From the Heart – September 2020

Sep 13, 2020 | Newsletters

From the Heart

September 2020 – Hurricane Laura Update

Message from CEO

In 15 days, Operation BBQ Relief has provided 293,231 hot meals with the support from over 200 volunteers from 32 states. While the number of meals served are extraordinarily high, the magnitude of gratitude is even higher. I had the chance to deliver meals into the community where homes are without roofs, water is barely trickling from faucets, and power may take many more weeks before it is restored. Families are still trying to survive as they have nowhere to go. The smiles, hugs, and tears were heartfelt signs of gratitude as we handed hot meals to our new friends. The meals provided much needed comfort, hope, and friendship as so many have felt forgotten.

I want to personally thank you, our staff, and volunteers who help us provide that one hot meal that matters. Our ability to deploy with our command center and thousands of pounds of food and equipment would not be possible without your support.

I invite you all to join us on this deployment or a future deployment as your life will change forever.
This week, Operation BBQ Relief was featured on Business Insider. Please take time to watch our team in action on this current deployment and hear from Greg Lovell from North Carolina. Greg received a meal from us as he was recovering from Hurricane Florence. He drove 16 hours to pay it forward and serve families affected by Hurricane Laura.

Greg’s story and the numerous other stories of gratitude provide the fuel that continues to push Operation BBQ Relief in our efforts to share the healing power of BBQ.

Business Insider Feature

Thank you,
Stan Hays

  1. Donate on Facebook
  2. Donate to the GoFundMe campaign
  3. Sign up to Volunteer. Please do not self deploy, download the Operation BBQ Relief app in the app store or visit our website to sign up –

Priorities in Leadership

Will Cleaver, Co-Founder and Chief People Officer

Since Operation BBQ Relief was started in 2011, I’ve worn many hats with the organization. One of my current roles is Chief People Officer.

As each one of wakes up we think about the things we need to get done. Each day, every day we make choices. We prioritize, we plan, we adjust. We take leadership in our daily lives making choices that we hope will have a positive impact on our daily world. Leadership is not something you are born with but rather you hone, you learn, you adjust based on feedback both positive and negative.

Are you the person you want to be? Are you doing the things that really matter to you? I was asked once about my priorities. The question was if I was standing next to you would I know by your actions what your priorities were. This really resonated with me. I stepped back and reviewed my efforts and honestly I don’t think this person would see what I was saying were my priorities. Do your actions support your priorities? If you priority is self care, do you take time each day working on this? If your priority is family, how do you handle interruptions from your children while you are working. Do you stop and focus on what they are needing? Do you try and help them with slight corrections and adjustments to make them better people or do you dismiss them?

Take each day, give yourself a 5-10 minute window to write down what you want to accomplish today. Review your priorities then focus your actions on the priorities you have set.

“Semper Gumbi” Or Always Flexible

Jarrid “Jay” Collins, Chief Programs Officer

I learned a term many years ago from what I’ll nicely call a well-seasoned Master Guns in the Marine Corps. “Semper Gumbi” Or Always Flexible. Always Have a PACE plan. (for those of you not well-versed in the militaries love of the acronym , it means Primary, Alternate, Contingency, Emergency). As a retired Green Beret, I can attest that in the military, we plan, we train tirelessly and we prepare to execute the mission flawlessly – yet – quite often our best developed plans rarely survive first contact. But, we’ve got to Stay in the fight – so don’t fall in love with your plan.

Being flexible has many benefits; we constantly meet psychological challenges. Some succumb, and feel hopeless, disempowered, give up. That’s not us; OBR rises up, meets the challenges, takes the punch and learns something from it. You see, being adaptable and flexible means not feeling hopeless and helpless in the face of change.

The well-known Greek philosopher Heraclitus has been quoted as saying “change is the only constant in life.” Today, this statement resonates in an entirely new way. 2020 has been a year unlike any other; our Nation and her people, in concert with the entire world are dealing with unprecedented dynamics. Operation BBQ Relief has done as we always do, we found a way to make a positive impact in communities; serving over 5 million meals.

I have had many people ask me if we are ever going back to our traditional disaster model – the simple answer is ABSOLUTELY. We are working tirelessly to ensure we can safely deploy equipment and work side by side with our amazing volunteers to serve “the one-hot-meal-that-matters” to those in need. I can also promise that OBR will always find a way to share what I call the “Spirit of BBQ”. You see BBQ isn’t about food, it’s about people and community. It’s about being there for our neighbors, friends, families, and complete strangers to offer a meal and hope. To be strong when others may want to break.

In the immortal words of the great 80-90’s philosopher – Rocky Balboa. “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a mean and nasty place – I don’t care how tough you are – it will beat you to your knees and keep you there if you let it. It ain’t about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That is how winning is done”.

“Boots on the Ground”
Operation BBQ Relief Lake Charles Deployment T-Shirt

The shirts are printed by a veteran-owned, family-operated company that proudly supports Operation BBQ Relief. Net proceeds of this t-shirt will support the efforts of Operation BBQ Relief in providing hot meals to communities affected by disasters. Available in Grey in sizes Small – 4XL. $30 includes shipping.

Click Here to Purchase

Operation BBQ Relief Face Masks

Purchase your Operation BBQ Relief face masks today! Face masks come in singles or packs of 4 and are available in adult and children’s sizes.

Purchase Face Masks

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.