From the Heart – November 2020

Human Resources and Accounting Administrative Specialist

We are pleased to announce Carrie Cramer as the Human Resources and Accounting Administrative Specialist at Operation BBQ Relief. With her extensive office management and accounting experience as well as ability to wear multiple hats, Carrie will be a valuable addition to Operation BBQ Relief. She is excited for this opportunity to be a part of Operation BBQ Relief as we continue to provide the healing power of BBQ to the community. Her most recent position as Church Administrator for Rainbow Mennonite Church, as well as the years spent with Process Resource Group, Inc. provided her valuable, relevant experience when it comes to office administration.  She is well versed in maintaining accounting records for several business and processing payroll and timely tax filings. Carrie’s experiences have taught her the importance of staying flexible with plans and to adapt to any situations that may arise at Operation BBQ Relief.

New Leadership at Operation BBQ Relief

New Head of Volunteer Services

Operation BBQ Relief is pleased to announce Brian Polak as the new Head of Volunteer Services, effective February 22, 2020.  Brian’s responsibilities include developing and managing all aspects of volunteer engagement and coordination, including strategies to encourage new or increased volunteerism, standard operating procedures for volunteer management tasks, and more.  As a certified Project Management Professional (PMP)®, Brian brings over 20 years of project management experience to OBR.

Brian Polak has supported Operation BBQ Relief in one way or another since its inception in 2011.  After his first deployment to Washington, Illinois, following a 2013 tornado, Brian was determined to do more for the organization.  Brian always wears his OBR gear with pride and eagerly launches into his elevator pitch at the first inquiry of “What’s Operation BBQ Relief?”  As a KCBS Master Judge and competition Pitmaster for Designated Smokin’ Area, Brian always takes advantage of having captive audiences at BBQ competitions to be the quintessential OBR Ambassador.

Brian has served as the Illinois State Lead and later Territory 3 Director, where he worked to develop OBR fundraising opportunities at local BBQ competitions and retail events and served as Site Lead for the 2015 Kirkland/Fairdale deployment in Illinois. He then moved on to become the Director of Volunteer Management in 2017.  In that role he honed the process and tools for getting volunteers registered with Operation BBQ Relief and signed up for events.

Brian is a Sr. Program Manager at AT&T.  He is also a United States Army Veteran, where he worked military intelligence in Germany.  Brian and his wife of 21 years, Laurie, live in Carol Stream, IL, with their two Beagles.  They have two sons, Sean Dwyer (26) and Eric Dwyer (25), who also live in the area.

Join us in congratulating Brian on his new position!

OBR Organizational Changes

Florida Governor’s Hurricane Conference

Volunteer Awards

Thank you to all of our volunteers who attended the first annual volunteer banquet.  We truly hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!  And a huge thank you to all of you who worked behind the scenes to make everything happen.  It was a weekend to remember!  A huge congratulations goes to the following volunteers who were this year’s recipients.

The Rod Cramer Volunteer of the Year Award – Laurie Polak
The Leadership Award – Joey Rusek
The Heart Award – David Keith
The Que’ Comer Award – Cheryl McDonald
The Road Warrior Award – Michael Moore
The Innovation Award – Paul Carnell
The Motivation Award – Leigh Carnell

OBR on 60 Second Docs

Watch the full video on 60 Second Docs.

Signal Hill with Stan Hays Interview

Stan Hays is the Co-Founder of Operation BBQ Relief. Named one of CNN’s Top 10 Heroes of 2017, he and his team of volunteers have served more than one million meals for victims and first responders of natural disasters such as the 2011 tornado in Joplin, Missouri; Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas and most recently, the California wildfires. Nick Vasos chats with Stan about what inspired him to start the nonprofit, how he is able to serve to the masses and his BBQ influences including a unique flavor… Alabama white sauce.

Listen to the interview here.