Recognizing Selfless Service: Women’s History Month 2021 Honorees and Another Outstanding Lion

The honorees with Mr. Romeo Hitlall
By Lion Naidoo R. Veerapen
Secretary, Richmond Hill-South Ozone Park Lions Club, Inc.


March has been proclaimed the month during which the nation recognizes and honor women for their contributions to society.  Popularly referred to as Women’s History Month, we acknowledge and celebrate women for their leadership, strength and courage that made a difference in our lives.

The Richmond Hill-South Ozone Park (RHSOP) Lions Club is an organization committed to providing service to all sections of society, so it was only natural that the Lions would be wired into the work of other organizations and individuals who are similarly motivated.

For Women’s History Month 2021, the Club identified 4 persons for recognition and honor for their selfless and outstanding contributions to our communities. The four women honored are: Lions Mary Diakite, Nalini Racktoo & Nirmala Singh, and from the South Queens Women’s March Ms. Aminta Kilawan-Narine.

Lion Mary Diakite has built a name for herself as a great champion of children’s issues. She launched her own charitable organization called Cherish Every Child, through which she channels various form help and support to children everywhere. Lion Mary continued to develop and execute programs in favor of the young and needy through the Lions and do all this quietly and in a dignified manner without sounding trumpets and ringing bells! Now she serves as the Advisor to the Club’s Leos, a position in which she has been functioning as seer, mentor, mother, doctor and disciplinarian and in which she has excelled.

Lion Nalini Racktoo is a prominent businessperson. In a field where women generally must work twice as hard as men, if not more, to stay competitive and successful, Lion Nalini has achieved much success. She owns and manages businesses in the hospitality industry and among them, is one of the leading West Indian Restaurants in Richmond Hill, The Hack’s Halal Restaurant. During the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, Lion Nalini was in the frontline of the Club’s grocery hampers and hot-meals distribution projects donating her personal funds and business resources to in service to the community during the tragedy of the pandemic.

Lion Nirmala Singh is one of the rare service-oriented persons who work uncomplainingly, quietly and effectively. Lion Nirmala was one of the driving forces during the Club’s grocery hamper giveaways and hot meals distribution. We give her full marks for creativity, which she used to find those who can benefit from our services, even if they live in another country, as she did with a few families in Guyana.

Ms. Aminta Kilawan-Narine is a well-known community activist who has demonstrated strong stamina in confronting social ills in our community. An attorney by training, Aminta has demonstrated strong leadership qualities and courage in organizing like-minded social activists to tackle burning issues in our community be it domestic violence, predatory sexual behavior, or slow-moving police investigations.

The four women named above have all gone above and beyond the norm in providing service in their respective areas of social work. We humbly thank them and congratulate them all for the awards made by the RHSOP Lions Club in celebration of Women’s History Month 2021.

We also want to make mention of another Lion who has been in the forefront of the Club’s distribution of grocery hampers and hot meals distribution. Lion Bihari Lall was born in Manhattan to Guyanese parents, who he credits for the values that made him successful. He owns several Denny’s Restaurants and two businesses in the Brooklyn Terminal Market, the Blue Water Seafood Company and Gitto Farmers Market. His success was built over the last twenty years of hard work and a strong desire to help the less fortunate to which his 280 employees can attest. Humble, kind, and generous, Lion Bihari pulled out the stops in contributing to the RHSOP Lions Club’s Grocery Hamper distribution during the recent Covid-19 difficulties.

The pandemic brought out the best in many people and Lion Bihari is one of the great unsung heroes of that miserable year.

The RHSOP Lions Club, an affiliate of Lions Clubs International, an Organization committed to service worldwide is stronger because of members like Lions Bihari, Mary, Nirmala and Nalini!

The 2020/2021 Executive Board of the Richmond Hill-South Ozone Park Lions Club is comprised of:

Lion Romeo Hitlall, PMJF, President; Lion Motie Phanisnaraine, MJF, 1st Vice President; Lion Johnnie Walker, 2nd Vice President; Lion Naidoo Veerapen, MJF, Secretary; Lion Devindra Persaud, MJF, Treasurer; Lion Todd Greenberg, Membership Chairperson; Lion Mary Diakite, MJF, Leos advisor /Asst. Secty.; Lion Joylyn Wheeler-Persaud, Leos Co-advisor;  Lion Jasmine Hitlall, Club Marketing & Communications Chair; Lion Nirmala Singh, Member- Board of Directors; Lion Narzim Mohamed, Member – Board of Directors; Lion Raj Deen, Member – Board of Directors; Lion Mitch Budhram, Member – Board of Directors; and Lion Vernon Kubair Member – Board of Directors.