A Community Jam to Fight Poverty

They say one act of giving gives way to subsequent acts of kindness. In Rich Lerner’s case, that age-old saying held true.

The local musician decided to start Groove Jam — an annual music festival showcasing local bands and benefitting Greensboro Urban Ministry – after attending fellow musician Warren Haynes’ own music festival in Asheville for Habitat for Humanity.

About two months after he came up with the idea, he called up Greensboro Urban Ministry and laid out his plan.

Six years, $30,000 dollars and 5,300 pounds of food later, Rich and his wife, Mandy, have built the annual concert, Groove Jam, into a great grassroots festival that brings musicians and the local community together to raise food and funds to support men, women and families with kids facing crisis in our community.

It boasts “local bands for a local organization at a local address,” says Rich.

RichandMandy2

Rich Lerner and his wife, Mandy

The concert — which will be on September 16 this year — has been held from the beginning at Doodad Farm, which provides its space as an in-kind donation.

With two stages – one larger, main platform and a smaller one for acoustic performances – the music won’t stop from the time the first band begins at 2 p.m. to when the concert ends at 1 a.m.

Local bands The Mighty Fairlanes, Ladies Auxiliary and CC3 will play this year – as will Rich’s Band, Rich Lerner and the Groove — and food trucks and vendors will be on site. Alcohol is not served; coolers are permitted.

The concert’s proceeds have soared in the five years since it began, with $1,200 dollars in the first year giving way to $12,000 last year – and the first year’s 600 pounds of food more than doubling to 1,500 pounds this past year.

Rich and Mandy say the festival’s success can be attributed to hard work – and friendship.

Mandy is a great event organizer; Rich is the musician. Mandy took over the event aspect, and Rich took charge of the music element. Friends from each of their respective circles have helped them along the way.

Rich and Mandy, though, do need some extra help this year; they are wanting 10 or 12 more volunteers for clean-up the day after the concert – which can be a fairly daunting task for just the 15 or so people who usually volunteer.

But even with all of the work it takes to put on the festival, Rich and Mandy don’t see themselves stopping anytime soon.

They do it, Rich says, because of another saying: “To whom much is given, much is expected.”

Groove Jam will be Saturday, September 16, 2017. Doors open at 1 p.m. and the first concert begins at 2 in the afternoon. Please bring canned goods and be prepared to make a donation to Greensboro Urban Ministry before entering. 

If you’d like to volunteer for post-festival clean-up, contact Rich Lerner by calling 336-314-3336 or emailing richlerner@triad.rr.com.

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