Founded by Beverly Porway and Craig Rutman - Just two lifelong Dead Heads who decided that it was time to do something to give back to the band who has provided the soundtrack to our lives. So we decided to fundraise for causes that are near and dear to the band (HeadCount, ReVerb, Why Hunger).
We recruited some like minded friends (Ken Eisler, Michelle Cirkus, Mark Porter and Julie Babat) to get the ball rolling. We held "Waffles" and "Jauctions", which are our underground code words for Raffles and Auctions, in our private Facebook group. Members of the group, which is over 3,000 strong donated artwork, crafts, posters, band memorabilia, CD's and band signed photos and more. HeadCount even provided us with some signed by Bob Weir posters! Members would bid on the larger items in the jauctions, and for the smaller items, members would purchase "waffle" tickets. Then we held live streamed waffles, drawing random names as the prize winners.
Every year our fundraising events were well received by the group, which we called "The PITS Crew" at first, and then it evolved into "JAMily".
- Year 1 we raised $1,600.
- Year 2 we raised $6,500 which Mickey doubled for a total of $13,000.
- Year 3 we raised $20,000!
- And year 4 we raised $16,000.
Since its inception, and much like the Grateful Dead over the years, The PITS Crew/ JAMily has evolved too. Some folks moved on, some folks took a larger role, and our dear friend Ken has passed away. But in the end, the collective thought remains: Do SOMETHING GOOD for the band, for the Participation Row nonprofits, for the community. So, the wheels keep spinning with thoughts of how the group raises more, how to do more, and how to make an impact on the world we're living in.
Written by: Craig Rutman