By Dr. Vishnu Bisram
Indo-Caribbean community leaders from the greater Richmond Hill area organized a festive holiday season free luncheon for Seniors on Sunday December 15th.
The event allowed the elderly to socialize and reminisce about yesteryear in Guyana especially that ‘ole Guyanese Christmas’. It also provided them with much needed merry-making. The reception and entertainment brought back memories of the past about their youthful days.
The seniors were treated to a buffet lunch of traditional cuisine and desert and entertainment. This was the seventeenth annual luncheon. It was held at the elegant Villa Russo catering hall that was brightly decorated with party favors and Christmas paraphernalia. It was packed to capacity with mostly Guyanese and Trini Seniors and a sprinkling of non-Indians. Several prominent American and aspiring (Guyanese) politicians addressed the guests and doled out honors to individuals for their service to the community.
The idea of a holiday luncheon was conceived some sixteen years ago by Dr. Taj Rajkumar and a few other community leaders. It started small with just a few dozen Guyanese seniors sixteen years ago but has grown steadily with some 500 in attendance last Sunday. The latest wonderful luncheon was planned, organized, and hosted by Inter Community Civic Association (ICCA) including real estate developer Frank Singh, members of the Indo-Caribbean Federation, District Leader Dr Rajkumar (a Professor of English at CUNY), Mala Dasrat, Ena Persaud, Kay Ramdat, Ralph Tamesh, Sherry Williams, Reggie Rawana, Charlie Persaud, Lester Ramcharran, Dr. Vijay. Stanley Raj, Son Son Sonipersaud, Sunita Kishun, Harpreet Toor, and other community advocates. Volunteers solicited donations and gifts to offset expenses for the elegant affair. Tri-Med (Vishnu Mahadeo) and Health First (Roger Singh) organized goody bags. ICCA volunteers obtained gifts to put in. And. Every senior received a holiday gift in a bag that had other goodies. Several individuals helped to collect gifts which were packaged and presented to attendees as they left the event.
Frank Singh gave opening remarks. Dr. Rajkumar and other community organizers delivered remarks. Well known entertainer ‘Son Son’ (of Port Mourant) emceed the proceedings.
It was a marvelous, entertainment-packed reception. There was karaoke singing (including old time movie songs) and dancing. A young Guyanese American females entertained the crowd with a classical Bollywood dance. There was traditional Bollywood and local Indo Guyanese songs including Chatney. It was a nice unique blend of medley listening and danceable music. Guests moved to the dance floor. The seniors enjoyed the excellent selection of music of the yuletide season as well as old time, chatney, Bollywood, and local artistes including Sita Panday. Food was donated by a few Guyanese and Trini restaurants. The food was a medley of American and dainty traditional Guyanese dishes like curried chicken, dhal puri, chowmein, and fried rice with cake and cookies as dessert. Some gifts were donated by the business community while others were purchased with donated funds. The elderly had a most joyous time celebrating the yuletide season and the end of the year in NY. They took to the dancing floor.
Assemblyman David Weprin whose district encompasses parts of Richmond Hill and Jamaica honored several community leaders with plaques and citations.
Frank Singh thanked the community organizations for their contributions to make the event a success to show appreciation for the seniors. He mentioned the names of financial donors as well as those who contributed refreshments. He applauded the many volunteers who worked tirelessly to put together the program, get the entertainers, and organize gifts for everyone.
The event was much appreciated by the seniors interacted with friends and former neighbors they had not seen for a long time. They were most pleased that they are remembered by community leaders. They expressed their appreciation with some taking the mike and making ‘thank you’ speeches while many others uttered direct remarks of thanks to organizers.