Who is Sabrina Vrutaal?

I was born on the beautiful island St. Maarten in the 80s, raised in Holland, returned to St. Maarten, completed my studies in Curaçao, and am now a mother of two boys and the Founder of EduCare Foundation. I have been a Registered Nurse for the past nine years. I’m currently employed as the AVBZ officer at Social Health Insurances SZV for the past five years, while managing the Early Childhood Learning Center for children from birth to four years old, with a dedicated team of four teachers and one school assistant.

How would you describe yourself?

I would describe myself as a driven and caring person who is always willing to challenge, myself. I am also a very social person.


While living in Holland, I completed MAVO. I always loved caring for babies and children, however, I chose nursing to have more working options after my studies.

What is EduCare Foundation?

EduCare Foundation was founded in March 2015 with four board members who had the mission and vision of the foundation at heart. We offer services that would enhance the quality of life even before birth through education, care and support in the areas of prenatal, postnatal and early childhood education. We started in July 2015 with prenatal workshops to give much-needed information to the community when it comes to caring for your baby, what to expect during delivery, breastfeeding and more. In September 2015, we officially opened the doors to our early childhood education centre that offers an alternative for parents during the day, allowing children to develop at their own pace while stimulating and educating them with emphasis on cognitive development, social emotional development and physical development.

How did you end up in early childhood development?

I always had a passion for children and I had the pleasure of working at the baby clinic of White and Yellow Cross Care Foundation/Youth Health Care for three years. After moving on to SZV, I wanted to be involved with the development and care of children and therefore the idea EduCare came about.

And what do you like about being in this field?

Children are here to be loved and cared for, they depend on us to show them love, care, and right from wrong. I enjoy seeing the joy on their faces and seeing the little one grow and taking the courage to do new things just because they feel secure and loved.

What differentiates you from other professionals in the field?

Everyone who does their job with passion and love in their heart will deliver good services. I would not differentiate myself from the others. However, consistency and self-advancement are key to success.

Tell me about your upcoming conference?

The Early Childhood Development and Disorder Conference is a one-day event on Saturday, October 8, which will highlight different aspects of a child's development, how we monitor a child development, common acquired disorders during the development and services that are available locally that are there to support and assist with such. EduCare Foundation was chosen as the organisation to be highlighted during the month of October by Be the Change Foundation, which is a charity fundraising group that assists non-profit organisations with raising monies needed for a particular cause or project while promoting the mission and objectives of that organisation.

Who does it target?

It targets (expecting) parents, caregivers, teachers and the community at large that would like to know more on these topics.

What does the coordinating organisation hope to achieve with such an event?

We hope that participants gain knowledge from the experts in this field, insight on certain behaviours and also network with those present.

Why should anyone attend?

This event was organised for the community free of charge with local and regional speakers all with the same goal in mind: to educate the community on these much needed topics. We often have question or doubts pertaining to child development, but don't know where to go with them. This is the perfect opportunity for you to attend. Persons interested in attending can register via our Facebook page: EduCare Foundation SXM or email: educarefoundationsxm@gmail.com.

Future goals?

Completing my Bachelor’s in business management, expanding the services of EduCare and being the best I can be spiritually and mentally.

What do you do outside of EduCare Foundation?

Being a full-time AVBZ officer, mother and fiancé is enough to keep me occupied.

Special talents?

None I can think of besides juggling all my responsibilities at the same time.

Dream holiday venue?

I would have to say Bora Bora. It looks like a place where I can actually step out of my busy schedule and relax.

What message do you have for youngsters who want to follow in your footsteps?

Whenever pursuing your dreams, don't look left or right, when you do that, you start to compare yourself and this can lead to doubt or even failure. Look straight ahead and follow your heart.


Travelling, shopping and dining.

Pet peeve?

I’m terrible at delegating and this can cause hindrance, especially when working in a team.

Favourite quote?

Don't meditate on the problems, meditate on the promise.

What’s your favourite type of music?

Zouk, soca, gospel and ritmo kombina (Curaçao music).

If you could ask any three persons (dead or alive) to a dinner party, who would they be and what would you cook for them?

I would ask my great grandmother, grandmother and mother. I am blessed to have all alive and well, I would try to cook a la Martinique such as fish, breadfruit, banana and avocado.

Alida Brown is part of the coordination team of the first ever Miss International Elegance Mothers Pageant, which will be held at St. Maarten Festival Village on Saturday, November 12, from 8:00pm. In this week’s Hot Seat, Brown tells us more about herself and the pageant.

Who is Alida Brown?

I am a shy, talented, friendly and behind-the-scenes type of person. I was born on the beautiful island of St. Maarten and am the oldest child for both of my parents. I am very much family-oriented, fun and protective of my family. Also, I would say that I am like a lion: full of life and energy and a leader when I have to be. I am always looking out for others and I am very loving.


I began my studies in accounting at University of St. Martin (USM) under the Johnson and Wales University (JWU) programme and then travelled to the Netherlands and furthered my studies in the field of financial administration at Mondriaan College.

How did you end up being involved in the first ever Intl Elegance Mothers Pageant?

I was asked by main coordinators David William and Nicole Richardson to go on board and assist with some aspects of the pageant.

What role do you play?

I started out as a member and am now the secretary of the Believe to Achieve Foundation board, which is coordinating the pageant. As secretary, I am responsible for taking the minutes at meetings; but for the pageant, I am basically in charge of the 12 delegates. I will be chaperoning the mothers during all their outings on island and will make sure they get to where they need to go while here, amongst other things.

What do you like about being involved in pageantry coordination?

I love the many colourful and creative talents and fashion involved in the process. I also enjoy meeting new people and getting to know them a bit more.

Give us an idea of what goes into planning a major event like this.

There is so much involved and so much that can be said about such a process, but what I can say is that a lot of brain storming is involved, there is meeting after meeting and a whole lot of decision-making to ensure the safety of the delegates. This is very important because we want to bring out the full elegance in mothers at this event.

What challenges do you face and how do you think these can be resolved?

I believe that the greatest challenge any pageant or show faces is sponsorship. But our team doesn’t see this as a challenge; we take it as an opportunity to come up with better ideas on how to get what we need to give the audience a fabulous show.

Many pageants are held in St. Maarten every year, what makes this pageant extra special?

This pageant is extra special because we are not only portraying the beauty, grace and elegance of the delegates, we also want to show how each participating mother has her own hardships, struggles and strengths, while still managing to not lose her true value as she maintains her bling and glamour.

Is there a reason why the pageant is being held close to St. Maarten Day?

No; this is purely coincidental. However, the combination is good for us to regroup and start preparations for our local Miss Elegance Mothers Pageant.

Why should anyone attend the pageant?

St. Maarten is a melting pot of many nations, and this pageant will have participants of many of the nations represented in St. Maarten, so I believe that one and all should come out and cheer for their respective country and get a first-hand view of the talent, creativity and entertainment each nation offers.

Future goals?

My personal goal is to push the Mix Emotion (ME) musical in order to give the many talented artistes and actors in St. Maarten their spotlight moment.

What do you do outside of helping to coordinate this pageant?
I am a civil servant who functions as an administrative clerk at the Inspectorate of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth (ECSY) Affairs for the Government of St. Maarten. I look forward to my weekends and I want them to come fast knowing that my nieces, nephews, stepson and godchildren usually sleep over at my home. We usually have fun with movies, games and laughter. I close off my weekend in church with my Rock Church St. Maarten family. We are one in love.

Do you have any special talents besides pageantry?

I do have some special talents other than pageantry. I love taking pictures and filming. I also do play writing and engage in arts and craft.

Dream holiday venue?

I have dreamed, wished and fantasized about going to Venus, Italy, Hawaii and many other places, but the one place that I consider my dream holiday venue, where I have spent many vacations with my son when he was much younger, is right here on my beautiful island, sweet St. Maarten. I would encourage everyone to book a hotel and have a staycation (or vacation if you’re visiting) to enjoy the wonders of vacationing in my homeland.

What message do you have for youngsters who want to follow in your footsteps?

No matter how big or small, always put God first. All things are possible through Him. Also, always believe in yourself.


Fashion designing, reading and watching cartoons or any kid-animated movies.

Favourite quote?

Education is the key that opens doors of possibilities. ~Tyresse

What’s your favourite type of music; what artistes do you listen to?

I listen to a lot of gospel and old school R&B. I enjoy listening to gospel artistes like Blessed Messenger, Positive, Rizon, Hezekiah Walker, Kevin Smith and Marvin Sapp. For R&B, I enjoy Luther Vandross, Rita Franklin, Anita Baker, Michael Bolton, Michael Jackson, Tyresse and Barry White.

If you could ask any three persons (dead or alive) to a dinner party, who would they be and what would you cook for them?

The late Ruby Labega, Claudette Charmaine Carty and Pearl Forde-Labega. I would cook food fit for goddesses. These women had no favourites and did not care how grand the food was. All that mattered to them was spending time with loved ones and sharing love, joy and prosperity with each other.

United States-based piano entertainer Gregory Anderson tells us about himself, his piano playing skills, and how he ended up playing at The Red Piano in St. Maarten.

Who is Gregory Anderson?

I am a middle-aged piano entertainer with an ever increasing appetite for awareness of the human condition.


I studied Business Administration at the University of Oklahoma.


I am an entertainer, piano teacher, arranger, church musician and keyboardist in a local Dallas band.

How did you discover your love for the piano and how long have you been playing?

I began when I was eight years old, in the third grade. In those days, each elementary school classroom had a piano, and teachers knew how to play enough to teach the children songs. Within weeks of beginning my lessons, I was playing for the class and demanding that they sing along – and they did.

Where and how did you hone your skills?

I took private piano lessons from the 3rd to the 12th grade and then continued playing professionally.

Where do you live and how did your Red Piano gig come about?

I currently live in the United States. I was working on a cruise ship and fell in love with the Caribbean and wanted to work here, but a well-known agent in these parts refused to book me because I do not use digital enhancements, such as drum machine and bass sequencer, in my shows. I researched online, found The Red Piano in St. Maarten, scheduled an audition and by the end of the night, they were asking me what month I’d like to appear. I played there just this last month of August.

Was this your first time playing at Red Piano?

I have played there before several times and I do hope to return soon.

What can people expect from you at Red Piano?

I treat each evening of this engagement as if it is a gathering of friends in the music room in my home. I’ll wow you with piano prowess. And if I am at all familiar with your request, I will play it, because it means something to you and I want you to hear it. And somewhere along the way, we are all going to laugh.

What’s next after Red Piano?

After this engagement, I am headed back to Frisco, Texas, where I live. It is going to be a busy autumn as my students are starting back and the band is continuing bookings and we are constantly upping the calibre of music at my church. Sometime this fall, I will work on a trip to Istanbul. Next scheduled overseas musical appearance is February 2017 in Switzerland.

What do you do outside entertainment?

I enjoy spontaneous road trips (all over anywhere), dogs (my Golden Retriever), hiking (the Alps), reading (Oscar Wilde), travel (cultural, not touristic), board games (Scrabble, anyone?) and anything aviation.

Tell us something no one else knows about you?

I can’t get enough hugs.

Future plans?

Professionally, I am on a winning trajectory, just pushing harder. Personally, I would like to find a partner with whom I can share it all.

What is your philosophy on life?

It’s often easier to get forgiveness than permission. Do it!

Favourite quote?

“What a beautiful day for donning a kilt, standing upside down in the middle of the road, and saying, ‘How’s that for a table lamp?’” ~K Dodd

What is your favourite type of music?

I do not have favourite types of music, but my tastes evolve constantly. Some favourite artists right now are Morcheeba, Jamiroquai, Røyksopp and Acoustic Alchemy.

If you could invite any three people (alive or dead) to a dinner party, who would they be? What would you serve at that party?

I would invite John Varvatos, Marc Chagall and Elton John, and would serve them cheeseburgers!

Lisa Michele Davis-Burnett was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico; her father was in the military, so she therefore grew up as a “military brat.” She attended school in many places – mostly all over Oklahoma and Texas – because the military moved families from post to post.

When did you come to St. Maarten?

I came to St. Maarten in the spring of 1990 and only left to put my stuff in storage and to sell some of it.

Why did you come to St. Maarten?

It was spring break and one of my friends had timeshare at the Pelican Resort. She invited our group to go with her. “Let’s go!” she said, so we did!

What were some of your previous jobs?

Oh I’ve had a lot of jobs. I taught every class from second grade to just before university. I worked as an exploration geologist for Texaco. I was an Asbestos abatement engineer. I ran a dive shop here on St. Maarten. I also worked on the 12-metre boats. Now I coordinate The Weekender for The Daily Herald and I teach on Saturdays.

What are your interests?

Everything! I love geography, math, painting, performing, singing and all kinds of sports, scuba diving, water skiing and biking. I also like to travel.

You’re interested in performing? What performances would we have seen you in?

I’ve been in church choirs; performed in Les Misérables and both Jesus Christ Super Star shows staged here on island. I also take part in performances with the belly dancing group, these are so much fun. I am looking forward to the upcoming stage performance, Behind the Beyond.

What’s your favourite part about performances?

Rehearsal is the best. It’s very demanding but worthwhile, not to mention it helps keep me fit and in shape.

You enjoy belly dancing? What got you into it?

Yup, I love belly dancing. As to how I got into it, I met the teacher and liked her personality and positivity, and finally decided to try it out. Belly dancing is addictive once you learn how to move your body.

Are there other fun things you do in your spare time?

I really enjoy doing clown classes. I like being a clown because it allows me to have a connection with my inner child.

They say age is just a number; does age make a difference when pursuing your interests?

If I lived in a bigger place, I wouldn’t be participating in as many activities as I do here, I think. St. Maarten is a very open place and welcomes anyone who’s interested to try something.

Is St. Maarten still the same place you fell in love with?

I’ve changed the way I see St. Maarten, now that I’ve gotten a chance to experience and understand the culture and people; and as a result of that, I love St. Maarten even more so now.

What is your life’s goal?

I have many life goals but my ultimate life goal is to live to 100 and still be healthy and functioning!

What are your pet peeves?

My biggest pet peeve would have to be people who have no curiosity and are easily bored.

If you could invite any three people, dead or alive, to dinner, who would they be and what would you serve?

That’s difficult. I would love to have the following people at my dinner party: Karl Saigan – because he’s the best science communicator; Sacajewa – because she’s mysterious and I want to know more; Louis Armstrong – because through his trumpet playing, he cut down barriers between people. I would serve a vegan feast with lots of bright and fresh colours and flavours!

Who is Amy Arrindell?

I am the mother of an eight-year-old son, a school social worker and counsellor and the president of St. Maarten Zoo. I’m a very determined, ambitious, loyal, understanding, generous, dedicated and adventurous person, who was born at St. Rose Hospital in St. Maarten.


I studied to become a social worker in the Netherlands. Currently, I am doing a double Master’s degree in Counselling and in Education (with a concentration in school counselling) at University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) which will both be completed by the end of the summer of 2017.

How did you end up becoming president of St. Maarten Zoo?

I visited the zoo five years ago with Islaya Streefkerk who explained to me that the zoo was not being subsidised by government and was solely dependent on its entrance fees to survive. I decided to volunteer my services and became vice president on April 22, 2013, and president on November 13, 2014. The past and present board members have done and continue to do a wonderful job in keeping the zoo open and having the community realise how important it is to have a zoo.

Why did you decide to take on this challenge?

Because I believe the past board members had a vision on how the zoo should be and the present board is ensuring that we continue to build on that firm foundation and one day expand the zoo so that it is not only a zoo, but also a place where learning can take place, where persons can come and relax in our botanical garden and children can interact with nature and the animals in a safe place.

What are some of the challenges you face in this capacity?

Not being subsidised by government and government not seeing the importance of having a zoo are major challenges.

Why is the zoo a special place in St. Maarten?

Because there is nowhere else in St. Maarten that you can go with your entire family (including your grandparents and persons required to use a wheelchair) like St. Maarten Zoo. At the zoo, you enter into a place where you can interact with animals, sit and have something to eat and drink while watching your children play in our playground or our children water area, relax in our garden, read a book, or just unplug from the hustle and bustle that St. Maarten has become. We also have free Wi-Fi and a fully operational bar and restaurant. This is what makes us unique and special.

Do you think residents understand the importance of the zoo?

I do believe that the people of St. Maarten understand the importance of having a zoo in St. Maarten because they have been supporting us for more than 20 years, which has enabled us to remain open and in full operation.

How has the zoo improved under your presidency?

I must say that the improvements at St. Maarten Zoo have been a team effort. All of our board members are volunteers and they go beyond their call of duty and volunteering to make the zoo what it is today.

Future plans for the zoo?

To be subsidised by government, to do a complete renovation instead of surface fixes, to expand and to do summer programmes geared towards the youth, such as a junior zoo keeper programme where children will learn about the different animals at the zoo. This will give them hands-on experience, while giving an in-depth look at the many aspects of zoo keeping.

What do you do outside of being president of the zoo?

I am the social worker and counsellor for St. Maarten Academy PSVE and I also assist the Belair all-inclusive fitness centre with fitness and nutritional information for their social media sites.

Tell us about the upcoming fundraising event and why the public should support it?

The fundraising Gala event, sponsored in part by St. Maarten Timeshare Association (SMTA), will benefit St. Maarten’s most diverse animal park in its continued effort to create an educational atmosphere for tourists and residents alike, with various insights into the flora and fauna of St. Maarten and the neo-tropical region of Latin America and the Caribbean. The event starts at 7:00pm and will be at Zoo Rock Café in Simpson Bay. Dinner is a lovely three-course with vegetarian options, alongside the energetic sounds of St. Maarten’s very own entertainment masters: Youth Waves, Control Band and DJ Pebbles. A silent auction will also take place with some great prizes, including artwork, airline tickets, hotel stays, dinner vouchers, biking trips and kayaking trips. Guests can enjoy a delicious three-course dinner for a donation of US $100 per person. Those who prefer a lighter platter of delicious hors d’oeuvres and top-shelf drink options can purchase tickets for $50. Tickets are available on location at St. Maarten Zoo, The Daily Herald, Island Pet Shop, Healthy Iguana Veterinary Services and from all board members.

What goes into planning such a major fundraiser?

First of all, board members always try to make sure that whatever event we are organising, we can have a successful outcome, securing sponsorship to cover the cost and working diligently and together along with the community of St. Maarten. In short, team work, planning, preparation, public awareness, participation and contributions always ensure successful zoo activities and fundraising.

Dream holiday venue?

New Zealand.

What is a perfect romantic evening?

Full moon dinner on a beach.

If you were to be stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you take?

A machete, a pot and a fishing rod – yes, I definitely will be eating and drinking.

Message for youngsters who want to follow in your footsteps?

Always have a vision of what it is you want to do, set small but achievable goals, work towards them and remember that there is always a lesson to be learned with setbacks. Make them your stepping stone to achieve whatever it is you set your mind to do. Stay focussed and have positive people around you who believe in you and your dreams. It also helps to create a vision board that you can look at daily to remind you of what it is you want to accomplish.


None at the moment because my schedule does not permit it.

Pet peeve?

People not honouring their commitments.

What’s your favourite type of music?

I listen to different types of music depending on my mood and what I am doing. The music definitely gets my energy up and keeps me going. I love music.

If you could ask any three persons (dead or alive) to a dinner party, who would they be and what would you cook for them?

My maternal grandmother, who died when my mom was six years old; my mom and my son. I would cook peas and rice, boiled red snapper in a garlic butter sauce, baked sweet potatoes, avocado and a green salad. I would love to see the interaction between the three generations.

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