From the Heart – August 2019

Aug 14, 2019 | Newsletters

From the Heart

August 2017

Meals served since 2011

Serving the One Hot Meal that Matters
Hope, Friendship, Compassion, Connect, Inspire + Serve


While the U.S. hurricane season generally runs June through November, we’ve historically seen our most busy hurricane-related deployments in the August through October timeframe.  Welcome to August!  So, let’s discuss “volunteer preparedness” as we get ready for our busiest time of the year.

While we’re busy getting our equipment, processes, and software tools ready for use on disaster-related deployments and at non-disaster events, we’re asking that you get yourself ready for upcoming events and deployments.  To that end, we have some things for you to be aware of:

  • Background Check – This is required of all volunteers and will help ensure safe deployments/events.  Watch for more information on how to get your background check done.
  • ServSafe certification – While not required, those of you having the Food Handler certification will have a leg up when we’re looking for volunteers.  A link to the on-line training (at a reduced rate) will soon be available through the OBR Volunteers mobile app.  Again, stay tuned for more information.
  • First Aid/CPR/AED certification – While not required, this is a very useful certification that will prepare you for basic emergencies, both on deployments and at home.  Check for training local to you, then send your certification to

Additionally, our Volunteer Management Team sent an email on August 1st to you all requesting you to complete the Operation BBQ Relief Volunteer Survey.  Whether you’re a brand-new volunteer, or a well-seasoned volunteer with many deployments/events under your belt, we ask that you take a few minutes to fill out this brief survey.  This way, we’ll have the latest and greatest information to best match your interests and skills to the needs of each deployment/event and the organization as a whole.

Remember, YOU are our most valuable asset!  We need to utilize every individual’s strengths to provide hope, friendship, and compassion in times of disaster, and to connect, inspire, and serve our communities.  Let’s face it, without you, the one hot meal that matters doesn’t make it into the hands of those who need it.

As always, we thank you for your support!!

Will Cleaver and Stan Hays
Co-Founders of Operation BBQ Relief

Always Serving Project

This weekend (Aug 17-18), OBR’s the Always Serving Project will launch the BBQ Basic Series at the U.S. Coast Guard’s largest operational field command on the East Coast – Sector New York. The participants will learn the tools, systems, and processes needed to make an impact in their communities with the Healing Power of BBQ over a two-day course working side by side with our pitmasters. On the first day we will introduce them to the craft of ‘que, teaching about the tools, equipment, and methods needed to make the one hot meal that matters. On the second day, participants will get hands on through a friendly competition. They will also get to see the healing power of BBQ in action as our volunteer team serves up hope, friendship and compassion through a mass feed that OBR is also doing at the same location.

For those interested in helping with the Series, follow the OBR volunteers app. Events will be added for those locations where volunteers are needed.

Dates and locations of 2019 BBQ Basic Series:

  • Aug 17-18 NYC Staten Island, Coast Guard Base
  • Sept 6-7 Tri-Cities 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb, Kingsport, TN
  • Sept 27-28 Travis Mills Foundation, ME
  • Oct 23-24: Ft Bragg, NC
  • Navy Date and location TBD
  • Dec 14: FINALE – Army Navy Game, Philadelphia, PA


Volunteer Spotlight

Scott and Jon (back left and center) pose with other OBR volunteers.

Volunteer Spotlight

“Double your pleasure, double your fun” is an old jingle that many of you may remember. In the case of the North Carolina State Leads the same can be said. Jon Hansel and Scott Jarrett are at the core of everything special that is centered within their great state. Leading up to Hurricane Florence, Scott took advantage of the opportunities that the disaster had thrown upon his state. He carefully watched, embraced, and developed local NC volunteers during our Hurricane Florence deployment. He never let go of them following our exit. As the sole State Lead, Scott took advantage of every opportunity he could to further OBR’s mission in his community.

Scott further deepened his volunteer base in numbers and skill sets. As he grew the base, he was happy to give players the ball who wanted and deserved to step up. He developed a strong rapport with Fort Bragg that eventually led to the on-boarding of Jarrid “Jay” Collins as our Director of Non-Disaster Programs.

Possibly amongst Scott’s most important actions was the realization that he could do so much more if he divided and conquered. This led to the development of Jon Hansel and the split in responsibilities. Jon became the Co-State Lead with Scott in early 2019.

Jon Hansel has been instrumental in the maturing of the NC Volunteer Program. Jon is process-driven, thus becoming the yin to Scott’s yang. Jon really took the bull by the horns in 2018 when he recognized that the volunteer food needs in several instances were not being appropriately met. Jon saw where we as an organization had holes and filled them. He did not wait to be asked and he did not complain about the void; he fixed it, put processes in place, and handed it over. The problems were solved and secured moving forward.

Individually, they have both been instrumental in the development of extremely important relationships. They have executed Lowe’s Thanksgiving, Fort Bragg events, Blue Rhino events, and most recently the Lowe’s Bucket Brigade BBQ. The two have been key players within the Breaking Bread Tour and have traveled all over the country in deployments. They bleed OBR and we could not be more proud or appreciative of what they do and what they give to the organization. Clearly Doublemint Gum had it right all those years ago as Scott and Jon do today.


Mid-July – Practice Deployment

We’re always ready…

When initial forecasts for Hurricane Barry included massive amounts of rainfall in Louisiana, we started our pre-deployment checklist. Once we make the decision to deploy, there are numerous moving parts that need to be in position quickly, so while we are still assessing the situation, some of those pieces get moving. Hurricane Barry turned into a great exercise for us.

Louisiana lucked out and while it was hit by a category 1 hurricane, the predicted rains never flooded like we feared. We worked with the local officials and agencies and determined that OBR wasn’t needed.

But in the preceding week, we started to notify potential volunteers and outline next steps. We created the deployment in our volunteer app and started collecting availabilities. We reminded everyone that it is extremely dangerous to self-deploy and to wait for official word from OBR. We reviewed our supplies, their locations, and the plan for moving all the equipment into the deployment area.

We also introduced a new concept – the virtual deployment. Some amount of work at every deployment is done over the phone and internet and can be done remotely, so we started to plan to sign up volunteers who could help us from their own homes, rather than travel to the deployment site.

All the pieces were in position and then Hurricane Barry passed by with manageable rain, no storm surge to speak of, and left communities in its wake more than able to care for themselves. We sent out the stand-down order and continued to monitor in case of late-breaking changes.

As we are entering into hurricane season, we are more ready than ever to serve that one meal that matters to any victims or first responders in need. Scaling up for a major deployment and then standing down gave us a chance to check on processes and communication and will make our next deployment that much smoother.

Any suggestions for topics for the newsletter?
Please email your suggestions to:

Upcoming Events


Aug 17th – 18th – BBQ Basics Coast Guard
New York City, NY


Sep 6th – 7th – BBQ Basics Tri-Cities 9/11 Memorial
Kingsport, TN

Click Here for other event info
Interested in volunteering for an event, please email for more information.

Ways to Help

Team OBR has accomplished a lot since our inception. In the last seven years, we have grown from a startup organization to being one of the largest providers of hot meals during disasters. Our BBQ background prepares us to be really great problem solvers and so much of disaster relief is solving big problems to help others. One problem that we are trying to solve is the peaks and valleys of funding between deployments as the ongoing expenses do not go away when we are not deployed. A few of these expenses are vehicle and trailer maintenance, warehouse space, storage, and insurance.

We are asking for your help in 2019 toward a monthly giving campaign. This campaign allows our supporters to budget their monthly contributions throughout the year and allows OBR to better manage our ongoing expenses. Our 2019 annual goal is to add 1,000 new monthly supporters during the year. Thank you for being part of Operation BBQ Relief and helping us help others. If you wish to sign up for a monthly giving program, go to or click below to enroll.

Other Ways To Help

Volunteer – We are always in need of volunteers. Let us know your skills and come join Team OBR.
Company matching contribution – Most large companies will match your contribution. Ask your HR Department and double up your donation.
In-kind Donation – If you have equipment or a product that we use your donation is always appreciated.

Email us at with any questions or suggestions.

Corporate Supporters



Join the #iamOBR movement with a tax deductible monthly contribution where you can select donation options to help support Operation BBQ Relief.


Operation BBQ Relief relies solely on volunteers like you. Whether you are a competition BBQ team, caterer, restaurateur or simply an individual or group wanting to help when disaster strikes, we want you to be a part of this rewarding experience in helping people.