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On Holiday: Impossible, Robert Irvine shifted his focus away from restaurants and onto a deserving organization just in time for the holiday season. He traveled to Joplin, Mo., to transform a local Boys & Girls Club that has given so much to its storm-ravaged community after a deadly tornado struck the region in 2011. Unlike any renovation he’d done before, this was Robert’s largest and most difficult mission to date. Robert’s challenge in Joplin was twofold: give a second life to the expansive, multi-purpose space at the Boys & Girls Club facility and cater a special holiday party for a whopping 1,000 people.
In celebration of the season, Robert completed the mission with a bit of holiday cheer, thanks in large part to the generosity of his Restaurant: Impossible team, fellow chef friends and the Lexus Culinary Masters, who increased his time and spending limits from the usual two days and $10,000 to three days and $30,000. After just 72 hours, the Boys & Girls Club in Joplin reopened with secure entrance, bright, colorful walls, a fully equipped kitchen, increased storage and other functional elements that will help the club carry out their kids-first mission.
A few months after the renovation, Rhonda Gorham, the Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club of Southwest Missouri, told us that the children and staff of the club have been overjoyed with the new space and the changes that Robert and his team made. Rhonda added that parents, too, have been wowed with the overhaul. “They have always known we were a positive, safe place to be, but now [the facility] is all shiny and new.”
The organized cubbies and clean, stocked kitchen that Cheryl and Tom worked on have been among the most helpful elements of the new design. Candace continues to cook at the club, and Rhonda tells us that “she is getting to know her kitchen and is starting to experiment a bit,” especially with healthful meals.
“We would love to add on to our building and be able to serve more children,” Rhonda said, looking ahead. “I am always thinking about how we can serve more kids, how we can grow our programs, how we can be the best we can be! I have a great team who love kids and who are always looking to make the Boys & Girls Club a better place for our kids.” To Robert and his entire team, Rhonda admitted, “There is no thank-you big enough. To see the kids’ and staff’s reactions to the changes made my day, week and year.”
Check out behind-the-scenes images of Robert’s transformation of the Boys & Girls Club of Southwest Missouri.