Friday, November 8, 2019

Zonta Club of Elmira at 100 Years

Zonta International is celebrating its 100th Anniversary in 2019. The Zonta Club of Elmira was one of the organization’s first clubs established in 1919. For the last hundred years, the club has served our local community, sponsoring activities for children, awarding scholarships, and working with other charitable organizations.

Zonta Conference at the Mark Twain Hotel, 1959
Photo courtesy of Elmira Zonta
On November 8, 1919, the Confederation of Zonta Clubs was founded in Buffalo, New York. Representatives from Elmira were there for the creation of the first five clubs. The Zonta Club of Elmira was made up of women who had been members of the Elmira Business Women’s Club and it had 18 charter members. Zonta was created as a club for professional and executive business women. Membership was based on business classification, similar to men’s clubs like Rotary and Kiwanis, with two women per job description being allowed in the club. Zonta International’s job book lists more than 11,000 classifications.

Elmira/Southport Cinderella softball team sponsored by Zonta
Photo courtesy of Elmira Zonta
From the very beginning, the local Zonta Club has lived up to the code: “To honor my work and to consider it an opportunity for service.” In the same year it was founded, the club hosted a Christmas party at the Home for the Aged. In the 1920s, it became involved in Near East and European Relief Funds and hosted a celebration for the wives, daughters, sisters, and children of immigrants who had become naturalized citizens.

Zonta has supported legislation concerning the welfare of women and children through the years and has held “baby showers” to collect items to support the Southern Tier Pregnancy Resource Center.

The club also awards scholarships to Chemung County students who are planning to attend college or graduate school during the following year. The student’s record of community service is one of the most important factors in deciding who will receive the scholarships.

Zonta Club bicentennial parade float, 1976
Photo courtesy of Elmira Zonta
In 1965, Elmira’s Zonta Club announced its intention to establish a boarding house for retired members who were in need of decent, inexpensive housing. Three years later, it purchased the building at 742 W. First Street, which had previously operated as a nursing home. By the time the Zonta House officially opened in 1972, new subsidized apartments had reduced the need for housing, but it served as the headquarters for the club. Elmira’s Zonta House is the only one of its kind in the United States. The club continues to use the house for weekly meetings and monthly public lectures. The club also runs the Ida V. Shop on the property.

The Zonta House, 742 w. First Street, Elmira
Photo courtesy of Elmira Zonta

Learn more about the Zonta Club of Elmira at their website and on their Facebook page.  

No comments:

Post a Comment