The ripple effect of one humble and generous Board Member's transformative gift

A Thanksgiving Story

“It wasn’t that hard to do…”

(The ripple effect of one humble and generous Board Member’s transformative gift)

When Buckelew Programs Board Member Judy Kramer’s beloved “auntie-in-law” passed away, and she learned that she was going to be receiving a significant inheritance, she asked herself:
“What do I want to do?”

“We were fortunate that our children had already graduated from college and were gainfully employed and doing well,” says Judy.

She could have chosen to remodel her house. To buy a boat. To travel to exotic places. Instead, she and her husband, Larry Andow, chose to honor their aunt’s legacy with a transformative $250,000 gift to Buckelew Programs.

“I had been hearing about the importance of adopting an electronic health record system for a long time in board meetings, and I understood that investing in advanced technology will help us meet the highest standards of excellence in caring for our clients,” remembers Judy. “It just seemed obvious to me that if I could help Buckelew Programs get over the initial financial hurdle of implementing a system like that, that’s what I would want to do.”

Buckelew Programs is committed to addressing the needs of people with mental health and substance abuse challenges from a whole-person-care perspective—mental and physical health, social and economic needs, housing, jobs and community integration. A single, unified Electronic Health Record (EHR) system will help to provide optimal care coordination for our clients and provide us with critical data that will help identify whether we are achieving quality outcomes and where we need to improve performance.

Even though her aunt, the youngest of five children, born to Japanese immigrant parents in the US before World War II, never owned a computer, Judy believes that she would have approved of the gift and understood its significance.

Sophia Andow lived alone on a farm in California’s Central Valley. “If you met her, you would have found her a quiet, reserved Japanese woman. But she was also passionate and vibrant. She was an avid reader and always kept up on the news. Education was very important to her and her family. Her father gave all of his children money to invest, and throughout her lifetime, Sophia supported more than 20 non-profit organizations on a regular basis. I could see her embracing the mission of Buckelew Programs and the meaning of the EHR for Buckelew’s future.”

As much as Judy recognizes the transformative effect of her gift to Buckelew Programs, she is very humble and matter of fact about her giving: “It wasn’t that hard to do. We support a lot of worthy causes by donating money and time. This is an unusually large gift for us, but you don’t have to be Bill Gates. Giving smaller amounts can be just as meaningful. We aren’t about amassing a huge estate, we like to spend our money on things that matter to us now, whether it’s going on a hiking trip with our children or supporting a cause we feel passionate about. It’s important to us to share the value of the richness of non-material things with our children, and inspire them to give back. It’s part of our way of being.”

Speaking of inspiration… The ripple effect of Judy’s philanthropy doesn’t end here. When another donor (who chose to remain anonymous) learned that one of Buckelew’s board members had made a significant gift in support of this seminal project for the organization, it inspired them to increase their own contribution to match it.

“When I heard that my donation in some way helped facilitate this other major gift, it warmed my heart as much as making my gift in the first place,” says Judy.


Judy Kramer joined the Buckelew board in June 2015. She manages 10,000 Degrees Academic Support, a non-profit program whose volunteers work with struggling students at Title I schools throughout Marin County. Previously she ran Experience Corps Marin, a non-profit focused on early literacy. When one of her volunteers introduced Judy to Buckelew, she was most impressed by the breadth of its services and its longevity. She knows how important it is to provide a continuum of care and support from her experience within her own family of alcoholism, depression and bi-polar disorder. Judy previously spent two decades at Bank of America in positions focused on large corporate clients. She has long been an active volunteer and leader with a number of Bay Area non-profits. Judy has a BA from Harvard University and an MBA from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.