Driving past the future site of Mackenzie Vaughan Hospital in the fall of 2016, Elvio De Meneghi knew the time was now.

He and his brother, Ivonis, had always believed it was important to do what they could to improve the community in which they lived.

Supporting a new hospital in Vaughan was the most meaningful way to do that.

The De Meneghi family’s transformative gift pledge of $3 million to the Exceptional Care Belongs Here campaign for Mackenzie Health is driven, very simply, by a desire to ensure their community would finally have the health care it needs.

“We, as a family and business owners rooted in Vaughan, said very early on, we need to do this,” Ivonis says. “It was an easy decision for us. The need for a hospital in this community is dire.”

The De Meneghis are the founders and owners of Lormel Homes – named after their mother and father, Lorenzo and Melina – one of the GTA’s premier real estate developers and builders.

Elvio and Ivonis, along with their respective wives, Vicki and Lora, waited for the opportunity to invest in what they feel is the most important service a community can have – a hospital with specialized services, close to home.

Losing their mother to cancer 10 years ago, sadly, put a spotlight on this need for the family.

“You don’t recognize what you don’t have until you need it,” Elvio says. “Mom had to travel outside our community almost daily for treatment. It was just the way it had to be. But if we could have stayed closer to home for her care, that would have helped.”

The brothers have six children between them and core family values and traditions learned from their parents have always been top of mind.

“Our parents come from very humble beginnings,” Elvio says. “We tried to raise our kids the way we were raised – to understand traditional values of hard work and the need to give back to your community.”

Immigrating to Canada from Italy in search of work in 1956, Lorenzo De Meneghi worked three jobs to save enough to buy himself a car and secure a place to live.

In 1963, he met the love of his life, Melina, who had also left Italy for the opportunities Canada had to offer. They were married six months later.

In 1970, Lorenzo and two others founded Royal Plastics, which became North America’s largest PVC profile manufacturer. He retired in 1994.

In honour of the family’s generosity, the corridor that connects the Magna Emergency to the state-of-the-art Medical Imaging department will be named The Lorenzo and Melina De Meneghi Boulevard of Care.

The brothers agree this is how their parents would have wanted to give back for their fortunate life.

“It is the artery that connects patients and families to a very critical and life-saving service,” Ivonis says. “The technology within Mackenzie Vaughan Hospital is impressive. It is comforting to our family to know that Vaughan will be receiving the most advanced medical technology available.”

Mackenzie Vaughan Hospital will be the first hospital in Canada to feature fully integrated “smart” technology, with systems and medical devices that communicate directly to maximize information exchange for the best patient care.

“Our goal as a family is to help make sure it (the hospital) is there when we need it, when our children need it and when future generations need it,” Elvio says.

They hope their gift will send the message that full community support is crucial to this important project. “We aren’t the type of family to put ourselves out there and share what our passions and interests are, but we feel that if our gift helps to inspire others to come on board, then we’ve done our job,” Ivonis says.

— Danielle Luciano

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