By Members of the Richmond Hill-South Ozone Park Lions Club, Inc.
QUEENS, NEW YORK — Spring 2020 in New York City would be remembered for the disruption to normal life caused by the Coronavirus. Thousands of families were losing their loved ones, and uncertainty about the right solution to this devastation gripped our leaders.
In a common sense move to arrest the spread of the virus through social interaction, the US Govt ordered a shutdown of all non-essential businesses, and for citizens to remain indoors, only venturing outdoors while masked and gloved. This meant that working class families would lose their regular paychecks. Yes, some would receive unemployment checks, usually a fraction of the regular pay packet, but rent and other expenses of daily living were beckoning. For many people in NYC, the loss of regular wages made feeding one’s family a real challenge. Also, our first responders, health care frontline workers and Police Officers and Firemen were toiling in this environment at great personal risk. There’s an adage that reminds us that when the going gets tough, the tough get going, and the Richmond Hill-South Ozone Park (RHSOP) Lions Club decided to get fully involved in helping our community come to grips with the effects of the pandemic. First, the Club’s leadership made an evaluation of the circumstances under which our Health Care Heroes were working and decided to come up with a project that will convey our deep thanks and appreciation for their life saving service. RHSOP Lions donated personal funds and solicited donations from supportive individuals and organizations to prepare and deliver individually packed hot lunches to the hospitals, nursing homes, NYPD Precincts and FDNY fire houses.
The first project was set for 12:30 pm on Friday April 10, 2020 at the Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, located at 8900 van Wyck Expressway, Queens NY. At the appointed time RHSOP Lions delivered 250 lunches prepared by Sofia’s Pizza, a prominent Queens Restaurant. Accompanying the team was Ms. Jennifer Bisram and crew from Channel PIX 11 TV News. This simple gesture of gratitude was well received by the medical workers who responded with profuse thanks.
The RHSOP Lions realized that the service we have embarked upon was timely, and necessary. And so, it began to other hospitals, nursing homes etc. Good news travel fast, and some of our friends and well-wishers suggested names of medical facilities that we should visit and help to solicit funding. Although our Club is based in New York, our service was taken to the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, New Brunswick NJ Hospital in New Jersey, where again the frontline staff responded with much appreciation.
The Restaurants that supported our service were the Golden Arrow Lounge, Hibiscus Restaurant, Kaiteur Restaurant, Bakewell’s, Hacks Hallal restaurant, the Elevate Lounge. To date, we have made 61 trips to health care facilities and military installations and have served 10,950 hot lunches to our frontline heroes. Additionally, RHSOP Lions organized a food hamper distribution to the community and this attracted very positive responses as well. On Sunday May 3, nearly 1,000 persons, all masked and gloved, joined the lines to receive a grocery hamper and by 3:00 pm the organizers revealed that more than twenty-five thousand pounds of food items were distributed in 783 hampers. It was a rare sight of generosity by a coalition of civic and business organizations.
The Lions exist to serve, and the RHSOP Lions Club in collaboration with the Elevate Lounge
whose owner, Quinn Rawh, is also a Lion member, along with Lions associate Nick of Sofia’s Pizza, organized this distribution out of a generous spirit and heartfelt care for our fellow citizens…. He ain’t heavy, he’s my Brother! All the persons who participated either as donors or helpers admitted to being humbled by the experience, especially after receiving positive responses from the recipients.
The RHSOP Lions Club was represented by Executive Officers, President Lion Romeo Hitlall, 1stVP Lion Motie Phanisnaraine, Treasurer Lion Devindra Persaud, Tail Twister Lion Quinn Rawh, Board member Lion Johnnie Walker, Lion Hushana Foley and Lion Nirmala Singh; Sofia’s Pizza was well represented by Mr. Nick Agola, and the Elevate Lounge was represented by several of its associates. For several days after the event, hundreds of grateful residents have been contacting the organizers expressing thanks and gratitude for the giveaway. Our City and country may never be the same again, but as our Lions, and friends, fulfilled their mission of service, we were all reminded of the uncertainty of tomorrow and who will be a victim next. But this coming together is what makes our community strong.
The RHSOP Lions Club to date spent over $75,000 seventy-five thousands dollars during the Covid-19 Projects.