Government Commissioner, Alida Francis 25TH Anniversary Celebration St. Eustatius Auxiliary Home Foundation

I establish the protocol set.

I would like to think that on a day such as this, with the temperature soaring outside, a warm welcome to everyone is in order. 

It also warms my heart to be here to celebrate with you, the 25th anniversary of this vital institution. It has special meaning for me, because this home began as dream of one of the founding members Christine Flanders, who was my aunt. I can only imagine how incredibly proud she and the other founders must be today.

When you consider the solace, and comfort, and care that this home has provided to so many of our vulnerable seniors and disabled, it must generate a special kind of joy.

I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge all the residents, including Ms. Busby, who at 102 is the oldest among them. She is also the oldest resident of St. Eustatius. I also wish to recognise and applaud the superhuman efforts of the director, Sineida Paul-Suares and her incredible staff who endured the most harrowing of times during the COVID-19 pandemic, but who refused to waver in their commitment to providing the best care for their wards and to protect them from the virus.

For the better part of two years, I was privileged to sit with Mrs. Paul-Suares every day during the earlier stages of the pandemic and twice weekly after that, to discuss strategies to keep the virus at bay.  

I was always moved by her maternal concern for the safety and well-being of the residents. There was never any doubt how much she and her dedicated staff cared. They really cared. 

Today is as good as any to publicly thank this hardworking team for all that they did to protect our seniors during that torrid period.

Twenty-five years is an extraordinary milestone. To survive and grow over a quarter of a century require inconceivable effort by so many people – from support staff to professional staff, from volunteers to donors, from the residents to their families, the local and the central governments. Everyone must grasp and embrace a great value system, they must thrive against all odds, they must persevere even when it seems in vain, in order to accomplish more than anyone ever thought they could.

This is the story of the first 25 years of this foundation. The story of dreamers and doers, the story of employees past and present pushing the institution to the peak of progress, turning the goals and dreams of people like Christine Flanders, Laura Rouse, Mary Euton, Cynthia Cecilia and others from the unimaginable to the conceivable, from the conceivable to the possible, and from the possible to the achievable.

But now that we are here, what next? How do you as the custodians of the Flanders flame build on the vision and make this place stand out as a true beacon on a hill?

How do you ensure that these outstanding residents in the twilight of their lives, be made to feel that every day is like the start of a new life? How can you continue to nurture their creative spirit and engage their curious mind? Because whatever their physical state may be, their minds remain curious. And you have to feed this curiosity, put their imagination to work, and ensure they never outlive enthusiasm or hope.

As you observe your 25th anniversary - also known as the silver anniversary – this is a suitable time to reflect on the exceptional properties of silver. It can be polished, it’s a brilliant conductor of heat and electricity, it’s an excellent reflector and it’s strong, yet flexible when needed.

These are remarkable qualities that you need as you seek to turn this foundation into a sparkling precedent among care homes and other organisations in Statia and the Caribbean Netherlands.   

So now is the time to consider every creative means possible to lift the St. Eustatius Auxiliary Home Foundation to heights that until now, seemed unattainable.

I am aware that as the only home in Statia, you are challenged to provide care to people with all sorts of ailments and medical conditions – from people with dementia to those in need of psychiatric care. And without the necessary facilities, every single member of staff -your nurses, your kitchen and maintenance staff - must be well rounded to be able to take care of those with the various ailments.

Still, you must seek to expand, not only the physical space so you can accommodate even more residents, but also the quality and variety of facilities and activities that you offer.

For example, in addition to the regular daytime games and activities, you might wish to organize music and entertainment nights, plan various physical activities based on the patients’ mobility, teach new skills, offer educational programmes and more local excursions and guided tours. Maybe a hub of creative and cultural activity or an arts centre. And, with the advancement of technology, how about introducing Wii games, or virtual tours. Imagine taking residents on a visit to the zoo or the museum, a hike up the Quill or snorkeling and driving off Statia, all through virtual reality. Imagine the improvement to their quality of life.

These are but a few ideas of the things that can be done to set you apart, but if you get creative enough, if you get innovative enough, if you get inventive enough, you will find new and exciting ways to expand the vision of the founders of this home and turn it into a fortress of dignity and compassion, with a focus on the wellness of body, mind and spirit.

Needless to say, the road ahead is not without its fair share of potholes. But, if what has been achieved over the first 25 years is any indication, your successes over the next 25 years will know no bounds.

I wish you a happy 25th anniversary.

Thank you