From the Heart – May 2019

May 14, 2019 | Newsletters

From the Heart

May 2019

Welcome to FROM THE HEART, the newsletter from Operation BBQ Relief. We hope you enjoy what you find inside and learn more about how OBR helps others after disasters and stay up to date with special events and the special people we meet along the way. Let us know how you like it and share it with a friend.


OBR has been growing by leaps and bounds over the last two years. During 2018 alone, we served 1,166,053 million meals over 75 deployment days (46 of which were back-to-back deployments).  That kind of extended effort put a strain on our Core Team of volunteers.

To address that strain going forward, we recently held our first “Advance Deployment” leadership workshop to bring additional volunteers up to “Core Team” speed. While many of these participants had a good working knowledge of one or two particular aspects as a deployment, the two-day workshop was designed to give them a greater understanding of all aspects of a “deployment” from beginning to end. Having these trained volunteers will allow OBR to rotate people in and out of key roles during extended deployments, hopefully mitigating fatigue and burnout.

The underlying theme for the weekend was good communication being the cornerstone of good relationships, be it amongst the volunteer base or between volunteers and OBR’s partners, clients, etc. Open dialogue and team-building exercises encouraged collaboration and strengthened relationships, reinforcing the idea that you can’t build good relationships and come to mutual undertanding without having good, clear communication.

We look forward to watching our volunteers grow and take on more leadership responsibilities. We also are looking to grow our volunteer base! Regardless of your background, if you’re an individual or group wanting to help when disaster strikes, we want you to be a part of this rewarding experience in helping people by registering at:

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

Breaking Bread Tour/Always Serving Project

Are you following along as Jarrid Collins runs, cycles and handcycles from Los Angeles to Tampa this month? He started the trip on April 28th and the goal is 8 cities in 50 days, targeting 60 miles a day. This tour is raising awareness of the newly-launched Always Serving Project, OBR’s effort to bring awareness to hunger in our communities. At each stop on this tour, we will provide hot BBQ meals to 10,000 people. We hope to connect and inspire the people in these communities.

We had great visits to Los Angeles and Phoenix and today are serving El Paso.

Make sure you are following our activities on social through @BreakingBreadTour. You never know who will pop up at an event or on our feed, supporting this great effort.


The Breaking Bread Tour Needs Your Help

If you want to be involved in The Breaking Bread Tour, please let us know.  We need volunteers to help make this event amazing.  There are many opportunities.  We are looking for people to:

  • Run
  • Cook
  • Serve
  • Join in along the route

If you can help, please email us at

OBR in the News

Bullsheet, the monthly newsletter published by the Kansas City Barbecue Society, published a great two page write-up about OBR and what we do. Read about it here.

Message from a Volunteer

OBR races into many communities to serve that one hot meal that matters. We can’t do that without our volunteers, especially those local residents who see the suffering in their own communities. We are so grateful for that help. Recently we heard from Gracyn Dwyer, one of our Wilmington, NC volunteers, who wrote about her experience in her application for the Robert P. Sheppard Leadership Award.

Volunteering and community outreach is of most importance to me, as well as to my family. Beginning at a young age, I was introduced to an array of service efforts alongside my parents. These experiences kindled a deep sense of compassion within my heart. Entering high school has certainly done the utmost in fueling my desire to help others. Witnessing real world troubles and itching to understand them has drastically boosted my societal involvement.

Amid what was then 2018, and is now my sophomore year of high school, the Carolina region was struck by Hurricane Florence. The devastation and frenzy behind people’s eyes is something I will never forget. From this catastrophe, an organization of hope emerged within the city of Wilmington-Operation BBQ Relief. They provide meals to displaced residents and emergency personnel that are affected by U.S. disasters. By participating in this relief endeavor, I had the chance to support and assist the town that I call home. I got to speak with families that lost everything except the comfort of one another. I dispersed food to people who otherwise would go without it. I observed the humility and gratitude that results from affliction. Most importantly, I experienced the impact of unity on both the helpers and the helped. I was made aware of Operation BBQ when my mom drove by the parking lot they were occupying. When she arrived home, we talked about what she had seen and how remarkable it would be to participate. Instead of volunteering unaccompanied, I decided to collaborate with my cross country team. With the assistance of my family and coach, a group of teammates, including myself, was assembled and prepared to help.

Each second of the next three days was spent smiling from ear to ear. Volunteering consisted of distributing water and nonperishable items, directing drive up vehicles, and the most significant of all-tenderizing and seasoning pork. As a team, preparing the barbeque was our most frequent task. Once the pork was cooked, it was dispersed onto plates or stored in lifoam coolers. Emergency crews, affected community members, or anyone in need could pick up these plates and bring them home. During a time of such anguish, observing the delight that spread across individuals faces was quite moving. I realized that an act of kindness can go much farther than words can describe. To people that lost everything during Florence’s wrath, a simple meal was another step towards recovery. To those who provided it, a life has been touched.

While many would say that a natural disaster is weakening, I believe it is empowering. It united the city of Wilmington and encouraged the community to support one another. Having a role within Operation BBQ was an incredible experience that I will reflect on for the rest of my life. It informed me about the ability and influence that stems from a helping hand. Piece by piece our town was rebuilt, all because the helpers and the helped became one.

Cookbook Update – Order Yours Today!

Operation BBQ Relief’s Cookbook, Operation BBQ, hit the shelf April 9th. There are 200 recipes from Grand Champion Pitmasters. You can order your cookbook now and know that OBR’s portion of the proceeds go towards serving the One Hot BBQ Meal That Matters. Help us help others with this tasty investment in your collection. Order your Cookbook today anywhere books are sold, including through the OBR store on the website.

Father’s Day – Memorial Day – National Barbecue Month – International Chicken Wing Day – Your next door neighbor’s birthday – There are no shortage of gift-giving opportunities if you get creative, so spread the love of great BBQ with this perfect present for your friends and family.

SApril 13-15, 2019
Deployed to Franklin, Texas

On April 13, 2019, OBR started cooking and serving The One Hot Meal That Matters just a few short hours after a tornado hit the towns of Franklin and Alto, Texas. Disasters can strike close to home and this tornado did just that when it hit the hometown of our own Chris Huggins, longtime head of logistics for OBR.

We received the call from Franklin’s emergency manager and he told us that his town needed our help. Our volunteers rushed to the scene and got down to work. Chris’s firsthand knowledge of Franklin helped OBR find the best place to set up and serve as many people as needed.

Our volunteers not only loaded hot BBQ meals onto Salvation Army canteen trucks for distribution, but they also took meals out into the community themselves, searching for those without means to get to the canteens.

When all was said and done, we provided that one meal that mattered a total of 1960 times over two and a half days. Thank you to everyone who volunteered!

#WeAreOBR #OBRcares #TheHealingPowerOfBBQ

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



May 15th-18th – Memphis in May, Memphis, TN

May 18th-19th – Breaking Bread Tour Stop, San Antonio

May 25th-26th – Breaking Bread Tour Stop, Houston


June 1st-2nd – Breaking Bread Tour Stop, Hammond, LA

June 6th-8th – Smoke Out Hunger, Waynadotte. KS

Click Here for other event info

Interested in volunteering for an event? Please email

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 Operation BBQ Relief

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


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.