By Lion Naidoo R. Veerapen
Secretary, Richmond Hill-South Ozone Park Lions Club, Inc.
After nine years in Lionism, the members of the Richmond Hill-South Ozone Park Lions Club (RHSOPLC) have decided to raise their service membership to a higher level.
This Club is home to three Progressive Melvin Jones Fellows (PMJF) and eleven Melvin Jones Fellows (MJF). Melvin Jones was the pioneer of Lionism who started a business networking group in Chicago in the early twentieth century. This group evolved into the Lions Club in June 2017, and today Lions Clubs are serving humanity in 204 countries. The MJF & PMFJ are Humanitarian Awards named to honor the memory of the late Melvin Jones and are presented to member Lions who have made substantial financial co0ntributions to the service projects of Lions Club International.
The RHSOPLC is one of seventy-eight member Clubs of Lions District 20 K-1, and the Club is confident that, among its membership are Lions with the requisite skills, experience, dedication, resources, and commitment to the mission of Lionism, and are ready to provide excellent leadership at the highest level of the district and beyond. RHSOP Lions identified its Charter President, Lion Romeo Hitlall, PMJF, as one of our Lions who is ready and eminently qualified to step forward for higher leadership positions and have encouraged him to declare his candidacy for the post of second Vice District Governor. The annual convention for multiple district NYS & Bermuda has been set for May 20-22, 2022, in Niagara Falls, NY and during the convention district elections are conducted for Governors, 1st Vice District Governors and 2nd Vice District Governors of the affiliate districts. RHSOP Lions are excited about Lion Romeo’s prospects at the elections in May, as victory now puts him in the queue for District Governor (DG) in 2024-2025!
Two Lions from other Clubs have also announced their candidacies for 2nd Vice District Governor, and campaign fever in the district took off during this month. Lion Romeo’s announcement that he is in the race has created quite a buzz in Brooklyn and Queens, and the campaign has been receiving messages from Lions in the district pledging support and offering to volunteer for campaign work. In fact, on the evening of Thursday January 13, 2022, which would have been the 143rd birthday of Melvin Jones, an enthusiastic group of Lions and prominent members of the Queens business community gathered at the elegant Vetro Lounge on Cross bay Blvd. to witness the candidate’s announcement of his intention to run for office. The gathering of more than fifty well-wishers also included local elected officials, such as State Senator Joe Addabbo, State Assemblywoman Lion Jenifer Rajkumar, NYC Councilwoman Lion Joann Ariola and Democratic District Leader Lion Richard David. Several of the dignitaries spoke glowingly of Lion Romeo’s community work over the past several years and wished him much success in his quest for high office in Lionism. By the end of the evening, campaign treasurer, Lion Devindra Persaud, reported that financial donations surpassed even his best expectations. This was compelling evidence of the support for Lion Romeo among Lions and community leaders. The campaign is currently firing on all cylinders and will have to maintain its current level of outreach and PR over the next four months to achieve success.
For many of the local Lions and community leaders, Lion Romeo’s run for higher office in Lionism is important to our NYC communities, especially for South Asian immigrants. There has never been an Indo-American District Governor in Brooklyn & Queens, despite the large South Asian/Indo community. The DG’s term of office is one year, and it is not a paid position, but in the world of Lionism it is a very prestigious office. Lion Romeo is well set to create history as the first Lion of South Asian/Indo Guyanese descent to serve in this position. His campaign motto, Embracing Service for Life, says it all!
Although Lion Romeo’s campaign is considered the top project of the RHSOP Lions Club, there have been several other community service projects and activities that the Club has completed during the months of December and January. RHSOP Lions joined with the offices of NYC Council member Lion Joann Ariola and State Assemblywoman Lion Jenifer Rajkumar to station mobile Covid testing centers in highly populated areas in Cross bay Blvd., Jamaica Avenue and Lefferts Blvd. The recent spike in Omicron infections in NYC was a great worry for residents who could not readily locate testing centers and were therefore unable to get proper guidance on their health status and treatments. The mobile centers filled this need and provided much needed information and virus testing to the near panicked community.
The Club also executed multiple food distribution projects at its office located at 135th Avenue & Lefferts Blvd. Grateful residents had high praise for the Lions who worked through heavy winds and cold to make the distributions possible. Additionally, the Club continues to distribute sanitizers to residents and local organizations. More than twenty-thousand sixteen-ounce bottles of sanitizers were delivered to other Lions Clubs in the district for distribution among their members and supporters.
On a sad note, as the City mourned the senseless killings of NYPD Officers Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora, RHSOP Lions raised the Blue Line at 133rd Street & Liberty Avenue in solidarity with the families of the deceased officers, and the City’s Police Department. These young officers were gunned down while serving our city and Lions, for whom “service to the community” is paramount salute Officers Rivera and Mora for making the ultimate sacrifice.
The Richmond Hill-South Ozone Park Lions Club continues to make a difference in the lives of the residents of our communities in Brooklyn/Queens. Ours is the only organization that spends 100% of all donations received for service projects. Our Lions volunteer their services without remuneration, in keeping with the mission statement in the Lions Charter of 1917. We do not divert funding for overhead expenses like some other organizations do. It is not unusual to see individual Lions footing the bill for various projects, because that’s what Lions do, WE SERVE!
If you wish to find out more about our Club, please contact the Club President Lion Motie Phanisnaraine at 718-809-4087, Membership Chairperson Lion Todd Greenberg at 718-268-0400 or Club Secretary Lion Naidoo Veerapen at 917-714-7596
The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the position or policy of the THE WEST INDIAN.