PHILIPSBURG--The outpouring of grief and shock over the passing of Cassandra “Debbie” Gibbs, considered a pillar of the community, continue to highlight what her presence and contributions have meant to the St. Maarten community. Both the Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin and opposition National Alliance (NA) have expressed profound sadness on Gibbs’ death.

  Gibbs was stolen by death on Friday, leaving her host of foster children, her family and a wide network of friends beyond devastated. She passed away in her sleep and was discovered at her home that also doubles as the I Can Foundation foster home.

   In a press statement issued on Sunday, the prime minister extended heartfelt condolences on behalf of government to the family, colleagues, friends, staff and all children who were in the care of the late Gibbs.

   She said St. Maarten has lost a great community leader and youth care advocate. “Ms. Gibbs immense contribution to her cause of saving youth at risk will never be forgotten. My thoughts go out especially to the children and the community of Dutch Quarter.”

   NA, headed by Member of Parliament (MP) Silveria Jacobs said in a separate press release: Gibbs’ “devotion and dedication to the children over the past generations are tangible and will be felt for years to come as these children and youth rise above the circumstances not of their choosing and become productive, positive citizens.

  “Debbie will surely be missed and we pray that the torch she carried will continue to shine in her memory and that the care of Dutch Quarter's children will continue as long as the need exists. May her soul rest in eternal peace knowing that she has made a big impact in the lives of these vulnerable children and youth, for which St. Maarten is immeasurably grateful,” said Jacobs.