Operation BBQ Relief: Serving from the Heart
Some time ago, I reached out to the good people over at Operation BBQ Relief asking if there was anything The BBQ Beat could do to help spread their message. The response I received from them came in the form of this post from CEO and co-founder Stan Hays. Please read it in full, and be sure to watch the accompanying video. It’ll do your heart good… and show you how your BBQ skills can be used to do good for others.
A Message from Stan Hays…
Operation BBQ Relief® is a grassroots, 501©3 non-profit founded by BBQ competitors and enthusiasts around the country who volunteer to serve hot meals to those in need after disaster strikes. In five years we have responded to 30 disasters in 18 different states and served over 703,000 meals.
As competitive barbecuers, we regularly set up in parking lots to compete with limited resources. In 2011, after a tornado struck in Joplin, MO, we applied this same mobile cooking model to help those in need. As we respond to new disasters, we continue to refine this blueprint and focus on serving those in need of hot meals.
Operation BBQ Relief: Caring for Those Who Care For Others
As a small non-profit, we are able to act quickly after disasters strike, often cooking within hours of the tragedy. We are a stop gap.
Once the churches, civic groups and large box non-profits get their feet under them to start feeding the communities, we are generally are ready to say goodbye. This means we may be in a community for 48 hours or 12 days, depending on the size of the disaster.
Those that volunteer with Operation BBQ Relief® have shown that they truly have a servant’s heart as they take time away from their families and jobs – putting their lives on hold to help others. Our volunteers have a passion for serving people in need. The self-gratitude we get from providing that hot meal to someone that needs it warms our heart and has changed many volunteer’s perspective on what is important in life!
Bryan McLarty, (above) a long time volunteer and North Texas State Lead was recently quoted in the media saying:
“We can’t change the situation, but we can change the day!”
My Operation BBQ Relief Story…
Every volunteer has their own OBR story. Mine is different than others. I did not know I wanted to be involved in running an organization like Operation BBQ Relief®, but after 48 hours of cooking and talking to people in Joplin, MO something happened!
I can’t explain it other than to say that what I had thought was important and what I thought were priorities weren’t. I left Joplin with a new perspective on what is important and memories of people that changed my life but I never got their names!
On May 21-22, we celebrated the five-year anniversary of serving hot meals to those in need by going back in Joplin, MO for a volunteer reunion. In addition to our own celebration, we also cooked 850 meals for the Joplin community for a memorial picnic called “Pride, Progress and Potato Salad.”
Many attendees told us how they remembered receiving our meals five years earlier and thanked us again for coming back for the memorial event. We hope that the community and families of Joplin continue to heal every day. We also remember and pray for the 29 other communities we have had the privilege to serve during our five years.
I sometimes feel overwhelmed as I talk to volunteers and hear their stories about how Operation BBQ Relief® has impacted their lives. I’m even more struck when I meet someone that remembers the hot meal they received from us during a deployment and the gratitude that they show us.
We have volunteers that are now paying it forward for what they received by volunteering to help in other communities affected! They truly have a servant’s heart.
Today I cannot imagine not being part of this organization and only hope to give what it has given me.
We need your help to continue to grow this great organization so we can respond when the need arises!
Here’s How You Can Help Operation BBQ Relief
● Become a volunteer: www.operationbbqrelief.org/register
● Make a monetary donation: www.operationbbqrelief.org/donate or
● Corporate Sponsorship/Donation – email me Stan Hays at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Connect with and Contribute to Operation BBQ Relief via These Channels
About the Author
This article was contributed to the BBQ Beat by Stan Hays, CEO and Co-Founder of Operation BBQ Relief. He wrote this post following OBR’s five-year anniversary in Joplin, MO. The story above are Stan’s reflections on how OBR has changed his life and the lessons he has learned since that first deployment in 2011.