Bay Ridge luncheon raises money for scholarships
Kassenbrock program encourages students to perform community service
Hundreds of people turned out at the Bay Ridge Manor catering hall on Sunday to enjoy lunch, enter a raffle to win prizes and raise money for a scholarship fund for local students.
The administrators of the Kassenbrock Brothers Memorial Scholarship Fund held their annual luncheon on March 8, attracting a large crowd of local residents eager to help the organization raise money to be able to continue its 42-year-old tradition of awarding scholarships to college-bound high school seniors.
The fund, which was established in 1973, is named in memory of Vincent and Walter Kassenbrock, the founders of the Bay Ridge Community Council, an umbrella organization representing nearly 100 smaller groups in Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Fort Hamilton.
The fund grants scholarships ranging from $1,500 to $5,000 to 16 high school students each year. In order to qualify for scholarships, students must maintain good grades and demonstrate a record of performing community service projects. Students have done everything from clean local parks to conducting food drives to visiting senior citizen centers for their community service projects.
“Each year, we are amazed at the number of applications we get,” said Mary Ann Walsh, the chief administrator of the fund.
The scholarship winners will be announced later this year. Past winners have included Councilmember Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) and Andrew Gounardes, chief counsel to Borough President Eric Adams.
Walsh said $40,000 in scholarships was awarded last year. “This is very much a credit to our faithful supporters,” she said, praising the donations that have poured into the fund.
The organization holds two major fund-raisers a year; the luncheon and a bus trip to Atlantic City. In addition, individuals have donated money, often in memory of a deceased loved one, to the scholarship fund over the years.
Adams and state Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-Southwest Brooklyn) both stopped by the luncheon to praise the Kassenbrock Fund. Adams called the fund “an organization that tells young people to volunteer.” Compassion, the borough president said, is “a gift that keeps on giving.”
The luncheon raises money through an admission fee and the selling of raffle tickets. Guests purchase raffle tickets for a chance to win gift baskets and gift certificates donated by local businesses. The prizes ranged from a Kate Spade pocketbook to a pearl necklace to a coffee maker to a painting depicting John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton.
In a highlight of the afternoon, Gentile presented a bouquet of flowers to Jean Rosse, a donor to the fund who celebrated her 101st birthday on Sunday.
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