For most of us, being a Ravens fan is like being part of a club at school. To others, it’s a way of life. And still for others, it’s a gift that comes with great responsibility. Bob Salveron and Bill Cervenka, the founders of Ravens Nest No. 9 in the Chamber of Ravens Nests program, a series of Ravens fan clubs dedicated to football and philanthrophy, have fought past an abundance of obstacles over the years, including being located in the heart of Redskins territory. That’s right, these men are not native Baltimoreans, but they are as die-hard fans of the Ravens as anyone.
“What always amuses me about Redskins fans is that they’ll accept us just as long as their record is better than us,” Cervenka remarks. “Even if we’re doing horrible like 2-7, they’re not going to rub it in our faces, but God forbid our record is better, then they hate us.”
Salveron and Cervenka’s Ravens fan club embarks on many football-related pursuits, including tailgating parties, but the heart of this organization lies in the contributions they make to communities. Throughout its 10 years of existence, the club has sponsored a Bowie Boys and Girls Club football team, done volunteer work for the Ravens, helped out with in-house advertising, and even offered assistance with various functions on Draft Day, including crowd control.
It’s safe to say that these guys have gone the distance. Is the “Ravens Nest” theme really a front for what is essentially a philanthropist group? Not at all. Ravens Nest No. 9, as well as the other 34 similar organizations around the country, supports the Ravens, but not financially.
“None of our money actually goes to the Ravens, but a lot of people have this idea if they buy a ticket to a Ravens Nest function that they’re supporting the Ravens,” Cervenka explains. “It’s not that at all; they can come in their Redskins stuff, their New York Jets stuff, we don’t care, the bottom line with us is ‘buy a ticket,’ so we can continue to do our community stuff.”
For Salveron and Cervenka, one of the most memorable occurrences involving a charity was unquestionably their experiences with Operation Helping Hand (link). Ravens Nest 9 wanted to contribute $1,000 to the cause, but not before dealing with some US Military rules and regulations Servenka finds ridiculous.
“What's really frustrating about them is that if I make a commitment to them that I’m going to donate money, they can’t call us back to remind us to do that,” Salveron explains. “They’re not allowed by military law to solicit, even call us back, and that’s the thing about a lot of these military organizations other than the Red Cross.”
Bill Cervenka’s Baltimore fandom dates back as far as the forming of Colts Corral 31, which is essentially a precursor to Ravens Nest 9. To no one’s surprise, the most emotionally crippling time in a Baltimore Colts fan’s life undoubtedly came around one midnight in 1983.
“I was actually sleeping at the time, and my best friend wakes me up and says, ‘Bill, the Colts are gone,'” Cervenka recalls. “We drove over to where they used to practice, and there was nothing, nothing but a bunch of people standing around asking what the hell is going on. To me, it felt like one of my kids had just ran away and said, ‘To hell with you dad, I’m gone.”
Ravens Nest 9 may struggle to find fan support and make their voices heard without some form of proverbial red tape, but on Sunday afternoons at tailgating parties, nothing can spoil the fun, even after a Ravens loss. Just ask Salveron, who keeps the tailgating festivities going after the game.
“Win, lose or draw, we always come back out and finish what we started,” Salveron says.
“We always got cold cuts and subs and beer leftover from the tailgate party, so we go out and kill this stuff,” Cervenka explains. “We kind of have this after the game party because if you don’t, you’re just sitting in traffic waiting for the lot to empty.”
Ravens Nest 9 proudly supports charities and community activities, and that same degree of selflessness is present at the tailgating lots on Sunday, where Ravens Nest 9 offers leftover food to the homeless.
“One time, this past Sunday, we put all our leftover food in these trays and set them out on the ground and figured someone was going to take them after we came back from the game,” Cervenka says. “After we came out, we saw these four or five people, probably derelicts, and they had gone around collecting food from everyone and made their own party.”
“They hang around down there, and by game time, they know the food is going to be there,” Salveron adds. “We don’t have a problem with it at all, we gladly give them our leftovers if they ask. It’s just good man, it’s just good.”
Bill Cervenka and Bob Salveron set an example not only for Ravens fans, but football fans in general. They respect their fellow human beings and use their status as Ravens fans for a greater purpose in life: giving back.