The Port de Plaisance Yacht Club (PDP) and All About a Smile are partnering to collect food donated by yachts and deliver it to those in need on St. Maarten/St. Martin. All About a Smile distributes supplies to many organizations on the island, such as the ICAN orphanage, Mama Webster’s foster home, and individuals who are in need.
Steve Burzon, the owner of a 78-foot Swan he keeps at PDP, was approached by a yacht crewmember who asked if he wanted any food because they had just ended a charter and had good food they couldn’t use for the next charter. Burzon told him he did not need it, but as the young man was walking away, it occurred to him that that probably happens all the time and how terrific it would be if there was a formal program at the marina to donate food.
Then Burzon approached marina manager Jesse Peterson about the idea of creating a program to collect food from yachts, have it picked up, and distributed by All About a Smile, an organization he knew due to his daughter and son-in-law’s work with them. Peterson thought it was a wonderful idea, and so did those at All About a Smile. The organization, which is run solely on volunteers, purchased a freezer and refrigerator to make it easier for yachts to make donations.
Crew don’t have to run around finding people to give excess food to. “All they have to do here is tell the people in the office that they have food and they’ll come and unlock [the fridge and freezer],” Burzon says. “They can just put that food in there and just go about all the other millions of tasks that they have to do to finish up from one charter and get ready for the next one.”
When a yacht makes a donation, the manager on the dock contacts Mary-Beth McCormack, an All About a Smile volunteer who worked on launching the partnership. She or another volunteer picks up the donation and makes the delivery. They plan to rotate amongst the various charities and distribute based on which has the greatest need at that moment.
The first donation since its launch in early February was a large one, including oils, vinegars, small jars of jam, and other condiments, which were split between three organizations. The frozen meats and fresh produce from the donation were taken to the foster home by McCormack.
As McCormack notes, the partnership is a win-win for everyone — yachts typically have leftover food that needs to be disposed of before the next charter and it’s a great opportunity to distribute food to those in need on the island. “Having a freezer and refrigerator right on the dock will make it easy for them to donate the food and just think of how many people can be fed with the food. The I Can orphanage and Mama Webster’s foster home have twenty to thirty children at all times, so it is a huge help for us to supply them food,” she says. “Especially meats, fruits, and vegetables, which they don’t get too often given the expense, so we try to supply that when we buy and deliver groceries.”
Although the program is just getting started, Burzon says they hope to eventually get materials created to help spread the word about the program. “No matter what we get rolling now, it’s something that we just grow and grow and grow over time. My own ideas are that we’re going to have PDP kick this off, but I would like to see with their cooperation and with All About a Smile’s cooperation, I’d like to see this extend to other marinas on the island. But first we need to pilot the program and we need to make it happen,” Burzon says. “I just think it’s the right thing to do and I think it will grow and I would like to just fan the flames of its growth and help that along and that would make me a very happy guy.”