Nir Finkelstein performs everything he chooses to do with a dedication that is out of the ordinary. During his 26 years of work for ICL he did not take a single sick day off, and from the day he began to volunteer in 2003 and till today – he never stopped. Not only did he never stop, but he also made it his goal to volunteer more and more, and gives it his all to meet this goal.
Cultivating ties with the local community is important to ICL everywhere we operate, which is why we integrate volunteer activities at every one of our sites around the world. With the help of the many volunteer activities, we impact people’s lives through direct and personal contact, strengthen the communities within which we operate, and contribute to the empowerment and sense of purpose of our employees. Many ICL employees begin to volunteer during their work and some of them become attached and dedicated to this activity and continue to volunteer even after retirement.
Meet Nir Finkelstein, 57, from Lehavim, who began his career as a student in ICL Dead Sea, and with the passing of years, not long after finishing his studies as a mechanical engineer, he returned to work at the site and advanced to various positions. Over the years, he managed the department of maintenance engineering and the power station’s department of maintenance. Nir felt that his department is practically his second family, where employees care for each other and the organization, and if you have any doubts, you should know that during his 26 years of employment Nir never used even a single sick day!
Nir began his volunteer activities in 2003, at the Avitan daycare center in Be’er Sheva, as part of a group of six workers from the factory. The activity was initiated by Daniela Shmul (today manager of Human Resources), who knew the daycare center and its important activity, and approached several employees to form a group to volunteer there. When Nir heard what it was about – he agreed right away. Nir was very consistent in his volunteer activity, visiting the daycare center once every single week. After his retirement, he has set himself the goal of expanding the volunteer alongside sports and traveling activities.
“The activities in the Avitan daycare center have almost everything a child needs from a parent,” Nir tells, after a day in the Meymadion water park with the children of the center and their staff, which includes 2 assistants and 3 instructors. “I help them do homework, we prepare for exams, shop for shoes and clothes, visit the HMO, and more.” Besides the overall bonding between the children, the volunteers, and the center staff through the various activities, there are children and youth with whom the connection is more personal. Last week a bar mitzvah was celebrated for one of the boys from the center, who lost a father and with whom Nir has a special connection. The two spend time together, play, and share experiences during personal quality time, and the center management is happy to see that Nir is a real father figure for the boy.
Today Nir volunteers at the daycare center 3 times a week, in the afternoon, and in the mornings he volunteers in the recovery ward in Soroka, a volunteering experience which he has described as amazing. In the recovery ward in Soroka, where patients arrive after a stroke, road accidents, diseases or infections which cause motor and cognitive problems, and more. Nir assists the physiotherapists with the daily work with patients. Every patient in recovery is a world of his or her own, with a unique story and an individual recovery process. Recently, a patient who had arrived after a stroke has been discharged from the ward. “When he came in, we would move him from the chair to the bed using a crane, and last week he left the ward on his two feet, using a single crutch. To be able to see and know that you helped him and others like him get their lives back is an exciting feeling that is difficult to describe.” “Unofficially,” he adds, “often private exchanges of all sorts take place between us and patients who need advice or someone to listen to them.” Nir receives letters of gratitude from patients, most of them personal and moving, and those cases which are most memorable and remain in his heart are those when a patient is discharged and says “You are more than just a friend for me, you are like a brother.”
Nir’s contribution to the community is immense and he says that the feeling is mutual: “Volunteering does me good, fills my heart, and if others benefit from it then it’s double the benefit. I see the children being happy, doing well in their studies, overcoming difficulties, and I know I have been a part of this.” In the hospital the satisfaction is equally great, Nir adds, “I see patients arrive in the ward and I see them leave, and that’s very exciting. Indeed, I am not an official authority, but I played a tiny role and that’s happiness. Words of thanks from the patients, from the physiotherapists, from the occupational therapy and the nursing staff – it’s intoxicating.”
In addition to the Avitan center and Soroka, Nir volunteers at two other places. He is the coordinator of the Office Sports League in the field of dirt bikes in the Be’er Sheva and Negev district. For close to 6 years, he has been organizing the league, making sure competitions take place, results are published, and the logistics of it all taken care of. Nir also volunteers at the Jewish National Fund where he combines his dirt bike riding hobby with environmental protection, and makes sure to report to his contact in the company about damages to forests, which she passes on to foresters for further investigation.
Undoubtedly, Nir Finkelstein is an exceptionally inspirational figure. He continues his wide-ranging volunteer activity and also enjoys spending his free time with his eldest granddaughter, born a little over a year ago. He concluded with a statement that is simple, moving and wise – “It’s happiness and health that counts, not wealth.”