Non Nobis Solum. Not For Ourselves Alone. This simple but powerful motto is one that Paul Marchand learned in high school, and which ultimately has shaped the course of his life. A lawyer specializing in the field of estates and trusts for over 50 years, this native Montrealer has seen his fair share of cases, but the one that remains closest to his heart is giving back to his community.
His first experience with helping people in need came when he was a young lawyer tasked with providing pro bono legal aid to residents of Montreal’s Little Burgundy neighbourhood. “I helped several people working on the city’s railroad systems gain eligibility for their old age security pension,” he explains. “The experience was very rewarding and it served as an important reminder from my childhood that I needed to do my part and give back to my community,” he says. From there, he lent his time and energy to other local organizations ranging from youth services to education, but it was an experience at the Royal Victoria Hospital of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) that helped him truly understand the meaning of ‘paying it forward’.
A persistent heart murmur required Paul to regularly visit his cardiologist at the hospital. “During one of my check-ups, my doctor noticed that my heart condition had gotten progressively worse,” he explains. “The ‘alarm bell’ was rung and I needed to have urgent open-heart surgery. A three-hour procedure turned into 12 hours, and considering all of the complications that occurred, the fact that I am still here is truly astonishing,” he recalls.
Grateful to the hospital for saving his life, Paul became involved with our foundation as a member of the Board of Directors. “Volunteering with the foundation was one of the ways to say thank you to the community of medical professionals who not only cared for me, but also care for the Montreal community at large,” he says. In addition to his work on our Board, he became a generous donor to nursing education, inspired by the compassionate care his wife Jennifer received during her battle with ovarian cancer. “Jennifer’s diagnosis was sudden and she became ill very quickly. However, the entire staff at the MUHC took such great care of her, and I got to know the nurses on her floor quite well. They were extremely special people and when Jennifer passed away, I wanted to support the important work that they do in her memory,” Paul says.
It is due to this longstanding commitment to helping others that led the MUHC Foundation to name Paul as the first ever recipient of our Volunteer of the Year award. For over 20 years he has remained dedicated to supporting of our mission of funding research, teaching, and the best in patient care at the MUHC.
Passionate about the city that he has called home his entire life, Paul has seen the evolution of Montreal’s culture and community. “I know that the city has changed but what has remained the same is the fact that every great city has a great hospital,” he explains. “The MUHC is such an important part of Montreal because not only because it is large and diverse, but because its people are residents of the community and they provide exceptional care to its citizens.”
Non Nobis Solum is more than just a motto for Paul, it is his way of life. “The one constant in my life has always been the knowledge that I need to give back,” he states. “Anything you do can be paid forward. The glass is always half full and whether or not you choose to fill it or empty it is up to you,” he says.
* Paul Marchand is also the Executive Director of the Doggone Foundation and was instrumental in securing the landmark $15 million donation for the McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity.