I applaud and salute the several individuals who helped organise the end-of-year luncheon for seniors in Richmond Hill, Queens. The Inter-Community Civic Association (ICCA) in collaboration with community leaders, Indo-Caribbean Federation (Ralph Tamesh), Political District Leader Dr Taj Rajkumar, Richmond Hill Economic Development Corporation (Vishnu Mahadeo), United Arya Samaj Foundation, Shree Maha Lakshmi Mandir, several other Mandirs, and a host of volunteers (Mala Dasrat, etc) feted some 500 seniors at that special holiday luncheon last Sunday at Villa Russo in the heart of the Guyanese community in America. The hall overflowed with holiday celebrants of varied ethnicities, a get-together unimaginable a decade ago given the history of ethnic prejudice in America especially in some neighbourhoods.
Some eleven years ago Dr Taj Rajkumar, Jagdesh Mohunlall, and other community leaders felt the seniors, who generally have been neglected by the younger generation, deserved a special annual reception. So they started the free luncheon with a packed programme of entertainment and provision of gifts for the seniors. Frank Singh, the president of ICCA, carried on the luncheon for the past several years, ably assisted by Vishnu Mahadeo.
The Villa Russo catering hall was well decorated with holiday lights and trimmings. Deejay music and karaoke singing entertained the large gathering that included several prominent politicians and would be candidates for political office. Several politicians not in attendance sent greetings. Several community advocates were honoured with plaques.
As the organizers noted, this is the season of peace and goodwill and caring for others, and the community leaders wanted to hold an end of year function to treat the elderly.
The event brings together people and helps to promote partnerships between businesses and the local communities. It was funded by donations from several businesses and a host of volunteers who worked very hard to put together the programme and organize gifts for everyone to show appreciation for the seniors who have had a very lonely life in America. Restaurants donated food. Villa Russo provided space at a discounted rate.
Local artiste Son Son Persaud from Port Mourant was the host for the live entrainment. He received a humanitarian award from Assemblyman David Weprin. He is very involved in many community activities. The senior citizens took part in the proceedings with lot of enthusiasm, singing, dancing and cheering performers who entertained them with a variety of Bollywood songs, chutney, and carols. The elderly also sang several old Bollywood songs of yesteryear and took to the dance floor. The non-Indians cheered and several also danced to Bollywood and Punjabi music. Music and the sound system were provided free of charge by Ajay Singh.
Some of the singers included Joyce Urmila Harris, Frankie, Chris Budhram, Randy Harris, Lilita Ramnauth of Schenectady, and Rohan Ramdeen. The Aliana Dance School performed a classical dance followed by vibrant dancers compliments of Sattie Insurance.
Imran Ahmad, a TV host, filmed the event that will be aired on the local station ITV.
The luncheon was graced by several prominent politicians including Congressman Greg Meeks and Councilman David Weprin, both of whom showered accolades on the community organizers for their humanitarian service. The politicians presented awards and certificates of recognition to several community leaders who have performed yeoman service to help uplift life in the neighbourhood. This has been an annual rite in the community with organizers recommending names to politicians for honours.
The several organizers and volunteers are all deserving of recognition for giving so much of their time to help improve the lives of others especially at this holiday season ‒ Ena Persaud, Kay Ramdat, Mala Dasrath, Lester Ramcharran, Vidya Singh, Sherry Williams, Yvonne Singh, and Charlie Persaud, among others. They worked tirelessly to pull off this event.