Chetek, Wisconsin (Tornado) / 1,000 Meals Over 1 Day

On May 16, 2017, a single EF-3 tornado spent an hour and a half tearing through 83 miles of northwest Wisconsin from southeast Polk County to southwest Price County. Much of that part of the state is sparsley populated, but Chetek, a community of just over 2000 people in Barron County, was hit the hardest with damage.

The communities comprising the 4 impacted counties were largely able to take care of their own. But on May 21 st , our volunteers provided compassion, hope, and friendship, plus some pretty tasty hot BBQ meals, to folks spending the weekend trying to pick up the pieces.

Operation BBQ Relief was able to provide the one meal that mattered 1000 times to impacted residents, volunteers, and first responders!

Bryan Roppolo

I was asked about being a State Lead while at a SCA Steak cook off  In Kansas , after giving it some thought I decided to take the offer.   Then in March of 2016 is when I really got involved ,  That was the Floods of year ( at the time ) in the State of Louisiana,  It was in my home town of Shreveport.  I was asked to run the Deployments since I had contacts in my area.  That’s when I really seen How Giving the people of OBR are, How big there hearts are to drop what they are doing , Leave their jobs and there business, Family’s and kids  behind and go and help those in need.  We had OBR folks from all over the country show up to help ,  we ended up feeding 58k meals in 7 days   to say that this was a live changing experience would be a understatement.   I pressed on helping where I fit in with OBR , then the Floods of the century hit South Louisiana in August  and it was the same as before , People from all over came to help and we was able to feed 313k meals in 2 weeks. Since then I have been on many deployments and have seen this in all of them.  I choose to give back where I can because people came to help my State get back on there feet in the darkest times.  #obrcares  # iamobr

Bryan Roppolo

Will Cleaver

I went to school in southeast KS at Pitt State University in Pittsburg, KS (about 30 minutes from Joplin)  on the night of the tornado my wife and I were listening  to a police scanner hoping it wasn’t as bad as it sounded on the scanner.  We had a lot of memories and friends in and around Joplin.  When I woke up in the morning the news showed the devastation.   I went online and found Operation BBQ Relief for Joplin on FB.  I knew Stan and Jeff but only from competing against them.  I remember talking to my wife and her looking at me like “Why are you still standing here?”   I reached out to Stan and and was soon on my way.

Will Cleaver

Roger Dietrich

Tornadoes came thru Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio. This was in the infancy of OBR and at the time I was not part of it. I decided to set up in Moscow, Ohio which was pretty much destroyed by the Tornadoes. Not knowing what I was getting into I fell back on my knowledge of outdoor catering for 300-400 people and the benefits we do for the military. I put out a request for help and ended up turning people away.
A good friend of mine Matt Schneider of Velvet Smoke BBQ joined me and we set up our smokers and my food truck/kitchen in the parking lot of a small church to feed those displaced and the 1st Responders. After this I knew besides the benefits I do that this was what I wanted to do.

Good friends Kevin “Porkchop” Manring in Louisville, Ky. and Steve “Bubba ” Coddington in Michgan are the reason I joined OBR.
One of the first things I did for OBR was moving a Meadowcreeck Smoker across the U.S. Back to Meadowcreek in Pa. Then move a larger one from Meadowcreek in Pa. Back across the U.S. Being a member of BBQ-Brethren I was able to set this up in 1 1/2 days to leap-frog between drivers to get it moved.

I no longer Compete and this past year 2014 I have been setting up on my own at BBQ Competitions throughout Ohio and Indiana a booth for OBR to recruit volunteers and to collect donations. Boy what a year it was…. I learned a lot. When you say Hello and hold up a brochure it is amazing how fast people can run.

There’s so many people out there trying to rip others off. My best way to get them to listen to my speal was to say ” I am not selling Anything and if I am I will put $10.00 in the donation jar. If I am not you put $5.00 or as much as you wish in the jar. Just give me 2 minutes.” within 30 sec. They are hooked. Throughout the year with each competition I set up at I learned. With each Comp. I talked to the Promoter at least 2 months before competition asking for them to donate a site for me and to ask that it be by the teams but also in the foot path of the visitors. At the Cooks Meeting, Judges Meeting and at the Awards the promoters have given me the time to talk to all about OBR.

You would be surprised at how many BBQ’ers have not heard of OBR. During the year I have tried different things to get more people involved with OBR Booth. During one competition two teams were going to do their own side comp with Dino Bones and were wondering what to bet. I suggested that the loser makes a donation to OBR in the others name and turn in is at the OBR Booth where all the teams came to watch. We had table captains, judges the works and a lot of money was donated.

“The Dino Bone Throwdown” was born and this year we have 7 teams signed up for it. At another competition I had 3 very large baskets each worth $260.00 that I raffled off. Donations from the teams and BBQ suppliers made up the baskets. One team even donated a $150.00 wagyu brisket. So this year we are looking at larger things for the competitions.

“The Dino Bone Throwdown” is growing. I am in the process of trying to get some skids of Lump and Charcole so that I can raffle off 1 skid and sell the other skids by the bags at discounted prices. The one thing I wished I had done was to have note book at booth to get contact info for all I talked to so I could follow up. Another thing the week leading up to the comp contact the Newspaper and T.V. In the town. At Madison, Ind. I made frt page about OBR. Pic of me and booth and lg 2 page articule was written. I have contacted the promoters to ask for their contact list of teams so that I can reach out to them to join.

During this past year I was approached to be the Lead for The State of Ohio. I gladly accepted and since then also took Indiana. Now talk about being lost. I drew from my experience setting up at Moscow,Ohio and the benefits what I need to put in place before a disaster happens. I wanted to keep recruiting but at same time set up core groups in each part of both states to be able to tell me situation at time of disaster and also to setup up and start since being handicapped and having so much land to cover it may be a day to get there.

Also I am having the core groups send me info on Tent Rental Comp., Port-a-let, comp., Propane, Large Church or School to set up at, garbage disposal, trucking comp for storage on site and refrigeration, tool rental comp., and other comp. that I can contact to get different things donated at time of disaster. Also this past year I have joined the OhioVOAD and the IndianaVOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active at Disasters). It is made up of all groups going to disasters to be part of it to be more effective and to be connected to the goverment Groups. I have had several groups come up to me and state that at time of disaster they will donate food and money to help OBR at the deployment. One has asked if I would cook for them and they would donate catering costs to OBR. Over the course of the next couple mos. I will be taking courses given by FEMA for disaster teams.

Roger Dietrich

Rick Bunch

I saw a mass feeding demo by the southern baptist in the very early 80s. I remember vividly coming home knowing my life’s work. There is an inborn knawing in my heart to feed people. I know very few feel this. It’s been a struggle trying to understand why everyone doesn’t feel this until I realized if one man out of a hundred can feed a thousand, then for me to ask them to cook would rob 99 of their special gift.

I feed folks because doing so brings a joy that nothing else can. As a believer, I know I can show that gods love is more than suits and Sundays and padded pews. We can show the same love one hot meal at a time. I’ve been blessed with a wife who has the same heart so there is no controversy in our home come feeding time. Matter of fact, she often leaves before I can, going to serve .i have traveled the u.s. Feeding after disasters. Have been a part of millions of meals including one in Los Angels that feed 100,000 a day.  For weeks. Sandy and I talked recently about how much is enough.

My answer, we haven’t started.

Rick Bunch

Sandra Adcox Bunch

When I first heard about OBR on Facebook, my heart skipped a beat. This is what God had prepared me to do. Six years ago I volunteered to go to Tuscaloosa Alabama following a massive tornado. I cooked hamburgers and delivered them door to door, no actually more like rubble to rubble to desperate folks who were confused, afraid, and very hungry. I needed them to know that they were not forgotten about, that they were loved. Since that time, I have known that from the deepest part of my heart and soul, I was meant to feed desperate people who were in situations they did not create but were simply tossed in by circumstance. My heart was changed forever.

Last year, in June 2016, I was at a crossroad in my life. I had been laid off from my job as a Culinary Teacher. I was able to jump in with OBR in Nitro, West Virginia.  I felt purpose through humbly serving precious people.

In August 2016, I responded again to OBR in Hammond, Louisiana for 13 days. This was some of the hardest work and longest days of my life. Instead of being tired, I was energized by the adrenaline that comes from the knowledge of being able to serve rather than being served. What I mean by this is, how blessed I felt that I could be used to serve disaster victims and that I wasn’t the one being served, that I was so blessed to have not been flooded in my town.

Not only is it a blessing to serve, but I met my husband in Hammond, who I have served alongside since then.  In October 2016, my now husband proposed to me and the very next day, he put me on a plane to go with OBR to North Carolina to cook and serve the precious flooded communities there. I feel so committed to OBR and what they provide. The friends I’ve had the opportunity to work have become family.

In May of 2017, I drove to West Plains Missouri and stayed serving the flooded communities for 9 days. I can’t explain the desire in my heart to help people, but I can say that I am fulfilled beyond measure when I am called to a disaster area to love on folks. It is a mission that both breaks my heart and fills it to overflowing. I thank God for OBR, for having the honor of being a servant, for having a husband who served with me and for the opportunity to listen to people who just need someone to share their story with.

Sandra Adcox Bunch

Scott Guy

On April 27, 2011 a multiple vortex EF4 tornado swept across the state of Alabama, and wiped out a large portion of Tuscaloosa, AL, where I grew up. I spent several weeks helping my family and friends repair property damage. During that time we were blessed by various people and organizations that helped us in our time of need.

In May 2013 my friend, John Wheeler, invited me to join him in Moore, OK to help an organization I’d not heard of at the time feed victims of the tornado that had recently hit the town. This was my introduction to Operation BBQ Relief. Over the course of a week we fed victims and first responders and met many people that had been through what my family had been through—and I knew this was something I wanted to be a part of.

Working with OBR is my way of giving back for the kindness we received in our time of need. I never thought I would have to depend on the kindness of strangers, but I’m thankful that it led me to OBR in its roundabout way.  It’s a truly humbling experience to know that we are able to comfort others with a hot meal and a word of encouragement and I’m grateful for the opportunity to repay my debt of gratitude.

Scott Guy

Dewayne Daniel

I was raised the right way by my parents, ​and I found out in the later years of my dad’s life what it was to be a giving person. I had been searching for a organization or cause to get involved with and be more like my dad and give something back. 

I was an avid BBQ cook and I had heard of OBR and what they were trying to do and wanted to give them a look and see if they were legit at what was being said about the organization.

I registered as a volunteer about 3 months before I had a chance to go on my first deployment. I will be honest, I really thought I would just go and do something that I enjoyed doing, which was cooking BBQ and never really gave it very much thought about the people I would be helping. As I went through the first couple of days of the deployment it was just as I had thought it would be. Then one day I was asked if I would mind taking some meals out in the field. Boy did that afternoon change my life almost in an instant. I was bit by the “OBR BUG”.

As I was delivering meals I made my way to a house that had been completely destroyed. As I approached I had a conversation with a  man that just had his family’s life turned upside down by something that was completely beyond his control. As I asked this man if he could use a meal, his response was, “No the Hot Dog man had just came by and to be honest he didn’t want another Hot Dog.” I then asked if he would like some fresh BBQ. His eyes kind of lit up but still said he and his family were ok. I really insisted that he at least take some meals for later. After I retrieved the meals for him and his family, he opened it up and he and his family began eating  immediately. As I was talking to his young daughters, I turned back to him and he was crying. I asked if I had said or done something to upset him. His response was what got me. And I quote ” I didn’t realize there was anyone left on Earth that cared enough to help take care of my family At that point I realized my life was going to change and it was completely beyond my control. I made the decision to make this organization my “cause” going forward.

The things I do now for OBR is strictly out of passion for helping others. Anytime I deploy or do an event promoting OBR and get tired I just  remember two things. That my Dad was a very giving person and the family that we helped, and how they changed my life forever.

Dewayne Daniel

Lynn Entrekin

Disaster Relief?
Many times I have wondered that myself…. how did I get involved with disaster relief and why? Then I was straight up ask that question and it really made me take a look back, waaay back.

Without going into great detail I’ll share with you my disaster relief beginning. The morning of Aug. 24, 1992, a storm tide of 4 to 6 feet was measured in Biscayne Bay. Heights as high as nearly 17 feet were measured at the waterfront Burger King International HURRICANE ANDREW had blown ashore…I sat on my sofa watching in disbelief at the devastation. We had just moved from that area a few months before so I had many friends there that I could not reach.

  • Mobile homes had almost no chance against Hurricane Andrew: 90 percent of mobile homes in the southern part of the county were destroyed. In Homestead, this number was at almost 100 percent with only nine of 1,176 mobile homes spared.
  • 160,000 of Dade County residents became temporarily homeless.
  • 1.4 million lost electricity and 150,000 lost telephone service
  • The hurricane damaged or destroyed 9,500 traffic signs and signals, 3,300 miles of power lines, 3,000 water mains, 59 health facilities, 31 public schools, 32,900 acres offarmland and 82,000 businesses.
  • The nationwide total death toll from Hurricane Andrew was 26, with another 40 people dying as an indirect result of the storm. In Florida, 15 died directly from the hurricane and another 29 died indirectly.

I had never seen anything like that in my life! I sat for days watching tent cities go up, listening for hours to reports about people that had lost everything. Babies with no diapers or formula, elderly with no food and no way to communicate torelief workers, supply trailers being held up by gunmen  and looting was rampant. It was horrible, like something you see on tv in other countries. My heart was broken.

I couldn’t stand to listen anymore and just sit there…. Long story short…. within 2 weeks Robert and I had organized 2 tractor trailer loads of supplies and I was southbound with them headed to Miami.  What I discovered when we rolled in was nothing like I had seen on tv. It was much much worse. The disarray, the suffering and the magnitude of it was mind blowing, life changing. Life changing needs to be repeated….. That was the first experience I had where I felt like I made a difference in someone’s life. A big difference!

Fast forward to New Orleans August 2005, Katrina devastates the region. By November we felt the need to help with the clean up. While there we observed the Southern Baptist feeding over 2000 meals a day, most of which were workers (including us). We knew with the background we had in BBQ and catering, disaster feeding was what we were destined to

In the following years we attended the SB training for disaster feeding and also the Red Cross Disaster Kitchen training. In April 2010 an F2 hit my home town of Albertville and we felt the despair of being a disaster victim ourselves. Then on April 2011 28 tornados hit North Alabama killing many and knocking out the TVA power grid. It was like being in a movie. Gas lines, no one had power and hot meals were in high demand. Our team was ready, we deployed  along with many volunteers and went into action feeding over 30,000 in our community alone.
In early 2012 I had heard of a group of BBQ teams that had done the same thing that we were doing, cooking for victims that were devastated by natural disaster. OBR had formed a Non-Profit and wanted BBQ teams to join them. I had been following them on Facebook and praying for the teams that were giving so freely of their time and resources. Then when the Tornado hit Clay Alabama I made the call to see if I could help. That’s when our team had the opportunity to join forces with OBR. It was a coming together of some great people. We set up with 2 other teams in Clay and with the support of OBR it all worked and we were blessing people that had lost everything. Since then we have deployed with OBR to disasters all across the country. I have worked on the front lines and behind the scenes and it’s always rewarding to know I am helping as a team to get the job done.  The relationship between OBR and the teams that volunteer are developing,
growing and doing wonderful things for people that are hurting. What I discovered during all this, people just need a little hope. If that comes from a hot plate of pulled pork and a hug then I’m proud and blessed to be a small part of that.

OBR is the vehicle and engine that clears the track for all of us BBQ teams to do what we do best, COOK GOOD FOOD, GIVE LOVE, SHARE HOPE.
God Bless You All

Lynn Entrekin

West Plains, Missouri (Flood) / 13,300 Meals over 10 Days

When over 10” of rain falls within 48 hours, you’re going to have some flooding. Such was the case in 2017 when historic April 28 th -30 th rainfall caused extensive flooding in West Plains, Missouri, and the surrounding areas.

Our volunteers arrived in West Plains on April 30 to set up our cook site. Bootleggers BBQ restaurant closed to allow employees to tend to their families and homes, so the restaurant gladly allowed us to utilize their kitchen. Meals were then taken to the local fire station for serving and distribution. The flooding spread in the surrounding counties, meaning more people being impacted and a continued need. In fact, we provided hot BBQ meals for 10 days, from May 1st through 10th.