(From left) Great Falls Friends and Neighbors member Sally-Anne Andrew Pyne, who spearheaded the establishment of a GFFN Scholarship Fund in the memory of selfless club member Holly Ann Kuga (1947-2020), joins Kuga’s daughter Katherine Kuga Wenner and husband of 50 years, Dr. Robert E. Kuga of Great Falls, at the GFFN Scholarship Fund Spring Tea 2021.
Photo courtesy of GFFN Scholarship Fund
The Great Falls Friends and Neighbors Scholarship Fund held its Spring Tea 2021 fundraiser on Sunday, April 25. According to member Emma Reynolds, seventy-nine individuals attended the ticketed, hybrid event, some virtually and some in-person, under Covid-limited capacity at River Bend Golf and Country Club in Great Falls. In conjunction with the 2021 Spring Tea, the Scholarship Fund is establishing a scholarship in memory of Holly Ann Kuga, a long-standing member of GFFN and a beloved friend and supporter of the Fund, according to a press release.
The event included comments, a talk about tea and a tea tasting, and a raffle to benefit the Scholarship fund. The Fund’s directive is to award scholarships to deserving women over the age of 25 who are Northern Virginia residents. They must demonstrate a financial need and be in good academic standing.
CO-PRESIDENT of the Scholarship Fund, Christie Lavin, welcomed guests saying, “I’ve been thinking and dreaming about this event for a long time. It’s such a joy to see it all come together on this beautiful day.” This year’s Spring Tea started simple and well-defined, according to Lavin, then grew into something much bigger.
There was a tremendous amount of interest and support for the women students and then for Holly Ann Kuga, an active volunteer for the Scholarship Fund who passed away after a tragic car crash in December. “This outpouring of love for her from her friends here in Great Falls and in Great Falls Friends and Neighbors led to our decision to establish a scholarship in her name, spearheaded by Sally-Anne Andrew Pyne, who has been working with us behind the scenes for months,” said Lavin.
Through donations, contributions from the Scholarship Fund, and the Kuga family, a scholarship in Kuga’s name totaled $7,200 the evening of the tea, according to Reynolds, with funds still coming in.
“This will fund a $1,000 scholarship to a deserving student every year, which means that we will have seven years ahead of us to grant these awards in her name,” said Lavin. “The family intends to set this scholarship in perpetuity,” she said.
Katherine “Katie” Kuga Wenner, Holly Ann Kuga’s daughter, thanked everyone for supporting her and her father, Dr. Robert Kuga, and celebrating her mother. “On behalf of my father and me, it means the world to us you are all here… (My mom) was a person of extraordinary generosity, compassion, wits, and intellect…She always thought of others and never herself.” Wenner said that the Scholarship Fund was a perfect way to remember her mother. It recognizes extraordinary women and provides them financial assistance to pursue a degree in higher education.
SCHOLARSHIP AWARDEE Yewon “Cathy” Yoo overcame obstacles due to family obligations. She is a full-time undergraduate student and majoring in accounting at George Mason University. She is participating in a program called Accelerated Master’s in Accountancy.
During her comments at the tea, presented virtually, Yoo said she is a daughter in an immigrant family and was in charge of running the family business since her parents spoke little English. They depended on her. She held off on her education until two siblings finished college and her father studied for his Ph.D. Working part-time at a public accounting firm, she put funds aside for education. As her first step, she attended Northern Virginia Community College and earned an Associate Degree in Business with a 4.0 GPA.
Yoo said she works 30 hours a week to take care of her housing and tuition while studying full-time. She anticipates earning her master’s degree by May 2021 and CPA license by spring 2022. She thanked the organization for the ($1,500) scholarship. It will make a difference.
In addition to granting scholarships generated from its endowments, the Great Falls Friends and Neighbors Scholarship Fund grants individual scholarships from money raised through its annual fundraisers. Over the past four years, it has awarded scholarships to 32 students for a total of $40,900. To learn more about the Scholarship Fund, visit https://www.gffnsf.org/.
Many individuals, businesses, and others supported the GFFN Scholarship Fund Spring Tea 2021. A list is provided on the organization’s website.