Steve Grau and his family emigrated from Ukraine in 1989, arriving in San Francisco with $80 to their name. He became interested in health care 15 years later, when he took a hands-on role caring for his grandfather after a series of debilitating strokes. Witnessing how emotional support impacted physical healing, Steve was inspired to leave the tech industry to start an ambulance service that focused on patient experience.

“I wanted to make sure that patients were not only safe and comfortable, but also had a positive, uplifting experience.”

Steve’s family put their savings together to help him launch Royal Ambulance, but when it came time to expand the company, he had exhausted all of his resources. With the help of Hebrew Free Loan, Steve grew Royal Ambulance from a team of 30 employees that transported a few thousand patients a year, to over 600 employees transporting over 80,000 patients a year. Royal Ambulance is now the Bay Area’s leading non-emergency medical service. Receiving help from a Jewish organization was particularly meaningful for Steve, because it wasn’t safe to be Jewish in the Soviet Union.

“In addition to the funds I needed to expand my company, Hebrew Free Loan gave me an invaluable sense of community. The staff was like family.”

Steve took on his first Jewish community leadership role at Hebrew Free Loan. After repaying his loan, Steve became the Steering Committee Chair of the Full Circle Club, a collective of former borrowers who support Hebrew Loan. He went on to serve on the agency’s Board of Directors for a number of years. Steve joined the Business Circle to support fellow entrepreneurs—not just financially, but also by providing them with insight and guidance. Steve encourages other former loan recipients to pay it forward and get involved.

“It’s the overall support, spirit, and community feel that makes the organization special. Hebrew Free Loan helps people take control into their own hands, and their remarkable repayment rate (99.5%) is indicative of how the organization empowers those who are asking for help.”

The Hebrew Free Loan Business Circle brings together local business owners to gain visibility and build customer loyalty while investing in Hebrew Free Loan’s community programs. Member benefits are tailored to individual business needs. Interested in joining? Learn more here or contact Jamie Hyams, Development Director, at or (415) 546-9902 x106.