Quota Crosses the Pacific

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Written by Beris Pritchard, SPA Liaison

In 1930, Dr. Mabel visited Sydney for a short time and made a point of visiting Myrtle Fletcher. In addition to meeting with Myrtle, she also introduced Quota to a few other women in Sydney, thus forming the nucleus of a new club there.  However, it wouldn’t be until 1933 that the Club would receive its Charter from the Governor of New South Wales, Sir Phillip Game.  With this charter, Australia officially became the third country to join Quota Club International, and the Quota Club of Sydney became the first women’s classified service club in Australia.

mabel palmer

Enthusiasm was high and the new club immediately set about its service program. One of the first services undertaken by Quota in Australia was the establishment of a cottage known as “Quota Cottage” at the Hammondville Settlement.  This settlement served destitute families throughout the Great Depression and was established by the Rev. Hammond in 1933; today, Hammondville is a suburb of Sydney.

Unfortunately, as the first classified service club for executive women in Australia, the members of this fledgling club had no other organization in Australia to turn to for guidance.  There were no airmails, cables were expensive, and surface mail meant that inquiries and replies took months to be received.   Understandably, irregularities of classification and membership occurred, the Bylaws were not always understood completely, and the club had many difficulties.  After some time, the Board of Directors decided that the Sydney club should be wholly re-organized and that the Quota International Bylaws and Charter should be accepted.  As a result, the club was re-organized, and though a few of the original members had resigned, the ones who stayed were strengthened by this restructuring and by those who had joined in the intervening years.

The Charter of the present Quota Club of Sydney was received by its President, Minnie Gates on   September 28th, 1937, together with a gavel presented by Dr. Mabel Palmer of Davenport. This began a tradition for subsequent clubs in Australia to be presented with a gavel on their Charter by those who organized the club.

Through all of this communities all over Australia were experiencing the difficulties engendered by the Great Depression and the start of the Second World War. Thankfully, the Sydney Club progressed despite these challenges and when the temporary District 13 was formed, the opportunity arose for a new club to be chartered in Orange!  So, on February 3, 1940 11 members traveled to Orange for the chartering of the Quota Club of Orange by Governor Edna Davidson. The Quota Club of Katoomba followed soon thereafter, but by this time every community was wholly occupied with the “war effort”.   For the first 10 years, while the District was temporary, the District Governors were all appointed by the Board of Directors and were all members of the Sydney Club, with the exception of Helen McCormick who was a member of the Orange Club.

In 1942 President Effie Loudermilk reported at the Mackinac Island, Michigan Convention that there were a total of 75 Quotarians in Australia, and referred to them as “a brave and active group of Quotarians.”

After the war, community service and club growth began in earnest – an Extension Committee was set up and the North Coast area of New South Wales became the focus.  There was great excitement and the NSW area was ripe for a visit by the International President to present the Charters and further inspire the Quotarians in NSW. President Marie Higgins undertook the visit, and a wonderful round of inter-club visiting took place at the presentation of a “most triumphal succession of Club Charters”; namely the Lismore, Grafton, Murwillumbah, Kyogle, Kempsey and Taree Clubs.

marie higgins

President Marie Higgins’ Christmas message for the “Quotarian” was written from Lismore.  “Tonight, as I write this Christmas Message, I am sitting on an open porch in Lismore, NSW. My trip to Australia has enabled us to join hands in true Quota spirit, and the Christmas season will be enriched with a new unity and a closer bond between our four countries”.   (Mexico City had received its Charter at the 1947 Convention in Victoria, British Columbia, making Mexico the fourth country in Quota Club International.)

The next 10 years saw great development in the growth and influence of Quota in Australia – the formation of over 30 new clubs and the establishment of three new Districts, the 24th in 1950, the 26th in 1954, and the 28th in 1957.  With 1956 came another visit to Australia by an International President – May Virginia Valencik.  International President Valencik attended the First Combined Conference of Australian Clubs and the first Seminar of District Governors which were held in Grafton, NSW and attended by 209 members from 31 of the 32 clubs then chartered.

may valencik

Australia’s early leaders broke the mold of Quota’s all-American leadership by being nominated and then winning a seat on the Board despite their relatively small proportion of members.  The first of these leaders was Taree Past Governor Dr. Joan Redshaw who was elected Director 1966 – 68.  By the 1970s there began a succession of South Pacific Area Directors who had Board seats as-of-right, thanks to the efforts of their elected predecessors who had insisted on recognition.  As of 2019 Australia has now produced six International Presidents, two International Directors, 19 South Pacific Area Directors and 2 Vice Presidents – 2018 being the first year in 52 years that Australia did not have Board representation.

Joan Redshaw

By 1980, New Zealand had become the fourth country to join Quota International, (Mexico had since been lost).  The Area concept was established which categorized clubs into the South Pacific and Atlantic Areas.  As a result, the Ninth Combined Conference held in 1980 was renamed the First Combined Conference of the South Pacific Area.  The conference was held in conjunction with the first International Convention in Australia, which took place in Sydney and had over 1,000 members in attendance.

May…… Service is what ‘We Share’

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