Following over 40 years of donorship and volunteer work, 81-year-old Mel Cooper received an honorary life membership from United Way to commemorate his dedication to the organization and its mission of resolving social issues within the Greater Victoria region.
The honour was presented to Cooper during the United Way general meeting on June 24.
“Mel’s exemplary record speaks for itself,” said Peter Lockie, board chair of United Way of Greater Victoria.
“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.”
Cooper served on United Way’s campaign cabinet from 2002 to 2006, and as chair in 2005, where he helped the organization significantly increase donations.
“Working with United Way allows us to do that and so much more,” Cooper said. “They cast a wider net of support for our community, targeting the needs that are greatest.”
Though born in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Cooper relocated to British Columbia at the age of 13 in 1945, and has since approached household name status throughout the province. A broadcaster by trade, Cooper started his career at Western Broadcasting in Vancouver, quickly rising through the ranks before moving to Victoria in 1974 to purchase CFAX.
After immense success with CFAX, Cooper took the helm of marketing and revenue for Expo 86 in Vancouver, raising more than $174 million in corporate donations, and was later monumental in having the Commonwealth Games brought to Victoria in 1994.
“I always felt there was something special about this place and I felt touched by this city,” Cooper said.
Cooper has served on the boards of several charitable organizations, both local and national, including the David Foster Foundation and Salvation Army. Presently, Cooper serves as chair of the Telus Victoria Community Board, which has helped fund 196 projects in Greater Victoria since its inception in 2007, amounting to $2.2 million in donations.
“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.”