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The Robert Irvine Foundation – A Very Worthy Cause

Logo for Blog LinkFor well over two hundred years the citizens of the United States have thrived behind the shield of the fighting men and women of our armed forces, who willingly place their very lives on the line to protect the freedoms and opportunity we all enjoy. Along with them, their families endure the times away and the potential catastrophic loss of their loved one. Children wait patiently for their mothers and fathers to simply come home.

There are many organizations which strive to give back and help these military families, and the cause is noble. We have our own ties to the armed forces, including a long association with the Navy and many immediate family members who served. This is a cause that is important to us. It’s one we’d like to take the time to highlight, in particular a new organization supporting our fighting men, women and families. That is the Robert Irvine Foundation.

We first met Robert at this past April’s SavorCT event, which we originally thought just looked like a good wine and food weekend. It certainly was, and you can read about that here. What we came to learn, however, was that it was supporting the Robert Irvine Foundation, and that made it even better. Chef Irvine was a force of nature during the two day event, and his efforts, along with the other volunteers and celebrity chefs that donated their time, raised $48,000 for the foundation. We witnessed a man completely committed to this cause. It was inspiring.

First a little about Chef Robert Irvine:

Chef Irvine started cooking in the British Royal Navy after enlisting at the age of fifteen. He continued hisFit Fuel: Robert Irvine culinary career in the cruise industry, and in leading hotels until getting his break in television as the host of Dinner: Impossible. After more than 100 episodes he moved on to his current show, Restaurant: Impossible, which not surprisingly is about helping people when you really get down to it. Since 2011 he has taken struggling restaurants, and the families that are struggling with them, and tries to help them sort it all out. Apparently he succeeds far more often than not.

Chef Irvine comes from a military family, and his brother served in the army. He has seen firsthand the sacrifice military members make, as well as their families. For many years he has supported the USO, as well as the Gary Sinise Foundation. If you’re not familiar with Gary’s organization you can visit it by clicking here. It was during some conversations with Gary that Chef Robert began to generate his idea for a new organization, one that would maximize the benefits it delivered to its intended beneficiaries.

Now some details about what he is working towards:

You can look up the amounts of total contributions that various charitable organizations actually deliver to the people they are set up to help. It can be a depressing study, as many spend large amounts on their staff

Chef Robert Irvine talks with US Marines during a USO tour stop at Camp Hansen in Okinawa, Japan on January 7, 2014.

and infrastructure. This was a great motivator for Robert, and his goal is to do it differently. Everyone working on the Robert Irvine Foundation volunteers their time. The goal here is for 99% of the donations to actually go to the military members and families. This is an incredibly ambitious effort, and it is not a lightly adopted target. I had the chance to talk about the foundation with Chef Irvine, and it is clear he will not budge. When I asked if he thought this model was sustainable, he said, simply, “we’re keeping it this way.” There is no doubt in my mind that he will make it happen.

With regard to why Chef Irvine felt the need to start his own foundation, and to do it this way, he said “I have heard a lot of complaints about the money donated to some of these charities not getting to the people who needed it. I wanted to make sure we did something real. I wanted to see if we could fill the gaps.” Thus the obsession that the all of the money donated here will directly benefit our military member and families. Additionally, there is really no limitation on the type of need the charity will consider. In the spirit of Chef Irvine’s goal to “fill the gaps” they are not limiting grants to any specific category. It’s a great model for others to try to follow.

Not everyone can pull this kind of thing off. Leading by example Robert pours his own money into the cause, deferring appearance fees and working on new projects which will contribute to the Foundation. A new food line is launching in July with the Giant Food grocery store chain, adding another source of funds. We already mentioned the proceeds from Savor. The list is growing. Corporate partners are also signing up, with American Airlines playing a very active role.

To understand how Robert can make this work, and get this kind of commitment from so many people, you need to understand his motivations. They are all centered on the people he is trying to help. How can you be sure you might ask? It’s easy. One minute into our conversation, once we had talked about what the Foundation was, he said “It’s my idea at the start, but other people are doing all of the work.” He singled out his Marketing Director, Dan McLean, talked about the other volunteers on his board and everyone else collectively who works on this. It is clearly not about him. He is also clearly downplaying his role tremendously.

We haven’t even mentioned the other work Chef Irvine does with the U.S. Navy, working to improve the skyballdiets of sailors, touring with the USO, supporting other worthy events and charities such Skyball, an annual event supported by American Airlines that honors our heroes and raises lots of money (read about it here), just to name a few.

What can you do? You can donate, you can volunteer, you can do anything directly or indirectly that supports the cause. Everything helps, which is an overused cliché but a true one. We are avid supporters of the Robert Irvine Foundation, and that includes a donation this year and in years to come.

marines with bannersYou can visit the Robert Irvine Foundation at http://www.robertirvinefoundation.org/. You can donate by clicking here. We are also posting a permanent link to the foundation on our homepage should you want to find them any time in the future. This is important work, and you will not find a charity more worthwhile, or that delivers more of the funds contributed to those in need, than this one.

A votre santé!

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