Some Operation BBQ Relief volunteers have been involved with the organization for years. Some, like Jamie Gottlieb, we just met. However, she has already become a part of the family. Jamie lives in Kihei, Hawaii on Maui, just 20 miles south of Lahaina where wildfires destroyed much of the community earlier this month. She was looking for ways to help the recovery process when she learned Operation BBQ Relief was set-up at The Sugar Beach Events Center and needed volunteers.
“Right when I walked in, I felt comfortable and at home. The loving, giving, kind people there were so inspiring. I wanted to be part of it. Operation BBQ Relief makes it easy and fun. I look forward to being there, and I go whenever I can,” Jamie said.
Jamie, like many Maui residents, has been personally impacted by the wildfires.
“It took me a couple days to figure out some of my feelings. I realized that I feel similar to how I felt when 9/11 happened. It’s shocking and surreal. I lived in Southern California at that time. This time, it’s right in my own backyard,” Jamie said. “I’m still processing everything. The death and losses are unthinkable. Every time I hear sirens, I think it’s another fire.”
Volunteering has brought comfort to Jamie during this difficult time.
“The feeling of working with other loving people to help the fire victims has been truly incredible. It’s made me feel better and more able to handle all of the tragedy. Operation BBQ Relief is the organization I have been working with the most. I’ve been helping prep food and make nourishing meals for people directly impacted by the fire,” Jamie said. “Everyone at Operation BBQ Relief is loving and kind. There’s a huge feeling of family and love. They really care. Also, being with other volunteers has been comforting. We all talk with each other, hug each other, share our feelings. It feels so good to be useful and to contribute, to know I’m making a difference.”
To date, Operation BBQ Relief has provided 28,560 meals to residents, relief workers, and first responders impacted by the wildfires on Maui. To support our continued efforts, click the donate button!