In 1948, the Zonta Club of Windsor, under the direction of Miss Edna Nairn, did the initial work to spark interest for forming a new club for women in Chatham and Kent County. A preliminary meeting was held at the home of Mrs. Mildred Fisher on April 20. The task of finding women who were committed to advancing the status of women began. Temporary officers were put in place and plans began for the charter dinner in September of the same year. Considering the post war times, the women who chose to belong showed foresight and commitment to following the ideals of Zonta.
Early projects undertaken by the Chatham-Kent Club included:
- offering support to children with Cerebral Palsy,
- collecting clothing and food to send overseas,
- making contributions to a variety of health charities.
In September 1948, the Chatham Daily News covered the Charter Dinner and installation of Officers.
Pearl Wilson became the first Charter President and initial members included: Phyllis Grand, Vera (Baughman) Armstrong, Dorothy Reynolds, Eileen Walker, Emma Veale, Priscilla Campbell, Pam Haney, Mildred Fisher, Bessie Grieve, Audrey Langford, Sara Noble, Phyllis Thomson, Delmarion Rutherford, Jean Wolverton, Grace White, Helen Pilkey, Jem Trotter and Louise Schryver. Miss Nairn, from Windsor, went on to become Zonta International President, 1966-1968.
Dignitaries from Michigan, Ohio and southwestern Ontario attended to welcome the latest club to the then District 5 (now District 15) of Zonta International. As was the custom of the day, the head table guests were listed in the report (as well as having the gowns they wore described). Guests included Zonta District 5 Chair Miss Grace Beck, the Mayor of Chatham Ralph D. Steele, past international presidents Louise Grace, Ethel Francis, and Helen Cleveland (the first Canadian International President). Two Zontians from Dallas Texas attended to bring greetings and others attended from Ann Arbor, Chatham, Detroit, Flint, Hamilton, Highland Park, Lansing, Pontiac, Port Huron, Saginaw, St. Catharines, Toledo, Toronto, and Windsor. Considering it was 1948, it speaks to the importance of Zonta’s causes and service that people traveled so far to recognize and support the formation of the new club in Chatham.
Today there still is much to do to assist women both locally and internationally to improve their economic standing, health, education, social and cultural life. In 1948 a dedicated group of women embarked on an important and groundbreaking journey. An equally dedicated and motivated group of women continue that work today.
Consider becoming a member: new voices, diverse experiences and young activists welcome.