RHSOP Lions Club in Service to the Queens Community

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By LION NAIDOO R. VEERAPEN
Secretary, Richmond Hill-South Ozone Park Lions Club, Inc.

In this report we will list some of the outstanding service projects that the Richmond Hill-South Ozone Park (RHSOP) Lions Club, Inc. has been involved with recently. It should be made clear that Lionism is all about service to others, especially those who are facing painful difficulties.

During the last three months several members of the community have reacted to the Lions “column” in the pages of the West Indian and have generally expressed a desire to learn more about this world-renowned service organization, and how they can become members.

During 2016, Lion Mary Diakite had agreed to help a colleague from work, Mr. Bukary Darboe, a Gambian immigrant, to acquire medical supplies to send to his war-torn homeland through their organization, the Jarra Organization Cooperation and Development, United States of America (JOCADUSA). Unfortunately, Mr. Darboe was attacked and beaten to death in the elevator of his Manhattan apartment building in early 2017. After mourning the loss of her colleague, Lion Mary became more committed to ensure that this project was successful. With full support from the other Lions, especially Lion Devendra Persaud, the Club handed over a consignment of medical supplies to JOCADUSA for shipment to their country. The supplies were suited for general medical treatment especially that of high blood pressure and diabetes. The shipment valued at nearly two million Gambian dollars sailed out of New York on January 22, 2021 and arrived in Gambia on March 30, 2021. All involved in this project were deeply touched by the expressions of gratitude that were received from the country’s Health Minister who arrived at the port to personally take receipt of the shipment. The RHSOP Lions Club had once more delivered much needed relief.

While the sourcing of medical supplies for Gambia was underway, the Club’s Leos were also pursuing a project of their own to fill a need in the Middle Eastern country of Yemen. The Leos are usually referred to as junior Lions but are no different from their seniors when it comes to being sensitive to the plight of people without regular supplies of food and shelter. The ongoing civil war in Yemen had caused conditions of living to reach crisis levels, thus triggering  the United Nations call for aid under its Save The Children banner. The RHSOP Leos got into the act and partnered with the NY based not for profit organization, Cherish Every Child, to raise funding to provide essentials such as food, water, warm blankets, and face masks for frontline healthcare workers in Yemen’s trouble spots. The project was a great success and provided our young Leos the opportunity to channel their energies into filling needs that made a difference in the lives of people, on the other side of the globe. To hear them say it, this project helped to build awareness in their young minds of the stark realities of life, and made them value their own personal circumstances much more.

Unfortunately, Covid-19 and its effects are still with us. The start of 2021 brought good news about the long-awaited vaccines which will make us all safe from the virus. When the vaccines became available, the mad rush to get in line made it seem almost impossible for some people to secure appointments to be vaccinated. First there was confusion about eligibility, then inability to navigate the City’s web site, even when they possess computers, all compounded by language difficulties encountered by some immigrants, especially the aged, during phone calls to the City. RHSOP Lions Club’s Nirmala Singh has been known to jump into difficult situations and create solutions to ease bottle necks and serve the needy. Lion Nirmala got to work on helping people make appointments for the Covid-19 vaccines and during the period mid-February to end of April, has succeeded in getting nearly 2,100 Queens residents vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus. And yes, she did this while holding down a full-time job and caring for her Family! Some days she made as much as three dozen appointments and did all this in fulfilling commitment to the Lions’ mission of service to the community.

The RHSOP Lions have recently embarked on a novel way of serving the community, by bringing timely and accurate information on developments in their home countries. Recently, the Club’s President, Lion Romeo Hitlall, participated on a panel that conducted an  interview of Guyana’s former President, and now Vice President, Mr. Bharat Jagdeo. The interview was streamed live on the internet and covered topics about which the large Guyanese community are extremely connected to and follow very closely. It is planned to schedule more live interviews with leaders from the home countries of the large immigrant community in New York City, as a way of providing firsthand information, and dispel rumors and gossip.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit NYC many persons in Queens lost their jobs, but some were not eligible for unemployment benefits. The RHSOP Lions Club lead the way in distributing grocery hampers to the public and continues to do this. At least once per week, and frequently twice a week, Lions of the Club can be seen distributing boxed groceries to residents at the head office located at 135-01 Lefferts Blvd, South Ozone Park. The costs incurred by this program are all borne by the Club, and in addition to donating their dollars, Lions can be observed helping members of the public take possession of the hampers and even in some instances loading their vehicles. Again, all these projects and activities are executed in the spirit of community service as inspired by Lionism.

If you wish to join this worldwide Service organization, please contact any member of the Club, or one of the officers listed below.

President, Lion Romeo Hitlall: 917-749-7700

Membership Chairperson, Lion Todd Greenberg: todd@queenslaw.com

Secretary, Lion Naidoo Veerapen: 917-714-7596

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