By Christine Thomas
Although Punahou’s largest donations tend to draw the most attention, most contributions to the School – about 96% – are small-to-moderate gifts. “Gifts to Punahou come in all shapes and sizes, and every one of them is cherished,” says Holly Paulson ’87 Sereni, senior director of development. Thus, in honor of our full breadth of donors, we are featuring three alumni who have demonstrated a true commitment to the School with their much-appreciated gifts.
Dianne Ige ’67
Dianne Ige ’67 didn’t expect to live so far from home for so much of her life. After graduating from Punahou, she ventured to the East Coast and built a fulfilling career in fashion merchandising in New York City, before returning to Hawai‘i upon retirement.
Throughout her working years, Ige sustained her connection to Punahou through consistent annual giving, donating every year since graduating in 1967. “The consistency of giving helped me feel connected,” she said. “It created regular contact with the School, as opposed to just at every Reunion or during a big fundraising event. This is what I do. I do it every year, and it feels good.”
Ige likens her commitment to building a 401(k). Rather than making one large deposit, she regularly contributes – knowing down the road, it can build to something substantive. “It’s something you hardly even feel, and yet, you’re doing something positive,” Ige said. “Punahou was a large part of my growing up. But it’s longer lasting than that. It exposed me to so many different things that sparked my curiosity for life.”
She fondly recalls how Punahou exposed her to subjects, such as art history, that helped her become well rounded. And she’s thankful for all the ways Punahou connects alumni across the globe through Reunions and other events, along with the Bulletin. “This is a way of saying thank you,” she said. “Thanks for keeping in touch, for what you’ve done in the past, and what you continue to do for the current generation.”
Vanessa Van Gorder ’95 Distajo
Community service shapes many of Vanessa Van Gorder ’95 Distajo’s choices. It’s a value she traces to her senior year at Punahou, when she served on a committee that helped plan the Luke Center for Public Service, which launched in 2002. That experience inspired her to serve on boards of various local nonprofits, and eventually to pursue a career in education. For her 25th reunion, Distajo wanted to make a gift to Punahou that would have a long-term impact on both the School and the community.
An outright gift to the Luke Center made perfect sense initially. “It was the most meaningful way for me to contribute since it’s a program that cultivates social responsibility in the next generation through immediate action,” Distajo says.
She also decided to make a planned gift, designating Punahou as a beneficiary. “Education is a huge part of my life, and I am who I am today because of Punahou’s imprint,” Distajo says. “With a blended gift, it’s going to be a part of my legacy, too.”
Although offering a gift while raising a family may seem financially daunting, Distajo says it was important for her to give back, having been a recipient of the Dolores Furtado Martin endowed merit scholarship while she was at Punahou. “If we’re strategic about it, we can really make an impact with a blended gift,” she says.
Christopher “Goose” Moy ’05
Christopher “Goose” Moy ’05 doesn’t try to hide his passion for Punahou. “I bleed buff and blue,” he says.
To support his alma mater, Moy helps lead Punahou Alumni Association (PAA) of Northern California. He’s also been a consistent annual donor to Punahou’s financial aid fund since graduating from college, transitioning seven years ago to monthly contributions. “I want to be involved in what pushes the School forward,” he says. “I feel so grateful to be part of this community and anything I can do to help, I’ll do.”
Volunteering his time to PAA, coupled with financial gifts, are how Moy feels he can best support the School that he credits for shaping who he is today. He targets his giving toward financial aid, to offer the Punahou experience to those who might not be able to afford it.
“There’s no way my sister and I would have been able to go to Punahou without it,” says Moy, who now works in finance in San Francisco. “I had the opportunity because of somebody else’s generosity. I am where I am because of who came before me. I feel like it’s my responsibility to carry that forward.”
When Moy thinks back to chapel services that still resonate or the meeting he requested (and got) with former President Jim Scott ’70 while in fifth grade, he also now realizes all of the small things that parents pay for that donations can offset. “Punahou prepared me; it gave me perspective and exposure,” Moy says. “I don’t want to miss out on supporting that.”