Silicon Valley entrepreneur Jack Melchor and his wife Norma were passionate supporters of El Camino Hospital from the very beginning. Among the first to recognize the need for a local, community hospital and to put their considerable energies and talents behind it, they remained deeply involved for more than half a century. In recent years, they chose to direct their philanthropic largesse to the hospital's heart and vascular program and, after Norma died in February 2012, Jack and the family chose to honor her memory by committing several million dollars to support the Heart & Vascular Institute's lifesaving work.
In recognition of this extraordinary gift, the hospital rededicated the institute as the Norma Melchor Heart & Vascular Institute at a celebration reception attended by family, friends, hospital leaders and supporters on December 20, 2012.
Norma first became aware of El Camino Hospital in 1957 when she read about the newly forming Auxiliary in the local newspaper. A former surgical nurse, she was immediately interested in becoming involved and joined the fledgling group of volunteers. She helped
to organize the reception and information desk and conducted tours of the new facility on the hospital's opening day. A natural leader, she served as the Auxiliary's chair of training in 1961, as vice president in 1962, and as president in 1963. Norma also co-chaired the Citizens Committee for the El Camino Hospital District, promoting the second bond issue for the hospital expansion.
She was elected four times to the El Camino Hospital District Board of Directors, serving as president one term. She also became a board member of the El Camino Insurance Exchange and chair of the El Camino Hospital Budget and Development Committees.
Meanwhile, Jack Melchor recognized the hospital's need for philanthropic support to advance its health care mission. Accordingly, in 1982, he founded the El Camino Hospital Foundation, an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to fundraising on behalf of El Camino Hospital. He recruited an elite group of Silicon Valley high tech pioneers to join him in this endeavor and to match the $1 million in seed money he and Norma personally contributed. Jack became the Foundation's first chair and served on its board for nine years, recruiting an influential group of directors, hiring professional staff, soliciting donations from prominent community members, and setting in place a fundraising strategy for the coming decade.
In addition to their leadership gift to establish the Foundation, the Melchors repeatedly demonstrated exceptional generosity to El Camino Hospital over the ensuing years. They made significant contributions to the campaign to build the Orchard Pavilion and to the hospital's 25th Anniversary Advancement Campaign. They also donated the land upon which the Melchor Pavilion now stands. When their beloved daughter Karen died in 2009, they made another generous gift to name the fountain outside the Mountain View hospital entrance in her memory.
The couple turned their attention to heart and vascular care in 2005, when Norma became chair of the Foundation's $25 million Imagine Campaign. They chose to allocate their campaign gift to create an endowment for the newly formed Heart & Vascular Institute. Since then, earnings from the endowment have been used to purchase special equipment for the cardiac catheterization laboratory that more accurately diagnoses coronary artery disease in women.
In addition to the endowment, the couple also provided generous underwriting to the Advanced Endovascular Fellowship Program, a joint initiative of the Heart & Vascular Institute and Fogarty Institute for Innovation that provides post graduate, multi-disciplinary training in all aspects of vascular disease to promising young cardiologists. Always looking for the fun in fundraising, Norma one year required the physician leaders of the Heart & Vascular Institute to sing "What a Wonderful World" during the golf tournament fund-in-need appeal in order to earn her donation to that program.
The Melchor family's recent gift commitment will further support the Heart & Vascular Institute's clinical programs and research. Together with the family's past gifts it represents the largest cumulative gift to El Camino Hospital Foundation from any philanthropic source. A loving tribute to Norma, it epitomizes the Melchors' enduring commitment to our community's health and to its hospital.