation enjoying a breakfast buffet at Pure Ocean restaurant.

SXM Doet project coaches Makhicia Brooks and Caroline van Oost pose with Philipsburg Promo Board volunteers who beautified alleys in Philipsburg.

Girl power at the Seventh Day Adventist Church whilst erecting a new greenhouse structure.

PHILIPSBURG--An estimated 1,500 to 1,800 volunteers rolled up their sleeves to complete around ninety community projects for the sixth anniversary of SXM DOET, Friday and Saturday.

With recent developments involving the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, there were some precautionary postponements of projects that required the interaction of large numbers of volunteers with vulnerable groups like our elderly. That, coupled with Saturday’s downpour, led to some slight hiccups, but all other projects were successfully completed.

The projects, as usual, touched on a wide variety of community challenges and social groups. Amongst many other projects, volunteers helped fix roofing for play areas, build school benches, renovate playgrounds, install kitchens and cupboards, rejuvenate sports courts and fields, spruce up churches, beautify walls with murals, assist with food drives, create recycle bins along with environmental and cultural historical signs, organise HIV-testing events, fix school and community centre bathrooms, build community and school gardens, and clear hiking trails.

In an effort to keep participants safe and to mitigate the spread of unwanted germs, organisations and volunteers were all reminded by the Project Management Team to exercise the necessary sanitation and hygiene measures like more frequent breaks for handwashing and to not attend the event if showing any signs of feeling unwell.

The management team also evaluated the scope of all projects prior to Friday’s start in ensuring these were taking place in spacious, well-ventilated or outdoor areas, where persons were not in particularly close contact with one another, or which involved a small number of resident volunteers.

Additionally, many social projects focused on groups such as the elderly and youth, which enjoyed activities such as baking cupcakes, spa days, excursions to the bird park, island tours, sip and paints, crafting activities, barbecues, museum visits, and fun at the beach and pool, as well sport courts.

“We are so very thankful to all the volunteers and other supporters this year. The participating community organisations work day-in-and-day-out to improve the lives of many on our island, and through DOET we try to facilitate that little bit of extra help they may need. The organisations along with their volunteers really are the drivers of our community and we are happy that through SXM DOET we can give them a small boost to continue doing their amazing work, “stated Melanie Choisy, Fleur Hermanides and Laura Bijnsdorp of the SXM DOET Project Management Team.

In the past year, including for this event, over a dozen dedicated volunteer “project coaches” have signed on with the SXM DOET team, to ensure that projects have extra guidance in executing their projects.

“With their help we have seen a steady increase in the quality of projects every year. We are very thankful for their efforts, dedication, expertise and time,” explained Choisy.

Most of the projects received a small stipend through the Oranje Fonds in the Netherlands to obtain the materials for the plans put in place, as well as help from various businesses on the island. Some dedicated companies partnered with the SXM DOET team to provide discounts and donations to all participants, and others donated their time and assistance by adopting a project for the weekend, some assisting financially and in kind as well.

On Saturday evening, following the address of Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs, the Team cancelled their yearly Thank You Event to avoid large gatherings of persons, as recommended by worldwide health organisations.

Be The Change Foundation BTC, the executor and organiser of SXM DOET, thanked the Oranje Fonds for having brought the initiative to St. Maarten six years ago, and for funding the effort locally and throughout the rest of the Dutch Kingdom.

“BTC hopes that through this initiative many more persons and businesses become interested in volunteering and dedicating themselves to the many good causes we have locally, strengthening this important pillar of our society,” the foundation said.