Written by Beris Pritchard, SPA Liaison
While the dictionary simply describes a mentor as a “valued advisor”, the contributions of Quota International’s Parliamentarians over the past century would be more aptly described as invaluable! Quota has been blessed immensely by our competent, understanding, and loyal parliamentarians. Like the organization’s long-serving and dedicated General Secretaries/Executive Secretary/Executive Directors, our Parliamentarians have been few in number but highly in value and worthy of our kindest honors.
Quota’s Robert’s Rules Connection
In the first decade, the Parliamentarian at the 1929 Board Meeting was none other than Professor Henry Robert Jr., son of General Henry M. Robert, the author of Robert’s Rules of Order. Even our current members know that name and I’m sure most have a copy of his latest edition in their club. Professor Robert continued to serve as Quota’s Parliamentarian through 1935. During this time he took an active role in offering his expertise to the organization on its progress as it related to its parliamentary law. He was introduced at the 1930 Convention as “one in our midst who has adopted Quota, and Quota has adopted him”.
Parliamentarians Through the Decades
Mrs. Harry Harvey Thomas then accepted the role, and when she could no longer carry out the responsibility, Mrs. Marie Suthers was engaged as Quota’s Parliamentarian. Marie Suthers served in the role from 1957 till her death in 1983 and not only gave classes in parliamentary procedure which were extremely engaging, but she also wrote a Guide to Parliamentary Procedure and helped with the structure of the organization. It was she who provided ideas for streamlining methods of nominations and elections for the annual conventions. In 1973, at the Convention in Toronto, Ontario, Mrs. Marie Suthers received the distinction of Honorary Member of Quota International.
Mrs. Margaret Steele followed as Quota Parliamentarian in 1983. Margaret was a quiet and gentle lady, but her parliamentarian sessions at Conventions were always well attended. Over the years she sparked the interest of convention attendees by her informative and witty workshops on parliamentary procedure.
Margaret Steele was followed by Carolyn Stubbs – Quota’s current Parliamentarian. Carolyn was a member (and still is) of Quota International of Flint, Michigan. Her interest in parliamentary procedure was sparked during her term as a member of the Board of Directors and International President in 1995-96. It took a great deal of time and dedication for Carolyn to gain her parliamentary qualifications and recognition, but she is now, and has been for a number of years, a walking encyclopedia on Robert’s Rules of Order and Quota’s Bylaws. Like her predecessors, Carolyn has provided valuable advice on structural and relevant bylaw changes needed over the past two decades to keep bylaws (and Quota!) compliant with parliamentary law.
Over the past century, these parliamentary professionals have been invaluable in guiding Quota Clubs International Inc. and Quota International Inc. in a safe and compliant direction.
Looking at “mentors” from a broader definition, “Mentorship is a relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person – it is a learning and development partnership between someone with vast experience and someone who wants to learn”. If this type of relationship between experienced leaders and newer members had not been present from the establishment of Quota in 1919 through today, our organization would not have survived (thrived, even) the 100 years that it has. In the times of member classification, professional development became a major bonus in Quota membership and leadership – Past International Presidents, Area Directors, District Governors, Regional Directors, and Club Presidents have all been willing to share their Quota knowledge and leadership skills with new and willing members – and still do!
Mentor Tools – Music and Words
In the early years, music played an important role in Quota meetings and the songs that were sung provide a keen insight into what the club represented to its members. Many of the meetings, particularly evening meetings, opened with music. Archival samples of the programs at these meetings portray a sequence of events that one might experience in church, e.g. a minister was often invited to give the invocation which was promptly followed by members singing the “Quota Song” and other favorite club songs. A member or guest would extend a greeting followed by more singing, with words written to such tunes as “Mary Lou”; “Jingle Bells”; “How Can I Leave Thee” and “Marching Through Georgia”. This style of program at the time reflected members’ passion for friendships and companionship. Friendships fostered in the club seemed to bring out the “fun loving, carefree spirit” of the “girls” who attended the meetings.
Quota – that’s the Club I shout for,
That’s where I love to be,
Pals there are dear to me, Friends are sincerity.
I rush to be there
And to mingle with those girls that I am proud to know
It’s the Club that proves our loyalty,
Everybody has the time to sing to thee
Of Quota, that dear fine Quota Club,
In good old Worcester town.
It’s important to note the telling line that clearly points to the elite atmosphere of the club: “to mingle with those girls that I am proud to know” . Lines such as these hint that those Quota members were proud to be with women of a privileged class and who were symbols of status in the community. They were, in essence, the “cream of the crop” – the women who supposedly could wield the most power within the community to bring about change. Very few of the songs, if any, mention that they are a service club or service oriented.
Other Quota initiatives could be considered a “mentoring tool” for members. The Quotarian – a monthly magazine in its early days – extolled the femininity of members and contained features that reinforced the notion that professional women were indeed feminine – they could work AND fit the dominant notions of what a woman should be. Women like Wanda Frey Joiner and International President Catherine Olney, in addition to all Quotarians, were the exception in an era when women were expected to set their sights on marriage and keeping house. As professional women, their Quota club provided a supportive and nurturing refuge where they could sing songs, throw decorative parties and themed meetings, and give service to the community. Their club service gave them the license to meet – after all, women were supposed to be nurturing and help those in need. Therefore, Quota members were able to achieve their primary objective – enjoying the rewards that professional life had to offer –while still playing out the 1920’s dominant notions of “femininity” within their own club.
Many decades later, Australian Quotarians sang “The End of a Quota Day” to the tune of ‘End of a Perfect Day’ at the conclusion of all Quota conferences and gatherings, with the same feeling of “girls I am proud to know”.
Additionally, failing to mention “The Quota Collect” in the context of “mentoring tools” used by Quotarians would be to ignore what could be considered to be Quota’s “soul”. Quota’s bylaws have always described the organization’s policies as nonpartisan, nonsectarian and without racial discrimination; “The Quota Collect” speaks to all members regardless of country, race, or religion.
Quench in our hearts, O Lord, all fires of selfishness,
Unfold to us the joys of true friendship,
Open our minds to a better understanding of service,
Teach us the real meaning of sharing,
And help us to hold high those principles of Quota for which we stand.
Used by some clubs as an Invocation, by others as a Benediction, “The Quota Collect” was written by Miss B. Ethelda Mullen, a charter member of the Wilmington, Delaware club, in 1923. Her working life revolved around improving the welfare of children and women who needed a extra support in her community, and she received many awards and much recognition for this work. The collect was copyrighted by Quota International Inc. in 1942 and in 1951, Ethelda was named an Honorary Member of Quota International at the Quebec Convention in Canada.
Modern technology has enabled us to transfer a cassette tape recording made not long prior to her death in 1980 onto our current web site. The tape records a presentation to Ethelda Mullen at which she explained that she had written “The Quota Collect” one night after she had gone home from a Quota meeting. She wanted to put into words what her Quota membership meant to her and the tape concludes with her personal reciting of “The Quota Collect”.
September – Quota’s Service goes International
Want to print and distribute these messages to your club? Click HERE to access the printable PDF archive of this series.