See How One Local Man is Helping to Rebuild Saint Martin One Roof at a Time

This is a great story and a wonderful example

Have you ever been in a situation where things are such a mess that you look around and can’t figure out where to start? If you have, then expand that multiple times and you still won’t be close to what the people on Saint Martin must feel like.

I can only imagine the difficulty of walking out your door each morning — assuming the door was still there — to see cars strewn about on their sides or upside down, houses still destroyed, and businesses still struggling to rebuild. And even though that is the reality that still exists on the island of Saint Martin, the resilience of the people, the locals who say “I from here”, is proving to be remarkable.

Take Drae Douglas for example. He is but one man, a local guy with a hammer and the will to help. Douglas and his friends have started a Facebook page named Re-Fresh SXM. On that page he posts some of the work he and his friends have been doing to help elderly people on the island who don’t have the means to help themselves following the destruction of Irma. Here’s a video from the page, check it out and I’ll meet you on the other side.

The description on the Re-Fresh SXM page reads: “Re-Fresh SXM is a NGA (non government assisted) recovery movement of SXM set up by a group of local men from the Boardwalk in Philipsburg, St. Maarten”. The page doesn’t say exactly how many people the group, led by Douglas, has helped thus far, but it’s clear there’s been quite a few. And the demand for his services isn’t going to wane anytime soon.

What we’re doing to help

You’ve recently seen some posts on SXM Strong from SXM Angie. She’s my main contact on the island that I’ve teamed up with. Together we are working to identify people on Saint Martin that need assistance. Once we find someone — either a group or an individual — we write a post about them so that more people can learn and help, if possible. Angie met with Drae just this week.

To date, we’ve provided assistance to Georgina and her after school program called Les Explorateurs, and we’ve also sent some toys to Tom Burnett for the kids in his baseball program called Player Development SXM. Thanks to the donations made by many of you through our SXM Strong t-shirt fundraising program, we’ve been able to provide this assistance.

How you can help make a difference

At SXM Strong, we like to think of what we’re doing as grassroots, community assistance. We’re not a big organization with deep pockets, so it’s unrealistic to think that we can provide resources to rebuild a home or even an entire roof, for that matter.

What we can do is try to identify people in the community that are doing good within their neighborhoods and help them by trying to provide resources to accomplish their goals. Georgiana runs an after-school program for between 70-100 at-risk kids, Tom Burnett runs a development program that incorporates baseball to assist, support and educate at-risk kids, and Drae Douglas helps elderly people who need a roof or some type of repairs done to their homes.

All of these people have one thing in common – they care tremendously and give of themselves to help others. That’s what being SXM Strong is all about. So please take the time to check out the links in this post, go see what these people are doing to help their neighbors. In the meantime, SXM Strong will continue giving our support to people and groups like these. If there are any groups you know about that are doing great work and need our assistance, please let us know in the comments below.

And most importantly, if you can, please help rebuild SXM and give today. Click here to visit the SXM Strong donate page. Together we can REBUILD SXM!

Video of some work being done by Re-Fresh SXM:

A post from Tom Burnett shows kids engaged and learning at Player Development SXM:

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Jon Ferlise

I fell in love with the island of Saint Martin the first time I visited to celebrate my 40th birthday in May of 2009. Since then, I've spent most birthdays there, and have visited countless other times getting to know this wonderful place and the friendly locals that make it so special. I adore the culture, the people, the community, and the beauty of this stunning island. SXM Strong is a website that I started to support humanitarian relief efforts following Hurricane Irma. There was no plan, it just evolved as I witnessed the devastation that Irma caused the island and the huge need to communicate and disseminate information about what had happened and how people could help support this island and its people.

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