Community Israel
October 14, 2021 | 10–12 min read

A Dedicated Employee and Volunteer – The Inspiring Story of Nir Finkelstein

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Nir Finkelstein is an individual who brings a unique and commendable dedication to every task he sets his eyes on. During his 26 years of work for ICL, he has chosen never to take a sick day. From the day Nir began volunteering back in 2003, he has never stopped and shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. Not only has his dedication been unmatched, but he has made it his personal goal to volunteer more and more time and puts forth his best effort to make it a reality. 

Cultivating strong ties with the communities in which ICL operates is an integral pillar of our beliefs. This is why we make a point to integrate volunteer activities at all of our sites around the globe. We believe that an essential part of empowering our employees is to provide them with a sense of self-fulfillment and empowerment, and ICL does this through our many volunteer activities. These activities aim to impact people’s lives through direct on the ground contact with the communities where we operate. As a result of these initiatives, many of our employees begin to volunteer during their time with ICL. Some become so dedicated to their projects that they continue to volunteer even after their retirement.

A perfect example of this dedication is Nir Finkelstein. He  began his career as a student in ICL Dead Sea and, after completing his studies as a mechanical engineer, returned to work at the same site, which ignited his passion. Over the years, he advanced through various positions and even managed the department of maintenance engineering at the power station. As many do, Nir began to see his department not just as coworkers but as a second family. A group of people who not only care about the organization but also each other. If any doubts remain on Nir’s dedication, it should be emphasized again that he never used a single sick day in his 26 years employed with ICL! Rain or shine, Nir showed up with a smile and was ready to work.

Nir began his journey as a volunteer back in 2003 at the Avitan daycare center located in Be’er Sheva. This initiative was started by Daniela Shmul (today DSW-HRM), who knew how important the daycare center was for those who utilized it. So, Daniela approached several employees to form a volunteer group consisting of six factory workers. As soon as Nir heard what the initiative was about, he immediately agreed to offer his aid. Nir has always been consistent during his time volunteering, visiting the daycare center at least once per week. Even during retirement Nir hasn’t slowed his pace. Quite the opposite, he has set a goal of expanding his volunteering alongside his sports and traveling activities. 

“The activities in the Avitan daycare center have almost everything a child needs from a parent,” Nir says, after a day in the Meymadion water park with the children of the center and their staff. “I help them do homework, we prepare for exams, shop for shoes and clothes, visit the HMO, and more,” Nir said. Besides the overall bonding experience 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. For example, last week, a bar mitzvah was celebrated for one of the boys from the center, who lost their father and with whom Nir has a special connection. The two spend time together, play, and share experiences during some 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 three times a week, in the afternoon and in the mornings. In addition, he volunteers in the recovery ward in Soroka, a volunteering experience he has described as “amazing.” In the recovery ward in Soroka, patients arrive after a stroke, road accidents, diseases, or infections that cause motor and cognitive problems and other obstacles. Nir assists the physiotherapists with the daily work with patients. Every patient in recovery is a world of their own, with a unique story and an individual recovery process. Recently, a patient who had arrived after having 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 own 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.” He adds that “Unofficially, often there are 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. The most memorable cases and the ones that 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 insists that the feeling is mutual. “Volunteering does me good, it fills my heart, and if it helps others in the process, 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 significant. 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 small role, and that’s true 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 for the Be’er Sheva and Negev district. For close to 6 years, he has been organizing the league, ensuring competitions, publishing results, and taking care of the logistics involved with organizing such events. Nir also volunteers at the Jewish National Fund (JNF), combining his love of dirt bike riding with environmental protection. He makes sure to report his findings to the JNF about damages to forests for further investigation.

Undoubtedly, Nir Finkelstein is an exceptional and inspirational figure. He continues his wide-ranging volunteer activities and 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.”

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