Thursday, December 1, 2011

Quota International of Amherst

Working as a fundraiser and community relations director, I’ve come in contact with many organizations and people who are very charitable in the Buffalo area. There’s one organization, to me, that stands above the rest; Quota International of Amherst.

Quota International has its roots in the Buffalo area. The organization was founded in Buffalo in 1919 by five women. The organization became "international" when a Quota club was formed in Winnepeg, Canada. Today there are clubs in 14 countries worldwide.

From the very beginning, the mission of Quota International has been to serve the community. The Amherst club was chartered in 1942, and since then, men and women throughout the area have been raising funds to support many worthy causes in the Buffalo area. Special emphasis is placed on aid to the deaf, hearing and speech impaired, and aid to disadvantaged women and children. Some of the organizations they have raised funds for include St. Mary’s School for the Deaf, Gerard Place, Canine Helpers for the Handicapped, Haven House, The Family Justice Center and Mercy Flight, to name a few. Additionally, each year they give a scholarship out to a student enrolled in the Deaf Education Program at Canisius College.

While many organizations will write a check (and that’s always appreciated), Quota International of Amherst takes it one step further. Members attend fundraising events for the groups they help, “check in” with the organizations to see what they are up to, and give up their free time to volunteer at events and outings the organizations they serve have.

I’ve been fortunate through my job at St. Mary’s School for the Deaf to meet and get to know the extraordinary women and men who truly make a difference in the Buffalo area. They have big hearts, and make me feel like a part of the Quota family whenever I see them. It is a group worth joining and learning more about.

Over the past 10 years, Quota International of Amherst President Kathy Bucierka told me they have raised around $65,000 for Buffalo non-profits (IMPRESSIVE!). Their biggest fundraising event of the year is a fashion show and lunch held at The Hearthstone Manor. For the past three years I’ve been asked to be a model at the event, and it is one of my favorite things to do. During the event they have well over 150 basket raffles as well as other “bigger ticket” items too. They have a fun theme every year and it’s really become a well known fundraising event in the area (typically they have around 350-400 guests). All the money raised at this, and other events throughout the year goes directly back to the community.

During the holiday season they pick one local organization and ask them to provide the members with a “wish list” of items they need. During their December meeting, each member brings their personal donations and items are displayed on a table. A representative from the recipient organization gives a presentation about the mission, and it is always a very moving night.

In June, they have their service awards dinner where they present checks to the charities they support. Again, each organization receiving a donation makes a short presentation about what is going on. I’ve been at three of them now, and made the presentation about St. Mary’s School for the Deaf once, and it always brings me to tears. I feel fortunate to be a part of a community as giving as Buffalo is, and am lucky to share in that special night with Quota International of Amherst.

Though their work is primarily focused on helping organizations in the Buffalo area, their support reaches internationally as well. Quota International helps fund the We Share Foundation, which provides services around the world.

When I spoke with Quota President Kathy about what Quota means to her, she had this to say; "It’s a fun and talented group of people who are extremely committed to the club’s mission. Our members are busy people but we have joined to help others and to enjoy the camaraderie and friendships developed with each other that will last a lifetime. In addition, Quota offers opportunities to travel and make new friends from around our country as well as abroad. In Quota, we also enhance our personal growth and network with interesting people while learning management and leadership skills that carry over into our personal and professional lives."

The Quota members I have gotten to know (Kathy and her sister Robin Miller being two of them) are a talented, fun, kind and caring group of women and men who genuinely want to make a difference in the lives of Buffalonians. While they don't often receive the public recognition they deserve, they truly have made a difference, and I've seen it firsthand.

For those wanting to make some new friends and help out a lot of great organizations in Buffalo, this is one group you need to check out. Each month the group meets on the first Thursday of the month for business meetings and the third Thursday of the month for dinners. Additionally, groups and committees within the organization meet to plan and prepare for fundraising activities.

Membership is open to women and men of all ages. You can find out more information about becoming a member by logging onto their website or by calling 716-799-0981. I truly hope you do give them a few minutes of your time to learn more about what they do.

Quota members (and sisters) Robin Miller (left)
& Kathy Bucierka (right) volunteer their time
to support St. Mary's School for the Deaf at
a rally in Albany in March 2011.

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