Published On: Mon, Mar 12th, 2018

Nine women who have paved the way for growth and progress honored

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Great Bay — It is not often that women in society are recognized for what they have done or, in some cases, are continuing to do. But for the third straight year, the Prominent Women organization on St. Maarten has singled out a few to coincide with International Women’s Day.

For at least one person who was not at the head table, it was extremely humbling because she had no idea that she would be receiving a prize for the President’s Award. But the same could be said about the rest.

Unlike the other awardees, the person receiving the President’s Award was selected by the President of the Prominent Women organization, Ramona L. D Riley herself. That lucky person was Francine Carti (see photo above), a hairdresser and owner of Hair On Earth Beauty Saloon in Grand Case.

By far, her time on stage was the most emotional and Riley offered her shoulder for comfort before she accepted her award. She was described by Riley as a phenomenal woman and a prominent woman that has persevered over the years.

“I dont have words, I only talk in my business, but I want to thank each and every one of you,” Carti said. Now after 35 years on the job, Carti is now more empowered to do what she does best.

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Heading the list of honorees was member of staff in the Parliament of St Maarten, Nancy Guishard-Joubert, the recipient of the AML Leadership award. On hand to present that special award was Ambassador Alicia Liverpool.

“Diplomacy is the art of jumping into troubled water without making a splash, this is Nancy.” and those remarks drew a round of applaud from the audience. According to Liverloop, sometimes the situations are chaotic, but Guishard-Joubert jumps in without making a splash and deserves the award.

The Life Time Achievement award went to Farina Amjad, CEO of Motorworld who was unavoidably absent. Since her arrival on the island with her husband Imran McSood Amjad back in 1982, she is now the CEO of the biggest car dealership on the island.

From one car to eight cars and after 12 years, she bought Thrifty Car Rental in 2000, in 2006 she bought Dollar Car Rental Franchise and in 2011, she bought Caribbean Auto Sales. Currently she has a staff of 150 persons.

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Accepting her award in her absence was Karen Blanchard, Business and Corporate Director at Motorworld. “I have to say thank you for the recognition and I must also congratulate the other Prominent women here tonight, I am very impressed and proud.”

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The other recipients were Katsiaryna Ozkan, (special recognition award), this entrepreneur along with members of her staff made her presence felt after the passing of hurricane Irma by handing out thousands of meals on a daily basis for two months.

“It is a great honor for me and I am blessed to be a part of this community which I call my home. We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone,” she stated.

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Michelette Boasman (Business), is something that runs in the family for Boasman. “Last year I attended this event where I was asked to sing. I knew that I would attending again this year, but what I did not know was I too was going to be honored now i am truly honored,” she said.

Astrid Davelaar (Education) is a 16 year veteran in the field of children education.

Mary L. Bryson (Family) is the person that also made a significant impact after a hurricane, but that was 22 years ago. After leaving the job she had, her passion for cooking and selling saw her launching ‘Meals on Wheels’ in January of 2004. She is known for her contribution to the less fortunate.

Jennifer Thomas (Government) is the lady with the face and smile that has an effect on the people she has to interact with on a daily basis within in the public service. “I just like to make people feel at home especially after Irma, so many people are stressed,” she stated.

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Alita Singh, for her role as a member of the media. As a mentor to several young people on the island, Singh has the ability to inspire and her writing skills has not gone unnoticed.

Each of the awardees were accessed by their individual accomplishments or performances in the political, social and economic arena. In her opening address to the gathering, Riley welcomed the women that were being saluted and the specially invited guests. “International Women’s Day is celebrated worldwide on March 8th to commemorate the political, social and economic achievement of women.

“It is the day to pay tribute to every woman and salute their immense contribution in shaping the society. So tonight it’s an honor for me to welcome you to Prominent Women’s third annual awards ceremony and gala dinner.”

“We not only celebrate and honor these nine distinguished women of our community for dedication and service, but all women because ‘women are the real architects of society’, words taken from a speech by Harriet Beecher Stowe.”

In her keynote address, Cristal Le Grand said, “individually we are a drop, but together we are an ocean. Before delving into her speech, Le Grand took the opportunity to acknowledge a few persons in the audience who she described as her rocks which included her mother.

She went onto tell a story about a slave Biddy Mason, aka ‘Grandma Mason’ who was able to purchase the same property where she was enslaved back in 1866 for US $250. But by the time she dies in 1891, that property was valued at US $300.000, at today’s rate $6 million and that made her the richest colored woman in Mississippi.

“How much time have you spent thinking about the adverse conditions we now face, could we actually consider that this could be the best time of our lives. A grand opportunity to re-define who we are and what we have to offer this world.”

According to Le Grand, Mason was living in a ‘post-hurricane Irma’ life in her time, but if she was not living on that property, when it became available for sale, she would not have been able to be in the right place at the right time.

“Sometimes you have to suffer in the places of your self-opportunity and seize the opportunities as they appear. We are all a drop, find your drop and search for progress together.”


Visit our Facebook page to see more photos. Photos by Milton Pieters.

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