In a stunning show of district wide support and endorsement for higher leadership, Lion Romeo Hitlall, PMJF, of the Richmond Hill-South Ozone Park Lions Club (RHSOPLC) was elected as 2nd Vice District Governor (2VDG) on Sunday May 22, 2022, for the Lionistic Year 2022-2023.
The 97th MD-20 New York State & Bermuda Convention took place at the Sheraton Hotel, Niagara Falls, during May 20 -22, 2022, and, as part of the Annual program of activities for the State’s Lions, elections for District officers were conducted for the next Lionistic Year 2022-2023. On the final morning of the Convention, elections were held, and the results announced before the eight hundred plus Lions started their homeward journey. One race that was closely followed was that of RHSOPLC’s Romeo Hitlall who was standing for the post of 2VDG of his District 20 K-1
Lion Romeo’s candidacy generated much interest in the NYS & Bermuda family of Lions for many reasons. The district has never had an Indo District Governor (DG) or Vice DG. A successful Indo candidate will have to build bridges and develop alliances with the established Afro and Hispanic groups. To make matters worse, certain elements of hate began to circulate anonymous letters attacking Lion Romeo’s character. It was time for him to find his best game and bring it on for victory.
Young and charismatic, well known and extremely popular in the district, Lion Romeo responded by rising above the fray and stand tall. Hate letters were ignored, and he focused on sharing his vision for the district instead. He attracted loyal support from the district’s seventy-seven Lions Clubs whose members were energized by his positive and clean campaign style. His campaign stayed focused on the values of Lionism and highlighted his ideas for making the district stronger. He used his visitations to seventy Clubs in Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island to spell out his vision of growing the district by bringing more Lions into the fold while retaining existing members, and to assist those Clubs that were struggling with various challenges. Lion Romeo also shared ideas on how to increase the flow of resources into the district. These issues won him the respect and support of the Clubs and must have played a vital role in securing his victory, as several delegates who were previously undecided came over to his side. In fact, some delegates were so disgusted by the attempts at character assassination that they decided to give him their vote.
But it was not an easy cake walk. The loyal and talented campaign team which included some of the most experienced Lions of the district won full marks for skillfully guiding the candidate to stay cheerful and focused in the face of personal adversities. Just three weeks before Convention Lion Romeo’s family were plunged in grief and mourning when three close relatives passed away in just over forty-eight hours. But he persevered with the tasks at hand, despite all the challenges, and the goal was achieved.
After stating his intention to run for district office, and having filed the various forms and declarations, much like national elections, the first set of tasks included the appointments of campaign staff, and confirming a schedule of activities such as fund raising events, club visitations, purchase and distribution of promotional supplies, acquisition of space at the hotel and at the convention center, renting buses to transport supporters to and from Niagara, snacks and refreshments for buses and hospitality events. Anything that goes wrong can affect the whole plan and give cause to question the candidate’s competence. By mid-April, the campaign was firing on all cylinders, as everything began to fall into place. An advance party comprising the candidate and eight of his Club Lions travelled to the Hotel/Convention Center on Thursday May 19 to get familiar with the venue and distribute posters and flyers.
Friday morning, May 20, arrived with great expectations by all, especially the Lions coming to their first Convention and those running for office. The Council Chair called the meeting to order at 4:00 pm and shortly after that the national flags of all two hundred and three nations where Lionism is active were carried into the hall and arranged on stage. As each flag bearer entered the hall, nationals of that country greeted him/her with loud applause. The American flag received loud applause, as did the flags of all the Caribbean countries, including Guyana. But the loudest applause was reserved for the flag of Ukraine.
Soon it was time to announce the names of candidates standing for office and for a seconder to speak about the nominee for ninety seconds only. Seconds before his name was announced Lion Romeo’s supporters slipped out of the Convention Hall and put on red Tee shirts emblazoned with his name. Lion Romeo’s nomination was seconded by Past District Governor (PDG) Veronica C Ralph-Munro who ably summarized the candidate’s service through Lionism thus:
“It gives me immense pleasure to second the nomination of Lion Romeo Hitlall, PMJF, of the Richmond Hill South Ozone Park Lions Club, as Candidate for the position of second VDG in District 20-K1
Lion Romeo is a proven leader whose commitment to service through Lionism is well documented. One of his core beliefs is that membership is the life blood of all organizations and has demonstrated his own commitment to this belief by personally recruiting over forty-five new Lions to his Club. When we add the two new Lions Clubs that he and his Club have sponsored we begin to get a full understanding of Lion Romeo’s strong contribution to the growth of our District 20K-1.
Under his leadership as Charter President, his Club has made Lionism a household name in Queens and Brooklyn, and even further afield. Super storm Sandy and the Covid-19 pandemic helped to hone their creativity and resourcefulness in facing challenges and serving the community, no matter what happens. Twelve thousand plus hot meals, one hundred thousand sanitizers and thousands of grocery hampers later, the first responders and residents of Queens and parts of Brooklyn were thankful to the Lions for being there and standing firmly with them.
There are citizens of the African country of Gambia who have received medical supplies, and there are children in the Middle Eastern country of Yemen who have a steady flow of drinking water, plus young women in Guyana who have received supplies of sanitary products from the Richmond Hill-South Ozone Park Lions Club which Lion Romeo headed when these projects were implemented!
Need I say more? I do not believe so except to encourage you to place your votes for this dynamic Lion to continue serving our District but this time as 2nd Vice District Governor for the term 2022-2023. Vote Lion Romeo!”
PDG Veronica is a senior leader in the district and her remarks were an accurate summary of Lion Romeo’s activism to date. As soon as she was finished more than one hundred Lions dressed in their red tee shirts entered the hall chanting “Romeo, Romeo ….,” singing and drumming for exactly ninety seconds as per Convention rules. The die was cast, and this group felt that they were confidently marching towards victory. One sensed the wave of popularity rising to the inevitable victory. When the program ended all the Lion Romeo supporters changed into red tee shirts and white slacks and headed to the meet & greet and celebrate function in the Sapphire Hall until 11:00 pm.
On Saturday evening the Lion Romeo camp held another meet & greet celebratory event, designed to pump up the troops for the elections starting at 7:00 am on Sunday morning.
On Sunday morning voting for the various candidates was conducted in an orderly fashion before all Lions congregated in the convention hall to wait for the results, and to finish the Convention Program.
When Lion Romeo’s name was announced as the 2VDG Elect of 20 K-1 his happy supporters screamed their joy. It was over – all the challenging work was over, and it was now time to celebrate this victory.
The bus trip from Niagara Falls to Queens carried the happiest Lions on the road that Sunday May 21, 2022.
Lion Romeo, PMJF, has done it!
The Richmond Hill-South Ozone Park Lions Club has done it!