Joleen Baldauf

May 21, 2024 | Volunteer Spotlights

Joleen Baldauf’s journey to become an Operation BBQ Relief volunteer began just a few short months after we provided our first meals in the aftermath of the Joplin, Mo. tornado in May 2011.

“In December 2011, I had stopped in Joplin, Mo. on my way to visit my stepdaughter in college, located only 50 miles away. While I was there, the locals were sharing their stories about the tornado that brought death and destruction to their community,” Joleen said. “The one positive out of all of their stories was about a group of people that rallied together to barbecue and provide them with meals in a time of need.”

In September 2022, Joleen was planning a 2-week vacation and trying to decide where she should go, when Hurricane Ian hit the Florida coast. Remembering the story she heard in Joplin, Joleen quickly pivoted her plans.

“I decided to search if I could find a barbecue organization that provided meals after natural disasters. That was when I came across Operation BBQ Relief. When I read that they had been in Joplin, Mo. I instantly knew where I needed to go: Port Charlotte, Fla.,” Joleen said.

As a first-time volunteer traveling across the country alone, Joleen didn’t know what to expect and was a little intimidated.

“All I knew was that I could help in some way,” Joleen said. “When I got there, I had no idea what I would be doing. So, I tried different stations until I found one that I was comfortable with. That is the great thing about OBR, different hats are worn by all.”

Since 2022, Joleen has become a pillar in our organization, volunteering hundreds of hours and now serving as the Area Coordinator for Washington State.

“New volunteers: don’t hesitate to register for an event! You’ll never meet a group of people with hearts this big. Everyone is amazing and works as a team,” Joleen said.

To join our volunteer family, download our “OBR Volunteers” smartphone app or visit


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.