From the Heart – July 2019

Jul 16, 2019 | Newsletters

From the Heart

July 2019


In 2011, OBR began as a group of individuals, just wanting to make a difference in a local community after a devastating tragedy hit.  We had no idea at the time how quickly we could go from a group of BBQ fanatics wanting to simply provide a few meals, to the incredibly fast-moving and evolving machine that we have become.  This is 100% due to YOU, our incredible volunteers, and unwavering support we have received over these last 8 years.  We also recognize that during this incredible period of growth, we have been successful at collectively coming up with ideas and strategies to address specific challenges, but less successful in follow-through and implementation of some.  That said, not all improvements or changes need to come from top down.

We want you to know that YOU, as an OBR Volunteer, are truly empowered to effect change.  Decisions are not made in a vacuum.  You are our eyes and ears in the field, and we need you to continue to provide feedback…bring your concerns forward and suggest solutions.

One way we’re facilitating this open dialogue, the leadership team will begin holding a WebEx meeting on the first Wednesday of every month where you can hear what’s going on as well as ask questions.  And just so you have a baseline, here are some things we’re working on currently:

  • Standard Operating Procedures
  • Training for deployment leadership team and volunteers
  • Food safety
  • Building out of our Logistics team
  • Deployment Operations improvements and structure enhancement
  • Continual Volunteer engagement to ensure we are ‘Keeping the heart’
  • Provide advance notice of future non-disaster events to engage more Volunteers

Collectively, we can connect, inspire, and serve, not only the communities that we serve, but each other!

As always, we thank you for your support!!

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

Always Serving Project

The Always Serving Project is proud to have completed the inaugural Breaking Bread Tour. Our team successfully ran and biked nearly 3,000 miles from Los Angeles to Tampa; connecting, inspiring, and serving more than 70,000 meals in communities along the way.

Where did we serve them?

  • Los Angeles, CA  – Skid Row homeless population
  • Phoenix, AZ – Local homeless population
  • El Paso, TX – military at Fort Bliss
  • San, Antonio, TX – wounded military at Brooke Army Medical Center
  • Houston, TX – first responders and local homeless population
  • Hammond, LA – first responders, local homeless population, and others in need
  • Panama City, FL – military at Tyndall Air Force Base and those recovering from Hurricane Michael
  • Tallahassee, FL. Homeless shelter and those still recovering from Hurricane Michael

We are now excited as we are about to launch our first BBQ Basic events in the upcoming weeks – teaching and serving communities. Jarrid ‘Jay’ Collins, OBR’s director of non-disaster programs says that we are blessed to have Brian Norfolk managing this program for OBR.

Together, this amazing OBR team is ensuring we leave this world better than we received it.


Volunteer Spotlight


The word unassuming means modest, lacking in arrogance, pleasant, or polite. You’ll find that some of the most unassuming people are actually the most interesting and powerful of all. They’re just decent enough not to display it all the time.  A hero is a real person or a main fictional character of a literary work who, in the face of danger, combats adversity through feats of ingenuity, courage, or strength; the original hero type of classical epics did such things for the sake of glory and honor.  When combined, these two words describe Roger Dietrich.

Roger was OBR’s first State Lead. He did it in his own way before there was a program or a playbook of Standard Operating Procedures. The need was there and Roger filled it. He assembled a supportive team in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and surrounding areas.  People followed and supported OBR because of Roger and his passion to help those who are in need. In the early days when there were not pamphlets or posters, he made them by hand. He set up shop at events and BBQ contests touting the hard work of OBR – often in his personal OBR trailer setup. In our early years, he was a significant part of a group of people who raised over $25,000 per year at a time when that money made the difference in the organization’s existence.

After many years as the original State Lead, Roger has stepped down from that role. But being who he is, he found and trained his replacements (yes, he ran two states) and is now an OBR Ambassador. This is our way to acknowledge and honor Roger for his dedication, and to continue to use his strengths to make a difference. Roger Dietrich is an Unassuming Hero. His feats of strength come in tenacity, grit, conviction, passion, and perseverance and we are so grateful that he shares those strengths with us..  #WeAreOBR

June 8-14, 2019
Deployed to Tulsa, Oklahoma

Tulsa, Oklahoma was hit hard by a tornado at the very end of May and OBR rolled into town on June 8th to help feed the victims, first responders and volunteers who helped during the clean up. We’ve always known that a hot meal goes a long way to help someone take those first steps towards recovery and we are blessed to be able to provide that meal to so many.

Thank you to everyone who volunteered!

#WeAreOBR #OBRcares #TheHealingPowerOfBBQ

OBR at the Racetrack!

OBR spent June 28-June 30th at the Chicagoland Speedway during the inaugural BBQ SmokeDown and the races.

Stan Hays, Co-Founder and CEO of Operation BBQ Relief, met with attendees and talked about OBR’s mission and the expansion of our non-disaster efforts, The Always Serving Project. He also sold and signed copies of our Operation BBQ cookbook while bringing some of the award-winning recipes to life on Pit Boss Grills.

Cookbook Update

The Operation BBQ cookbook climbed the “Amazon Best Sellers” rankings, peaking at #1 in the Barbecuing and Grilling genre in June!  Stan Hays has been making the rounds, selecting some mouthwatering recipes for grilling at special events and on TV shows like Fox and Friends.  Order your copy today from your favorite online retailer via our website –

Upcoming Events


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

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

OBR Cares

Operation BBQ Relief now has a Critical Incident Stress Management Program. As we carry out our mission, sometimes our volunteers are put in some very stressful situations, whether it be on a deployment or doing work behind the scenes during non-deployment times. The effects may not be felt at the moment but might be in a day or two, a week, months or can be triggered years later. We just want you to know OBR is here and willing to help.

We have three trained and certified personnel willing to help you. It is very easy to contact them. Just send an email to and your email will be answered ASAP. All cases are STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL.

We urge anyone who is dealing with any stress management issue that is affecting their personal life to please reach out and let our team help you!

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.