Zonta International is a worldwide service organization that has empowered women and girls through service and advocacy for 100 years. The Confederation of Zonta Clubs was formed in Buffalo, New York in 1919 and became Zonta International in 1930. Today, Zonta International has nearly 1,200 clubs in 63 countries. Zonta International is a non-governmental organization which has attained prestigious general consultative status with the United Nations. while the world has changed dramatically over the last century, more that 29,000 Zontians today remain committed to the professionalism, fellowship, and service that led Zonta’s visionary founders to come together.
It was on January 5, 1948 that 21 classified executive women in business and the professions signed the Zonta International Charter #202 to become the Zonta Club of Porterville, sponsored by the Zonta Club of Bakersfield. In four short years, the charter president, Francis Marie Brey was installed as the governor of District 9 at the second District Conference held in Porterville. District 9 encompasses the five western states of Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada, California, and Utah.
Local service projects that help to improve the legal, political, economic, educational, health and professional status of women have always been the foundation of the club. The Central California Family Crisis Center, previously the Mary Baker Shelter, was adopted over 30 years ago as a major project of the club. Through substantial monetary donations, holiday gifts and parties, adoption of shelter bedrooms to decorate, construction of a calming intake room, and support of candlelight vigils and fundraisers, the Zonta Club has touched thousands of women and children who have been victims of domestic violence. To further assist women to deal with these unfortunate circumstances, the Zonta Club established an annual scholarship at Porterville College for re-entry students. Also, in 2007, utilizing a bequest from one the club’s members, a “Habitat for Humanity Building Hope” Committee was formed in the community which led the construction of homes for two single head of household women and their children. In addition, the Zonta Club has supported women’s health issues by participating in Relay for Life and breast cancer awareness projects. the club was honored for “Community Service Project of the Year” by the Porterville Chamber of Commerce for the Bosom Buddy Project that provides heart-shaped pillows, made by the members, to breast cancer patients at the Sierra View Cancer Center and Family Health Care Network.
To fund these special service projects, fundraisers have been developed which in and of themselves provide a service to the community. In the Early 1950″s, the Zonta members sold fresh orange juice to visiting pilots at the annual Fly-In at the Porterville Airport. For many years, the Zonta Club’s annual “Night at the Museum” dinner and auction raised thousands of dollars for the continues operation of this important community institution, and the Secretaries’ Day Kidnap Luncheon became a trademark of Zonta. Presently, the long-running Zonta Christmas Home Tour and the Evening of Art and Win have both become annual events to look forward to in the community.
All of the members of the Zonta Club of Porterville, both past and present, look back over the 70 years of local service and the 100 years of international service with pride and are ready to embark on the next 70 years of service to Porterville and to the world, carrying out Zonta International’s mission of empowering women through service and advocacy.