If you were anything like me, then you found yourself searching frantically for any sliver of information about what was happening on the island of Sint Maarten during hurricane Irma. It was during that time that I started SXM Strong on Twitter, Facebook and, subsequently, this website.
Cyriel Pfennings-Richardson and John Sandiford, both currently residing near Eindhoven in the Netherlands, were born and raised on Sint Maarten. They both still have family and close friends who live on the island and were there during Hurricane Irma.
On the morning of September 6, 2017, when the eye of Hurricane Irma was settling over the island, both Cyriel and John found themselves in a similar position to mine. They were searching for any shred of information about what was happening on the island, only for them, this is their home.
As photos slowly started to emerge, the images were worse than anyone could have possibly imagined. Of course, there’s no need to relive that day here because now we’re focused on rebuilding, to move on and make things better than they were before the storm.
“We are resilient, we are strong, we will rebuild, every brick and stone.” #RebuildSXM
That’s the mantra of #RebuildSXM, a nonprofit organization formed by Pfennings-Richardson and Sandiford in the wake of Hurricane Irma. The goal is simple: Help rebuild Sint Maarten, St. Eustatius, and Saba.
Working through #RebuildSXM, Pfennings-Richardson, Sandiford, and a team of six like-minded business professionals all living in the Netherlands, are determined to provide assistance to the people of Sint Maarten, with 100% of donations going to local projects in support of restoring the daily life of the residents.
In addition the foundation also connects various initiatives to one another in order to assist the SSS-islands. Initiatives such as the collection of clothing, food, medicine and much more have popped up all over social media. The idea is to centralize efforts so we can achieve more together.
In the moments following the storm, the newly formed #RebuildSXM worked vigilantly via social media and many news outlets to raise awareness about what happened to the island after Hurricane Irma struck. Since that fateful day, the team has been working feverishly to raise money for the island.
The initiatives they support are straight-forward. Here’s how they plan on helping:
Milestone #1 €50,000 – Providing kids with school supplies, uniforms and learning materials needed for school.
Milestone #2 €85,000 (€35,000 will be allocated to) – funding sporting initiatives on the island, which help to keep our youths minds off the disaster that struck their world.
Milestone #3 €100,000 (€15,000 will be allocated to) – helping our elderly, to take a step outdoors again and remind them of the beauty of our island and its people.
To date, there have been multiple fundraisers held in the Netherlands to support #RebuildSXM and their noble cause. They’ve raised over €32,000 so far, and they’re just getting started.
SXM Strong is partnering with #RebuildSXM in their efforts to raise money for Sint Maarten. In the coming days and weeks, you’ll begin to notice more posts with information about how people can help and give to causes benefiting this wonderful organization.
It’s our hope that you will consider supporting us. Together, we can do more.