Written by Beris Pritchard, SPA Liaison
On March 3rd, 1919, the Buffalo newspapers carried a story of a meeting of 100 women at the Lafayette Hotel. The purpose of this meeting – to appoint a Nominating Committee. The following May 5th, at a special luncheon meeting held at the Hotel Statler, 200 women were in attendance as Quota Club International was presented with their first 100% Loan Campaign banner. However, the surprise of that meeting’s program, as planned by Wanda Frey Joiner who was then the President of Quota Club International Inc., was the presentation of a Charter to Quota’s first club! The Buffalo Quota Club, of which 151 of the women in attendance at that meeting were members, was organized! Records show that in addition to these first 151 women, another 10 joined on May 6th, then 14 more on June 12th, and an additional 10 on July 10th, making a total of 183 members in the Buffalo Quota Club by the end of July 1919.
Very quickly, organizational work began in Syracuse, Binghampton, Rochester, and Elmira, New York, as well as in Scranton, Pittsburgh, and Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. However, it wasn’t long before the pains of this rapid growth set in.
Many women at the time were comparatively new in the business world, and in club membership. Most of their previous associations had been with religious or patriotic groups, so the differences inherent to their new service club meetings had to be worked out. One of the greatest problems, though, was that membership was limited to busy business and professional women. Difficulties often arose as the demands of their occupation kept them from serving on committees or supporting service activities during working hours.
Another problem was that clubs grew too large, too soon to sustain a consistent vision for the future work of their new Quota Clubs. It is noted that one member of the Buffalo Club was a “trouble maker” when, in truth, like Wanda Frey Joiner, she too had a strong personality and very definite ideas of what was needed to move forward. Unfortunately, this “issue” was not unique to the Buffalo Club. To address the problem that had arisen, a special convention was called in Rochester, NY on September 26, 1919. When President Wanda was asked, “Which clubs have seceded?”, she responded, “Buffalo, Syracuse, Elmira and Binghampton”. This was a serious blow to the International Board of Directors! With the loss of those clubs, Scranton became the oldest continuing club in Quota, according to the Bylaws under which organization had taken place. Additionally, out of this secession, Zonta International was formed, receiving its Charter in November, 1919.
As an aside, it should be noted that, as revealed in a letter to General Secretary, Gwladys Jones on March 23, 1945, by Buffalo Club Secretary, Miss Martha Braithwaite, the Buffalo Club did not actually disband in 1919. Rather, they were not in attendance at the special convention held that September because, “A difference of opinion arose among some of the members and a number of them withdrew and formed a new club which was called Zonta”. The remaining members, although not very active for a time, still kept their Quota organization. The club sought new members and re-invented itself in 1920 with Louise Hayes Strubbing elected President. Louise was not on the original list of members.
Quota International’s first annual convention was held in Scranton, Pennsylvania on April 22-23, 1920, and was attended by members from just three clubs: Scranton, Pittsburgh and Wilkes-Barre – all from Pennsylvania. International President Wanda reported at this convention that “it was the desire of the present international board that an entirely new board be elected with new officers and start all over again”. An election was held and Jennie Lewis Evans from the Scranton Club became Quota’s second International President, effective immediately, and after which she served four years. Several other important decisions also resulted from that convention. First, Wanda Frey Joiner was made Honorary Life Member of Quota Club International – a decision which has followed for all succeeding International Presidents – which, in their words at the time, “made her a member of every club”. Second, as evidenced by the loss of so many clubs in 1919, there was a great need for a central headquarters officer; Florence Snowdon, a member of the Scranton Club was chosen and appointed to fill this need as the first General Secretary. Next, a new set of Bylaws were adopted and Ora Cole was retained for another year as a club organizer. Lastly, because of a lack of funds, the publication of The Quotarian was suspended temporarily.
Interestingly, it’s recorded that as smaller groups were organized, and weekly meetings were adopted, warm friendships were formed, not only in each club, but from club to club. This closer understanding and unending loyalty has continued on through the years. Little did these women know that their small beginnings, limited by classification mandate, would leave a legacy of friendship and fellowship to be passed on as a most precious heritage!
March……..the first Decade
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