Longstanding advocate of giving where you’re living, local businessman Mel Cooper received United Way’s Honorary Life Membership in June 2014 for his part in making life better for Greater Victoria’s more vulnerable citizens over the past 40 years.

His contributions to local, regional and national charities, non-profit boards, foundations and community groups are legend. A generous donor himself, Mel also helped yield significant giving increases while serving on United Way’s Campaign Cabinet from 2002 to 2006 and as chair in 2005.

Motivated by the principle where “setting a good example is more important than giving good advice,” Mel believes a richer life can be had when you give more than you take. At 81, his boundless energy, charm, and business savvy give evidence he’s living proof.

Mel will tell you that raising countless millions to improve the lives of many is hard work. When asked how he became such a master marketer, he laughs and says, “It’s just the way my Newfie mind works. I can see past the middle to the end point.”

Proud of his east coast heritage and still partial to living in places with big ocean views, Mel and his family came west in 1945. He pursued a career in broadcasting, rose quickly to lead Western Broadcasting in Vancouver (he was named a Sales Manager at 22), Mel then came to Victoria in 1974 when he purchased CFAX.

Drawn to Vancouver Island long prior, Mel admits, “I always felt there was something special about this place and I felt touched by this city.” Victoria has enjoyed unprecedented benefits as a result.

His decades-long volunteer work has brought too many awards and accomplishments to count. Today, Mel focuses on non-profit board development, mentoring youth, and serving as Chair of the Telus Victoria Community Board.

A career in broadcasting lends Mel a deeper perspective on social matters and the kind of community action that fosters positive change. “Working with kids, enabling schools and universities; I try to focus on helping the good people in our city who are putting everything they’ve got into serving children and youth.”

“Working with United Way allows us to do that and so much more,” he explains. “They cast a wider net of support for our community, targeting the needs that are greatest.” In a word, Mel says, it’s the “we” not the “me” factor that makes all the difference. “We can do more together than we ever can alone.”

“United Way’s Honorary Life Membership recognizes volunteers who have made a significant contribution to furthering the organization’s mission and vision and highlights their outstanding dedication in resolving critical human and social issues in the community,” says Peter Lockie. “Mel’s exemplary record speaks for itself – he has been a long-time community leader and a strong supporter of the United Way. Our Board of Directors is honoured to recognize his achievements through this membership.”