International Affiliates

International Affiliates Activities Committee "COMAAI"

Sharing An International Love Of Gardening

National Garden Clubs, Inc, is a non-for-profit educational and horticultural, organization which began in 1891 when the first Ladies Garden Club of Athens, Georgia was founded. NGC members certainly must feel proud, for today NGC has expanded its ideals and objectives in an outstanding international level throughout all the American Continent from Canada to Argentina and also in South Africa, Australia and Japan. Among these affiliate organizations NGC has a Committee called COMAAI which I’ve been asked to introduce to you.

The International Committee we know as COMAAI was formed in 2001 by former NGC President Louis Dupre Shuster, together with Esther Pliego de Salinas, from Mexico. Its initials define it as the Committee of International Affiliates Activities. The committee was first formed by a small group representing members of garden clubs from different countries. Since then it has also grown into a large NGC international organization. The COMAAI structure is organized by the three NGC Latin American Garden Club regions of Mexico, Central America and South America. These regions have more than 330 international Spanish and Portuguese speaking members. COMAAI includes the International Flower Show Committee, an Educational School Committee, and other parallel NGC committees that usually meet during Spring NGC Conventions.

We credit the success of this international committee to the strong leadership of former COMAAI Chairmen: Esther Pliego de Salinas from Mexico; COMAAI founder, Cheryl Obediente from Panama; Sara Lambarri from Mexico; and the present Chairman, Gloria Remedi from Uruguay. These ladies have diligently worked together with their Co-Chairman: Sandy Mangels from Brazil; Guadalupe Quiroga from Mexico; and Maria Regina Viau from Guatemala, in promoting NGC objectives. All the COMAAI Committees have a Co-Chairman representing these three regions.

Following the leadership of former and present NGC Presidents, the International Affiliates (IA) have developed an extraordinary focus on education and the four NGC Schools have become one of the most important factors of this international membership. The IA Flower Show Schools (FSS) are always well attended and we benefit from a constant stream of new international judges. Silvia Wray, IA FSS Chairman, has received great admiration for translating the last Handbook for Flower Shows into Spanish and leading an international committee to publish a Digital Guide to Horticulture that focuses on species commonly judged in International Flower Shows. COMAAI also is privileged to have a well organized Educational School’s Committee that successfully manages the international schools. Each School has a Chairman and Co-Chairman, and the committee includes a Multiple Refresher Chairman, 4/5 Star Chairman and an international NGC Liaison that closely works with NGC Schools Committee.

Part of the success of COMAAI is due to the ability of its members to embrace digital communications. Having made the internet a vital tool that has effectively ended the distances between each country, a committee made of four IA members personally manage the comaai.org website and a Facebook page.

Over the years, some of us have visited the IA Garden Clubs to judge international flower shows, usually returning home impressed with the creativity of the designs and the horticultural abundance of their tropical gardens. Nevertheless, what seems to impact us the most has always been the meaningful civic services that the IA provide to their communities. Our IA members are involved in helping disaster struck or war torn areas, organizing urban gardens to feed the poor, promoting horticulture as a therapy, teaching their young how to protect nature and actively working in obtaining grants from companies to resolve urgent environmental concerns.

It is my hope that I’ve properly introduced to you our international affiliates ladies that you will often see at Convention, with large shopping bags…...please remember that they are our true ambassadors who promote our love of nature, floral design and share our commitment to protect our natural resources.

Remember to say… “Hola!”, for we shall be working together with Nancy Hargrove striving to “Plant the American Continent”!

For more information, contact:
Idalia de Aguilar, IA Liaison to NGC President Nancy Hargroves