Coal City, Illinois (Tornado) / 5510 Meals over 4 Days

On June 22, 2015, a powerful summer storm that included at least nine tornadoes tore through north-central Illinois. Coal City, IL, a community of about 5000, was hit by an EF-3 twister hitting 160 mph.

Widespread damage impacted at least a quarter of the residents, with 55 homes destroyed, 120 more with major damage, and 200 more with minor damage.  With no electricity for several days, and homes not livable, we sent our volunteers to feed.  From June 25th to 28th, our volunteers, led by Rich Jones and Colin Monk, were set up at a local church.

Volunteer of the Year 2014 – John Wheeler

John Wheeler, Operation BBQ Relief’s 2014 Rod Cramer Volunteer of the Year

“It’s an honor to even be considered for volunteer of the year. It wouldn’t have been possible without the help of my family, friends and team members. Thanks to OBR for letting us be a part of your team.”

People volunteer for a wide variety of reasons, especially wanting to help others. But it’s also OK to want some benefits for yourself from volunteering. Some people are uncomfortable with the notion that a volunteer “benefits” from doing volunteer work. There is a long tradition of seeing volunteering as a form of charity, based on altruism and selflessness. The best volunteering does involve the desire to serve others, but this does not exclude other motivations, as well. Instead of considering volunteering as something you do for people who are not as fortunate as yourself, begin to think of it as an exchange. Consider that most people find themselves in need at some point in their lives. So today you may be the person with the ability to help, but tomorrow you may be the recipient of someone else’s volunteer effort. Even now you might be on both sides of the service cycle: maybe you are a tutor for someone who can’t read, while last month the volunteer ambulance corps rushed you to the emergency room. Volunteering also includes “self-help.” So if you are active in your neighborhood crime watch, your home is protected while you protect your neighbors’ homes, too. Adding your effort to the work of others makes everyone’s lives better.