Dror Fuchs in Israel with the ambulance donated by Winnipeg. (photo by Ariel Karabelnicoff)
In May 2013, the first Winnipeg-donated ambulance took to the streets of Israel. The vehicle was largely donated by allocations from Jewish Foundation of Manitoba fundholders responding to an ambulance fundraising drive, with additional money from members of the general community topping off donations. Another campaign for a second Winnipeg-donated ambulance is already on its way.
The Canadian Magen David Adom (CMDA) Winnipeg chapter ambulance-drive telethon was held on Nov. 24, 2013, with lead CMDA Winnipegger organizers Yolanda Papini Pollack and Sheldon Zamik, assisted by members of the CMDA Winnipeg chapter.
Growing up in Israel, Papini Pollack said she had to learn early on that it is never too early to prepare for a crisis.
“It’s rewarding to have a small role in saving the life of someone in need,” she told the Independent. “It scares me to think someone won’t get the medical treatment s/he needs due to a lack of operational ambulances.
“Magen David Adom has always been instrumental in helping save lives of Israeli residents, regardless of their ethnicity or religion. It’s an organization that unites all sectors of Israeli society.”
A filmmaker and educator, Papini Pollack created a short video clip to help convey the message of the fundraising drive and also spearheads the annual telethon.
“It was a great feeling to accomplish our goal last year, but there was also a feeling of fulfilling a duty,” she said. “This is something I had to be involved in, as I have a responsibility to the people of Israel. This is the least I can do.”
CMDA’s Winnipeg chapter wants to send more ambulances to Israel.
“It will be amazing if even one person in Israel would be able to say, ‘My life was saved thanks to an ambulance sent by people of Winnipeg.’”
“Wouldn’t it be great if Winnipeg could send an ambulance to Israel every year?” she asked. “It will be amazing if even one person in Israel would be able to say, ‘My life was saved thanks to an ambulance sent by people of Winnipeg.’
“Last year’s donors were so happy to see that 100 percent of their money was used to buy the ambulance. They were also thrilled to see a concrete photo of what their donation was able to achieve – the actual ambulance serving the people of Israel and being appreciated.”
Papini Pollack has received many messages from people in Winnipeg, expressing their thanks, as well as from people in Israel very appreciative of this lifesaving gift.
“Hearing that all the volunteers want to ride in the new Winnipeg ambulance was one of the most heart-warming things I heard all year,” she said.
The Winnipeg chapter of CMDA will continue raising awareness about the importance of MDA, while raising funds to send the second Winnipeg-sponsored ambulance to Israel.
“Our goals are very attainable,” said Papini Pollack. “We already raised a large portion of the needed money needed, with hope our community will succeed again this year.
“People wanting to get involved are welcomed to join our committee or help in other ways. We always need more volunteers and donations of any amount.”
Ariel Karabelnicoff, executive director of Canadian Associates of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Manitoba Region, first heard about the ambulance fundraising drive last September, having crossed paths with Papini Pollack at the Prophecy Conference, an event to which they were both invited to have a booth.
“When I heard the first ambulance was on its way, it felt amazing,” said Karabelnicoff. “I was proud of my colleagues and the people of Winnipeg. And, as I shared with other people news that the ambulance was on its way, they too were proud and impressed.”
Karabelnicoff’s current connection to MDA is through his friend’s son, Dror Fuchs, a 16-year-old who volunteers with MDA (during his free time, on weekends) in Israel.
“I heard from John Plantz, a Christian Zionist who is one of the main organizers of the Prophecy Conference in Winnipeg and who is part of the fundraising campaign for the ambulance, that he is very excited that Winnipeggers successfully sent an ambulance,” said Karabelnicoff.
“Recently, Dror sent me a photo of a brand new ambulance he was volunteering on and he mentioned it came from Winnipeg. You could probably imagine how I felt inside.”
To donate to the Winnipeg chapter ambulance drive or the Vancouver chapter ambulance drive, send a cheque to CMDA head office in Montreal (at CMDA, Suite 3155, 6900 Decarie Blvd., Montreal, QC, H3X 2TB), with mention of where you would like the money to go to, call 1-800-731-2848, or visit cmdai.org. CMDA is a registered charity and all donations will be acknowledged with a tax receipt.
Rebeca Kuropatwa is a Winnipeg freelance writer.