Three Saratoga women are credited with founding the Summit League: Marge Dodge, Etel Lorraine and Barbara Lockhart. Marge and Etel had moved to the area when their husbands were transferred here from New York State. Both had been Junior League members in New York and became affiliated with the Palo Alto Junior League. Marge, especially, grew weary of the “long drive” to Palo Alto, as well as thinking there should be a similar organization in the Saratoga area that would benefit the immediate community. Marge and Etel presented this concept to Barbara Lockhart who enthusiastically supported the idea.
Five others were asked to join in the planning of the organization, which, it was decided, was to be based on the structure and by-laws of the Junior League. Originally it was suggested that members go sustaining when they reached age 40. This policy was not popular, as members did not wish to leave the group.
Jane Hamilton was the first Summit League president for the years 1956 to 1957, followed by Freddie Anderson. Fifteen more members joined the group and a temporary name of Assistance League was given February 28, 1957.
A name was finally selected as the group was having lunch at a member’s home with a view of the hills. “Foothill” was mentioned and ruled out because it was taken. “The Summit League” was agreed upon March 21, 1957.
On June 19, 1958, the officers of the Summit League were requested by the members to draw up Articles of Incorporation as a non-profit organization under the laws of the State of California. In September 1958, a seal for the articles of Incorporation was purchased. In October 1958, $31.37 was paid for incorporation costs. The minutes do not reflect when the state granted the Summit League status as a non-profit organization, since incorporation was granted July 2, 1958, when Summit League does not hold meetings.
Ming Quong Home had been chosen as the beneficiary of the Summit League’s efforts. At this time Ming Quong was a Presbyterian facility which provided guidance and housing for young female wards of the court.
At the February 4, 1957, meeting, it was discussed and considered desirable by the group to avoid direct affiliation with a church-sponsored home. This decision would enable the Summit League to engage in projects other than the Ming Quong Home.
In the early days Summit League mainly provided services for Ming Quong. These services consisted of working at the Ming Quong Home (even cleaning the cottage Summit League rented), staffing the Happy Dragon Thrift Shop, transporting children to various appointments, putting on birthday parties and sorting clothing and goods sent to the home by the Presbyterian Center in San Francisco. This last activity was done in the damp, dusty basement, which, it was reported, was fun anyway. Some members functioned as staff receptionist and were treated to tricks and jokes played by the children.
There were also fund-raising activities to benefit Ming Quong. One of the earliest was selling Christmas cards, Advent calendars and magazine subscriptions. In 1960 the group participated in the time-consuming activity of lovingly decorating a Christmas tree to be auctioned. Mary Anderson proudly drove it in an open van in the Los Gatos Christmas parade through the pouring rain. A kind-hearted merchant took pity on the tree and Mary and bought the tree for $175.
The first Ming Quong cottage sponsored by Summit League was on High School Court; the second on Bird Avenue and the third was Summit Cottage. Being a sponsor meant that the Summit League paid the rent on the cottage and gave monthly birthday parties. Boys had become residents at Ming Quong too.
Gradually Ming Quong had a greater support from their service organizations in addition to receiving other financial aid. Summit League began to make contributions to other organizations in the area. To raise monies the Summit League has had a variety of fund raisers: a wine-tasting party, house tours, a domino tournament, golf tournaments, garden tours, eight art shows, two tennis tournaments, a treasure sale and a concert and auction held at Paul Masson.
Early meetings were frequent and held at member’s homes. Sometimes luncheon meetings were held at La Rinconada, La Hacienda or Los Altos Country Club. Attendance was always greater when a luncheon meeting was planned. The third Thursday of the month was selected as the meeting date with no meetings in December or the summer months.
Over the years the Summit League has gained community respect and made valuable contributions and beyond that it has provided camaraderie, friendship and support among its members.
Prepared by Marcia Summers, for the occasion of the Thirtieth Anniversary Celebration, June 11, 1987.