Ann L. Hogan has always believed that not only should a person strive to achieve personal success in their own lives, they must go out and serve others. Service to others, she says, not only gives meaning to your own life, it makes life better for others.
“Service should be an element of everyone's life. People need to have that experience of giving to others,” says Hogan, 83, a retired school teacher from Pawtucket.
Hogan's lessons in service started as a child. Her late mother, Martha, was a volunteer working with the deaf and blind at the Rhode Island School for the Deaf so she learned at a very young age what it meant to be selfless and put others before yourself.
When Hogan graduated from Rhode Island College and Boston University in the early 1970's she was ready to start out on her own path of service to others. In tandem with her lifelong profession as a teacher, she was heavily involved with the Girl Scouts of the United States of America, the General Federation of Women's Clubs, and, the organization she would end up devoting her time and energy to for the next 40 years — Quota Club International, the first international women's club that celebrates its 93rd anniversary this month.
A Quotarian with Quota International of Pawtucket since 1973, Hogan says the 82-year-old Pawtucket club has been the perfect vehicle to serve and offer opportunity to others.
“I love service work and being a Quotarian has given me the opportunity to join other like-minded women who have the same ideals,” she says.
Quota International was founded by a group of five Buffalo, New York business women — Florence M. Smith, Alice C. Sauers, Ora G. Cole, Jean Ware Redpath and Wanda Frey Joiner — who were attending a ladies night Christmas event at the Buffalo Kiwanis Club in December 1918. That night, they decided they wanted to create a similar place where women could unite for a common purpose and make their efforts count. So, two months later, on Feb. 6, 1919, the group formed Quota Club International, Inc., later renamed Quota International, Inc.
Frey Joiner was elected as the first president and Quota International’s first headquarters were located in Buffalo.
The group wanted a name that was short, memorable and that reflected the ideals of the five original members. One of the founding members, paging through the dictionary, came upon the Latin word, “quota,” meaning “a share of one part to a whole.”
The organization of local clubs soon followed, with clubs springing up around New York State and Pennsylvania. C0-founder Ora Cole traveled more than 5,000 miles by rail and another 3,000 miles by car to help clubs set up. Within four years, membership had risen to over 1,000 women, and clubs were established in Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and Ohio. In 1925, the organization went international with the formation of a club in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. By 1929, clubs were established as far south as Georgia and throughout the Midwest and Northeast, and Quota International had a membership of 2,500.
Quota's membership today includes women as well as men in about 300 clubs in 14 countries in North America, South America, the South Pacific, Europe, Southeast Asia, and the Caribbean.
With a motto of “We Share,” Quota International is known especially for its service to disadvantaged women and children and to people who are deaf, hard of hearing, and speech-impaired. Worldwide, Quota club members donate hundreds of thousands of hours and more than a million dollars each year to address local and international needs. The organizaton's award-winning charitable arm, We Share Foundation, supports Quota programs and provides information and tools for volunteers to make the most of service efforts and humanitarian aid.
The international organization is governed by a nine-member board of directors. Quota International’s operations and programs are administered by a staff team located in Washington, D.C. A satellite office is located in Margate, Australia.
Quota International, Inc., is funded primarily through member dues. The Quota International, Inc., Wanda Frey Joiner Development Fund, funded solely by donations received from members and clubs, finances Quota International’s development and growth activities and programs including the Leaders as Listeners strategic initiative.
In recent years, Quota International has been losing more individual members and more clubs than it has been gaining on an annual basis.
In 2010, Quota International launched the “Creating the Quota of Tomorrow” Research and Development plan to expand Quota International’s service impact worldwide while translating and extending the Quota service experience to new generations of young people.
The plan includes six steps, some of which are research steps with outcomes unknown, to be completed by Dec. 31, 2012. These activities are over and above Quota International's continued and ongoing operations.
“These days it's very difficult to sustain clubs,” says Hogan. “Women are working and raising families and there are too many time constraints.”
Ocean State Quotarians
Quota International is comprised of 43 districts, inlcuding Disrict 15, which includes Quota International of Pawtucket, Quota International of Woonsocket and Quota International of Taunton.
The Pawtucket and Woonsocket clubs are the only remaining Quota clubs left in Rhode Island, which at one time had upwards of 11 clubs over the years, including one in Providence that disbanded 20 years ago.
The only other Massachusetts Quota clubs besides Taunton are Andover and Lawrence in District 22, which also includes Dover and Manchester, N.H.
Quota International of Woonsocket is 79-years-old this year and was chartered on June 14, 1933 at a convention in Swampscott, Mass. Today, the club has 47 members, including Ray Gaboury, the club's only male member. Gaboury made history in 2008 when he was named the club's first male president and first male Quota club president in Rhode Island. He is now governor of District 15.
Besides being visible at bazaars, flea markets, breakfasts, farmers markets and Woonsocket's popular Autumnfest celebration, Quota International of Woonsocket has helped raise funds for numerous organizations such as the Stadium Theatre, Adopt-a-Family Program, Rhode Island School for the Deaf, Northern Rhode Island YWCA, RSVP (Success Wear Connecting for Children and Families of Woonsocket), Sojourner House in Woonsocket and the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families.
According to Quota International of Woonsocket President Irene Heroux, the local club also helps students by offering two $1,000 scholarships to high school seniors majoring in speech and hearing.
Donating money as well as time, the club holds two clothing drives a year and has assisted over the years with Quota International projects, including Heifer International to end hunger; Smile Train, the world's leading cleft charity; and Project Peanut Butter.
The club holds numerous fundraisers throughout the year, including bake sales, flea markets and holiday bazaars.
“You have to raise money to give it away,” says Heroux, 67, a Quotarian for the past 12 years and past District 15 governor from 2009-2011.
“I had a friend who was a member and she said Quota would be perfect for me. I joined and I've been in an officers capacity in one way or another ever since,” she says. “What I love about Quota International is the friendships I've made as well as the satisfaction of being able to provide financial assistance to people who really need it.”
The 29-member Quota International of Pawtucket was chartered on May 27, 1930. Members hail from various communities, including Cumberland, Lincoln and Seekonk. Meetings are held the first Wednesday of the month from September to June. Meetings includes club business, dinner, and either a service activity or a program. Annual dues are paid by each member to help support the organization on both the international and district level.
According to Quota International of Pawtucket President Judy Gugel, the club focuses on two unified service projects - helping disadvantaged women and children and assiting those who are deaf or speech impaired. In addition, club members participate in community service and hand-in-hand world projects.
“Pawtucket Quotarians are also involved in a variety of personal volunteer services within the community,” says Gugel, 62, a Quotarian for the past four years. “As a group, the club has given support to the hearing impaired via academic scholarship and financial aid. Our Quota club is committed to promoting healthy hearing by providing free earplugs in numerous locations.”
The club’s focus, she says, is on the disadvantaged through its service to the YWCA Homestead in Central Falls, a facility for single disadvantaged women. It was at Homestead that the Quotarians created a beautiful flower garden for the residents, who helped water and tend the garden during the week.
Before it closed, the club had provided many years of service to children and their families at the YWCA Early Childhood Learning Center. The club currently services children at the Boys and Girls Club of Pawtucket.
“We also support the ARC of Blackstone Valley by volunteering hours to them when needed and supporting their programs, such as purchasing flowers from the Daggett Farm Greenhouse at Slater Park in Pawtucket,” said Gugel.
Gugel, a retired school teacher who will complete the first year of her presidency in May, had not been familiar with Quota International until a friend, also a retired teacher, invited her to a meeting of thePawtucket club.
“I thought I'd give it a try,” she said. “When I retired in 2007, I wanted to get involved in service and volunteer work and I was very impressed with the work the Quotarians were doing with homeless women. Many of our members do volunteer work outside the club as well.”
“I really enjoy the comraderie of the club, and, of course, the service work we do,” she says. “I enjoy being involved in something that does good things for other people and makes a difference in their lives.”
This past Tuesday, members of Quota International of Pawtucket and Quota International of Woonsocket joined together at the Hearth 'n Kettle restaurant in Attleboro to pass around birthday cake in celebration of Quota International's founding on Feb. 6, 1919.
“Every year the two clubs get together to celebrate this important date in history,” says Heroux. “It's just a great time being with other women and men who share the same values of serving and encouraging others, developing friendships, and promoting international understanding. Thats' what being a Quotarian is all about.”