Supporter Spotlight – Sam Kim

Kramden is an organization that depends on the generosity of our donors and the hard work of our volunteers. It is their support that enables thousands of students to bridge the digital divide every year. Each month, we like to take a moment to get to know one of our longtime supporters and share that conversation with our community.

This month we sat down with Sam Kim.  Sam has been volunteering at Kramden for close to 10 years and can often be found sorting through piles of parts in the laptop room, breathing new life into discarded computers. We asked him to share a bit about his experiences as Kramden volunteer.



How did you first get involved with Kramden?

I read an article in the News & Observer about Kramden.  I had just relocated to the area, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity to meet people to become involved in the community.


What keeps you coming back?

The people.  I have met some of the funniest, kindest and smartest people at Kramden.  It is one of the few places I know where people are valued for knowledge, skill and willingness to learn.  Kramden is where the cast of Big Bang Theory would hang out if they lived in the area.


What do you like most about volunteering at Kramden?

Laughter and treasure hunting.

A while back, another volunteer and I spent a few hours working on a computer.   Both of us could not identify the problem then a 12 year-old girl walked over and bam!  She fixed the problem in 20 seconds flat.  It was humbling and we still laugh about it to this day.

From time to time, we find relics from the past.  I remember finding a working “walkman” and explaining to the kids about life before Spotify, iPod, iTunes…. Back when dinosaurs roamed, men would make mixed tapes and offer it to a women as a sign of interest….  It is amazing what comes through the door to be recycled.


Is there something about Kramden’s work/mission in particular that you connect with? (e.g. computers for kids, recycling old computers, etc.) and why?

For me, the mission to bridge the digital divide is a big one.  I can make a difference with every refurbished computer.  Aside from social responsibility, environmental stewardship is evident in Kramden’s recycling program.  Every fixed computer is one less for the dump.

Last year, I lost my nephew in an automobile accident.  At 18, Jake was a brilliant mathematician with a bright career ahead of him.  It was a terrible and senseless loss, and Kramden’s message of helping kids to be their best is now even closer to my heart.


When not at Kramden, what do you like to do?

Riding my motorcycle whenever I am able.  Believe it or not, it is equipped with discarded but now repaired GPS and other things which were headed for recycling.  It just took a bit of imagination, electronic skills, and a 3D printer.

Also, contrarily to popular belief, I do have a full-time job with a biotech company in RTP.


Any fun / geeky facts about yourself you would like to share?

I really enjoy working on laptops.  They are a marvel of engineering.  When I am on the road for work, I am known to “field strip” my work laptop down to component parts before cleaning and reassembling it back.  I find it relaxing.

I know, it is super dorky, right? ….


Do you have a favorite story about your time at Kramden to share?

Last year, I met a volunteer…. a college student … who received one of our computer as a high school student.  She remembered the positive impact we had on her life and it was now her turn to volunteer to help with the next generation.  I don’t know why Generation X has a reputation for being uninspired or uninvolved…. I work with them every week and they are anything but slackers.


What made you decide to support Kramden financially in addition to giving your time as a volunteer?

Three years ago, I was listening to WUNC’s pledge drive and I realized that every reason to support the local NPR and PBS stations also applied to Kramden.

Who doesn’t want to visit a place where everyone knows your name and you are always welcomed with a smile, joke and something interesting to play with. Yeah, Kramden is “Cheers” for geeks.  Why wouldn’t I support it financially?


Anything else you would like to share?

Noooo… I am surprised that you haven’t fallen asleep by now….


Thank you Sam for all of the amazing work that you do!