By REBECA KUROPATWA
David Greaves has recently been appointed executive director of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) Winnipeg, another positive step on his noteworthy journey in supporting Israel and the Jewish community.
It was almost 20 years ago, in 2002, that Greaves founded the Israeli National Bobsleigh Team. That sparked his decision to become an Israeli citizen.
“Seeing the Star of David amongst all the other countries, wherever we happened to be – Germany, North America – it was always really powerful to me,” said Greaves. “That sort of ignited something or added fuel to the Jewish pilot light that was inside of me. And it led me to want to be more involved in community when I got back to Winnipeg.”
Greaves worked with the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg (JFW) and the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba (JFM) before deciding six years ago to open Protexia, a consulting business that helps charitable non-profits take their fundraising performance to the next level.
“But, I’ve always said that, as much as I wasn’t sure that I wanted to go back to a desk job, I felt if the right opportunity came along, that I would consider it,” said Greaves aboutj his new role with the JNF.
“I was grateful to bump into Larry Vickar recently, and he mentioned that this position at JNF was available, as Ariel Karbelnikoff had left.”
Greaves decided to put his business venture aside to take on the role at the JNF, though he is keeping Protezia going, managing it from afar, with his colleagues running the day-to-day operations.
While Greaves still volunteers as head of the Israeli National Bobsleigh team, he is now also focused on Israel during his working hours – something he describes as “a dream come true.
“It’s been a really great feeling to see people comment or send messages like, ‘It’s a perfect fit,’ ‘I’m so happy for you,’ and ‘I couldn’t think of anyone else for this job.’ Those kinds of comments reassure me that I made the right choice...and also, that people know me as someone who is committed to Israel.”
With the Winnipeg JNF telethon that took place on February 2nd and the JNF Gala coming up this spring, Greaves has his work cut out for him. Yet from the local and national JNF staff, he has received tremendous support.
“The staff here is great,” said Greaves. “I’m really happy and grateful that they have their acts together, so to speak. They are well versed in everything...if I need something, they know where to find it.”
This year, the JNF Gala is set to take place on May 26, with a performance by Israeli singer/songwriter, David Broza, accompanied by members of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (WSO). The evening will honour Dr. Ted Lyons in support of the Beit KKL-Canada House Community Centre that is being built in Sderot.
“It’s kind of an after-school community center for tweens and teens that allow them to focus on some specialities they might be interested in, like science and technology,” said Greaves. “There’s a few being built across the country. There’s one in northern Israel (Nof Hagallil) where Ted [Lyons] and his wife visited a few weeks ago.” A short video of the Nof Hagallil build is available here: https://youtu.be/mYjeOePIS0o.
“They [the Lyons] were just overwhelmed by the kids and the people they talked to,” said Greaves. “They also went down to meet the mayor of Sderot, to see the land where the JNF Canada has taken on the project to build this facility.”
More than anything, Greaves is aiming to work on community cohesion in his new role.
“At the end of the day, we have a responsibility, as the organizations or the fundraisers in the community, to help facilitate the amazing donor community that we have here,” he said. “So, wherever it is that our donors want to have an impact, all of us have to work together to make sure that our donors can do what they want to do.
“The more people we have donating and supporting Jewish causes - and I include Israel in that, the better community we are, and the stronger community we are. That’s going to be my message going forward as I talk to all the other agencies and organizations that do the same thing that I do. We are really all in the same boat.
“I’m excited about the leadership of our community and about the generation that’s taking over now from the generation that’s done amazing work for us until now.”