Island Gems provides mattresses and bed linens to SJIS foster home

Island Gems members Astrid Plantz Gartner, , Niasha John, Milva Hoeve, Anita “Anu” Amarnaney, and Alita Singh and Ludmilla de Weever with foster home supervisor Dr. Judith Arndell (standing second right) and SJIS Foster Care Coordinator Meredith Concinsion (standing right) in one of the rooms of the foster home.


DUTCH QUARTER, Sint Maarten — Learning about the opening of a foster home for older children (age 13 to 18) from a regular supporter of Island Gems Charity Foundation and from the press, the ladies of Island Gems were happy to lean a hand when a request for assistance was received from home operator Foundation Judicial Institutes St. Maarten SJIS.

Island Gems has so far donated six mattresses, bed linens and a desk. The foundation is awaiting measurements to supply curtains and curtain rods, as well as a smart television to the home.

One of the most urgent needs was mattresses for the bunk beds already installed in the home. The foundation was able to organize a donation from a local mattress making company to the foster homes. Island Gem Astrid Plantz Gartner knew of the company’s willingness to help the community and presented the need to the owner who happily agreed to assist with the mattresses. Island Gems thanks the company and its owner, who prefer to remain anonymous.

The other items were purchased and will be purchased by Island Gems with funds raised at the foundation’s annual costume gala. Island Gems does not give money; the all-women group purchases needed items or services.

Island Gems President Alita Singh said supporting the foster home has a long term impact not only on the community, but more specifically on the lives of the children who are away from a family environment.

“We were all teenagers once and remember the things that impacted us – positively and negatively. As a group, we wanted to help make the living environment comfortable for the current batch of children and the future ones,” Singh said as she encouraged others in the community to also pitch in to help the foster home.

Island Gems members Singh, Astrid Plantz Gartner, Milva Hoeve, Niasha John, Anita “Anu” Amarnaney, and Ludmilla de Weever recently visited the home and were given a tour by SJIS Foster Care Coordinator Meredith Concinsion and Dr. Judith Arndell. They also met some of the teenagers  who were having  after school classes.

The foster home, opned in June, can house about 20 teenagers with the possibility of also adding “crisis beds” in emergency situations. DR. J. Foundation, under the supervision of Dr. Arndell, is responsible for the home’s management. Currently, there are five teens in the home. Placement in the home is only made via SJIS based on family circumstances or via a court request for the safety and well-being of the child.

SJIS has indicated there is an ongoing need for food at the home, considering the dietary needs of teenagers. Anyone who wants to assist the home with food supplies or vouchers for fresh fruits and vegetables and other items can contact Concinsion via email or call/Whatsapp +1 721 526 4310.