QUINCY — Susan Scholz doesn’t want to make a big deal out of becoming the first woman to join the Quincy Exchange Club.
She wants to focus on her excitement to be part of what is known as “Quincy’s finest hour.”
“I am proud and privileged to be a member of the Quincy Exchange Club,” she said. “I am even more proud that I am the one who, quote unquote, broke the barrier here.”
The Exchange Club traces its roots in Quincy to 1925, when organizers from the National Exchange Club in Toledo, Ohio., began soliciting men to “exchange ideas.” The club was chartered in 1926 but disbanded during World War II. After the war ended, Wilbur Morse, a field representative from the national club, began efforts to restore the Quincy club in December 1945. The club first met on Jan. 4, 1946 in the Lincoln-Douglas Hotel.
The Exchange Club amended its national constitution in 1985, opening membership for the first time to women. Two women eventually were named the national president of the Exchange Club.
‘Why now? Because I was given the opportunity’
Many women have been guest speakers at the Quincy Exchange Club’s weekly lunch meetings, held at noon on Friday at The Elk’s.
But while many of Quincy’s service clubs such as Kiwanis and Rotary have been co-ed for years, the Quincy Exchange Club remained male-only, until Scholz joined the club in October.
“Why now? Because I was given the opportunity,” said Scholz, one of the partners with Golden Bridges, which assists older adults and their families with the emotional and physical aspects of relocation. ”I don’t want to make a big deal out of being the first woman to join the club. I just wanted the opportunity … and it was time.”
Scholz has had a running challenge for years with her sponsor, Bill Stalder.
“He would post things on Facebook about what the club was doing, and my reply would be,
‘Gosh, if I were only a member, I could help with that,’” Scholz said with a laugh. “For several years, it was just kind of a joke.
“This year, when Bill and his wife Brenda were named the chairs of the Light Your Way campaign at the Quincy Community Theater, the Exchange Club made a donation. I reached out to Bill and said if I were a member of the Exchange Club, I could match that donation. That was the catalyst. That was the opportunity for him to say, ‘I think this needs to happen.’”
Quincy club has about 75 members
Scholz also has been a member of the diversity and inclusion committee with the Chamber of Commerce. She also was on the Human Rights Commission.
“Each experience was wonderful,” she said. “I learned a lot, and I shared a lot, but I really was looking for an opportunity for service. (The Exchange Club’s) mission allows me to find service opportunities.”
President Eric Dolieslager says the Quincy Exchange Club has about 75 members.
“I’ve been very focused on keeping our existing membership base steady, as well as the recruitment of new members,” he said. “The more membership we have, the more revenue that will be produced that, in turn, we can put back into the community. We’re very excited about Susan joining, and we look for all potential folks to look at considering joining the club.
“Susan becoming the first female member is memorable and historic from that standpoint. We’ve always been engaged in recruiting as many folks as we possibly can from all demographics. It’s a great time to join the Quincy Exchange Club. It’s always been a wonderful organization to be part of.”
Scholz believes she won’t be the only woman in the club for long.
“I know for a fact there are other (club members) who are inviting women to come as potential members,” she said. “I’m sure there will be more applications before the end of the year.”
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