By Lion Naidoo R. Veerapen
Secretary, Richmond Hill-South Ozone Park Lions Club, Inc.
This year, the Richmond Hill-South Ozone Park (RHSOP) Lions Club notched up ten years since receiving its charter on June 21, 2012. In keeping with its tradition since receiving its charter, the Club has planned a gala event to celebrate its anniversary during the month of November. This year, however, the Anniversary Gala takes on special significance since an important milestone has been achieved, the first ten years of Lionism! The gala is set to take place on Saturday November 12 at the sparkling Villa Russo Catering Hall located at 101-12 Lefferts Blvd, Richmond Hill NY.
In ten years, the memories have indeed piled up high, both good and bad, but the good has outstripped the bad and that in itself is a wonderful achievement. The Lions of the Club are grateful to all those who contributed to their success story; member Lions, Lions from District 20-K1, Lions from outside the District, supportive Business organizations, family members, friends, and other well-wishers.
The Club’s detractors were mostly driven by personal animosity towards those who were in the leadership positions. Except for two occasions, one leading into the other, when the negatives overflowed, it has all been a march to unbelievable success after success. Today the RHSOP Club has grown from its twenty charter members to a magnificent membership of eighty-seven strongly committed Lions. The growth was due to the Clubs activities and projects which served as a magnet to community activists who wished to join an organization with a proven track record of charitable service.
The story of Lionism began more than one hundred years ago when Insurance salesman, Melvin Jones, invited some business associates to meet and discuss ways by which they can serve their communities. In June 2017 this group of charitable minded individuals was formalized into the Lions Clubs International (LCI). Today, LCI represents a membership of one million, four hundred thousand Lions in one hundred and ninety-three countries, all committed to charitable service to everyone with a need.
The mindset of service and sincerity that molded LCI some one hundred and five years ago is what sparked the remarkable growth of the RHSOP Lions into the unit of success that has evolved. This fledgling group received its first baptism of fire when super storm Sandy visited Queens, NY. Lions, local and from out of state, gathered together to find ways to bring food and shelter to a frightened citizenry.
One of the local leaders in this project was the late Lion Charlie McBride, a past District Governoe, who demonstrated what it took to be a caring charitable Lion and who inspired RHSOP Lions to follow in his footsteps. The current crop of RHSOP Lions faced a disaster greater than that posed by Sandy when the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020/2021 wreaked havoc on our communities.
RHSOP Lions bravely delivered individually wrapped hot lunches to first responders in our hospitals, nursing homes, Police Precincts & Firehouses. They also distributed grocery hampers, thanksgiving turkeys and fixings for two years in a row, 2020 & 2021, hundreds of bottled sanitizers, thousands of face masks, and gloves, in well organized activities to minimize the deadly effects of the virus.
The RHSOP Lions Club’s charitable projects included a wide variety of organizations. At Christmas, gifts were distributed to young children, and residents of the shelters, including homes for battered spouses. Then for two years in a row, the first public Xmas Tree was erected at the Hitlall Triangle located at 133rd street & Liberty Avenue. Christmas in Richmond Hill took on a whole new flavor!
The charitable projects even reached the needy in foreign countries, namely medical supplies to the West African country of Gambia, installing a running water system that would impact the lives of women and children in the Middle Eastern country of Yemen, notebooks for school children in Guyana, sanitary products for young women, also in Guyana. The projects executed by the Lions seemed to trigger their desire to do more and so it went on and on.
But along with these service projects, the RHSOP Lions also participated in all other activities of their District. They fully supported the District’s management meetings and observances, and also the events organized by other Lions Clubs. RHSOP Lions attended all State Conventions during the past ten years, and even some International Lions Conventions. Just this year a sizable contingent of their Lions attended the State Convention in Niagara where one their Lions, Romeo Hitlall, PMJF, was elected Second Vice District Governor. Then the group travelled on to the International Convention in Montreal, Canada, in full support of the LCI’s programs.
The RHSOP Lions Club established a Leo Club in its very early years and its Leos have acquitted themselves with distinction in the District and New York State levels. From a District Champion debating team to producing a State Leo Vice President, the Club has demonstrated excellent leadership achievements.
But what now for this high-achieving group of Lions? Obviously, service projects would be on the front burner, in keeping with the mission of Lionism, and certainly producing more Lion Leaders for the communities that we serve, for the local district and even Internationally cannot be far behind.
The Richmond Hill-South Ozone Park Lions Club looks to the future with positive energy and excitement for a great future as Lions!
Happy 10th Anniversary RHSOP Lions!