From the Heart – September 2019

Sep 13, 2019 | Newsletters

From the Heart

September 2019

Meals served since 2011

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


Many of you have seen social media posts regarding the OBR Volunteers app, Tier 1 and Tier 2 volunteer statuses, and the requirement for Level 1 or Level 2 background checks. This has caused confusion for some. So, we’re attempting to further simplify and clarify our processes.

First, one of our primary methods of communicating event/deployment information with our volunteer base is through the OBR Volunteers app. Even if you’re already a registered volunteer, if you don’t have the app on your smart device, then you’re missing out on real-time notifications. So please ensure that you have downloaded the app to your smart device and enabled notifications. Click here to access the app’s download link for iOS or Android devices. If you don’t use a smart device or don’t use an iOS or Android device, then please monitor our Facebook page and your email for event information.

Second, we’re replacing the Tier 1/Tier 2 terminology (which will be rolled out separately), but we need to reiterate that the background check requirement applies to all volunteers and it is not going away. As a member of the National VOAD, it was strongly recommended that we institute the background check policy. Aside from that, it’s in the best interests and safety of our organization, our volunteers, our employees, and the communities we serve.

That said, we are now requiring that all volunteers initiate only a Level 2 background check. The Level 2 check will allow you to not only work on-site, but also deliver meals out into the field, and stay on-site overnight (if accommodations are available or if you are approved to bring your own camper). When you initiate the Level 2 background check, you may choose whether to pay the $20 fee in full yourself, split the cost with OBR, or defer the fee to OBR. Be aware that the Level 2 background check may take several days to return results, which means you cannot stay on-site overnight until OBR receives a “passed” result. So please initiate your Level 2 background check now. Click here to initiate your Level 2 background check via Sterling Volunteers.

As always, we appreciate your feedback and your patience as we institute new policies and procedures.

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

Hurricane Dorian

We all watched Hurricane Dorian slowly make its way across the Atlantic and anticipated a major deployment. While the U.S. got very lucky with the drastic change in its track, the Bahamas was devastated.

The OBR leadership and volunteers come together to serve that one meal that matters and if we have to find an airplane to deliver it to a ravaged island nation, then that is what we will do.

We are very relieved that we can help the victims of the Dorian with our first ever international deployment. OBR leadership has spent the week making the arrangements, which included finding an airplane – a first for this team. Our supplies were already staged near Atlanta, the product lined up, the volunteers eagerly waiting to hear.

This unique deployment is underway. We’ve set up in Ft. Lauderdale and will cook all the food there and then fly it in bulk to the Bahamas. We are beginning to reach out to the volunteers and are starting to get the work underway. This will be a 30 day deployment. We will serve thousands of meals. And we’ve entered a new international phase for OBR with this deployment!

This deployment will also cost a great deal of time, money, and resources. We are grateful for the number of companies and individuals who are doing fundraisers in support. In order to continue our work, we do need more resources. Please consider a cash donation if you are able.

Some reminders:

  • Do not self-deploy! This is for everyone’s safety. We will contact you if you have been selected for this deployment with all the details.
  • You must complete the background check in order to be considered. Check out Stan and Will’s Founders message for the reasoning and links to get it done.
  • Download the volunteer app and fill in your availability for this deployment if you are interested. Since this is a 30 day deployment, we will need lots of volunteers.
  • If you do deploy, you will notice some new procedures in place to make your experience smoother, we hope. All feedback is appreciated!

We owe a debt of gratitude for our eager and tireless volunteers. We would not be anywhere close to where we are today without all of your help.

OBR Media Coverage

KMBC – Operation BBQ RElief to provide meals for those affected by Hurricane Dorian

KCTV – Operation BBQ Relief ready to help Hurricane Dorian victims

KAIT – Mid-South groups providing relief after Hurricane Dorian

And don’t forget to tune in…

OBR welcomed a film crew to our Wilmington, NC deployment for Hurricane Florence last year to film an episode of Making Good. We are thrilled to announce that it will be airing on Wednesday, September 18 at 8PM ET on BYUTV. Don’t get this channel? It will also be streamed on their website and you can watch it there.

BBQ Basics Series

Operation BBQ Relief kicked off its BBQ Basic Series on August 17 in Staten Island, NY. Nine teams from the United States Coast Guard and the Englewood Fire Department spent the first day learning about the tools, equipment, and methods needed to make the one hot meal that matters. On the second day they applied what they learned from our pitmasters to a fun-filled competition. The participants also saw the healing power of BBQ in action at a mass feed where OBR volunteers served up hope, friendship, and compassion.

For the second stop in the BBQ Basics series, the OBRteam was in Kingsport, TN at the Tri-Cities 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb. The annual climb honors the 343 firefighters who perished at the World Trade Center on 9/11/01. The participants were made up of local first responders.

The BBQ Basics momentum keeps rolling on September 27 to a stop at the Travis Mills Foundation in Maine.

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 Guy is one of the “Memphis Crew” for OBR. For those who do not know, Scott is a Master Airplane Mechanic for a large shipping company out of Memphis. It is our opinion that Scott is an airplane mechanic because pilots need heroes too! While Scott is highly visible on deployments, it is truly only the tip of the iceberg. The bulk of Scott’s time is spent when no one is looking. He uses his mechanical talents to keep our fleet in tip-top shape and ensures the safety of our volunteers. Scott is always looking for great deals to add equipment to our fleet and arsenal. If you don’t know how food and or equipment arrived at a deployment, it was probably him. Scott often looks at himself as a “Blue Collar Guy”, and we all think he is as smart as they come, no matter the topic. In addition to being a mechanical genius, Scott is also an accomplished pitmaster – and is a part of the Houston Rodeo OBR Grand Champion Team that will be going to the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational Barbecue contest in October.

We are very lucky to have Scott in the fold.


OBR at the 2019 National Mass Care Exercise

OBR was invited to participate in this year’s National Mass Care Exercise (IL NMCE 2019), hosted by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) on August 26-29. The four-day functional exercise examined “mass care”-related recovery issues following a mock significant earthquake in the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ). The exercise focused on sheltering, feeding, and reunification of Illinois residents in the initial 90 days post-earthquake.

OBR was warmly welcomed and in good company collaborating on the Feeding & Hydration Task Force. We participated alongside other organizations such as World Central Kitchen and Illinois Baptist Relief, The Salvation Army, American Red Cross, Illinois National Guard, and FEMA.

The earthquake scenario posed daunting challenges to basic communication and transportation, as well as sheltering, feeding, and providing health care to those impacted. The exercise helped validate the state’s mass care support plan and validate participating agencies’ ability to work together, come up with solutions to impromptu problems, and communicate situational awareness in a timely manner.

All in all, it was an excellent networking and learning opportunity.

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

Upcoming Events


Sep 21st – Lutheran Diaster Response Oktoberfest, Glenside, PA
Sep 27th – Atlanta Cultural Center OBR Cookbook Event, Atlanta, GA
Sep 27-28 – BBQ Basics Travis Mills Foundation, Maine

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.