Mel Hoppenheim: The rent you pay for success is charity

Mel Hoppenheim: The rent you pay for success is charity


Larger than life and with a towering reputation, Mel Hoppenheim is a self-made man whose name is not only synonymous with the Montreal film industry but also with giving back.

Hundreds of organizations have benefited from his generosity over the years and one thing is clear: when it comes to philanthropy, Mel is a man who gives from the heart. Each cause he supports, from the Montreal Children’s Hospital to Concordia University’s Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, is one that has touched him or his family in some way. “Where you choose to give back is very simply where you took the most from,” he explains.

After quitting school at 17 to help support his family, Mel points out that the only place he could get his high-school leaving certificate while working and studying at night was Sir George Williams University. Fast forward to 1997 and Concordia University’s Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, with 500 students, was born.

You have to find what touches you
“Everything I give is to a project close to my heart.” he says. “It comes down to this: you have to find what touches you.” What touches Mel most is his family. A proud father of eight children and grandfather of nine, two of his children were born with the neurological degenerative disorder called Canavan disease. “They were both cared for by the Children’s for years. I had to give back,” he says. “Given what our experience had been, how could I give anywhere but to neurology?”

Mel created an endowment fund supporting fellows in neurology and it’s clear that he is delighted with the impact his investment will have on the lives of young patients and their families. “Look at this,” he says, beaming with pleasure while holding up a card he keeps on his desk. It’s a handwritten thank-you note from a researcher at the Children’s who benefited from Mel’s support. “Isn’t that beautiful? Who knows what she’ll bring to the world?”



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