A new nonprofit started by a familiar Turlock face is hoping to spread some positivity in a year which has been anything but easy.
Turlock High School graduate and professional baseball player Kevin Kramer, along with his wife Riley Kramer, launched the Kramer Family Foundation this week — a nonprofit aimed at helping the community through any means possible, whether it be by supporting other local nonprofits or empowering specific causes. At the end of the day, the foundation just wants to do good, Kevin said.
Kevin and Riley graduated from THS in 2011, and from there, Kevin went on to win the 2013 College World Series with the UCLA Bruins before being drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the second round of the 2015 Major League Baseball Draft. He participated in 43 MLB games over two seasons from 2018 to 2019, and missed 2020 altogether after surgery on his hip.
While Kevin, Riley and their daughter Kennedy live in Arizona these days, they’re able to visit their hometown a few times a year and knew it would be where their foundation got its start.
“All of us grew up here and really cherish the time we had in Turlock,” Kevin said. “We really just wanted to find a way where we could continue the tradition of so many great nonprofits and organizations around Turlock that do really good work. We wanted to join in on that and keep helping people.”
Their first order of business? Kevin and Riley personally donated 1,000 meals in the name of their new nonprofit to help the Turlock Salvation Army feed those who are in need this holiday season, and the Kramer Family Foundation is calling upon the community to help donate even more. It’s Kevin and Riley’s hope that together, the Turlock community can give an additional 1,500 meals.
Riley said that growing up in Turlock, she was able to witness the community come together time after time.
“The Salvation Army is showing up to serve members of our beloved community; they have for years, and they continue to do so because of the generosity of this community,” she said. “We want to show up for them, and for people in this town.”
As time goes on, the Kramer Family Foundation hopes to help even more nonprofits and causes not only locally, but in other communities they’ve called home over the years as well.
“Our hope is that over the course of the first few years of our foundation, we’ll find more and more beneficiaries who we’re able to help out in their fight...We’re just asking people to donate, and we don’t care if it’s through us or not. We just want to spread the word for people to get out there and help as much as they can,” Kramer said. “I’ve been really lucky and fortunate to have visited and played in so many cool places, and to have been in a lot of small towns throughout the minor leagues. The one thing you keep coming back to is where your roots are and even though we don't live there anymore, we still feel connected to the community.”
Along with the husband-and-wife duo, the Kramer Family Foundation Board includes Turlock natives Natalie Dykzeul, James Heller, Jeremy McDonald and Kristin Bettencourt. Kevin said he and Riley had been toying with the idea of starting their own nonprofit for a couple of years, but felt the timing was finally right at the end of last year, shortly after welcoming their first child. In fact, the pair had been planning an October 2020 golf tournament as a way to announce their new foundation and kick off the fundraising, but COVID had other plans.
While events for now have been cancelled, they hope next year will be filled with dinners, golf tournaments and other fundraisers which can help the community. In the meantime, they’ve found socially-distant ways to help. Community members interested in making a difference can visit www.kramerfamilyfoundation.com and contribute to the Salvation Army meal donation effort, as well as keep up with the foundation and any future good deeds.
“Out of all the craziness that 2020 has been, we hope a little good can come out of it from our foundation,” Kevin said. “Turlock is such an awesome and unique place where everyone supports each other. I know that Turlock will always support us whether it’s financially or emotionally, and that means the world.”