When Dave Sheinbart retired in 2013, he found himself waking up every morning wondering how to fill his newfound free time. Seven years later, he found community initiatives to do just that.
For 14 years, a couple of which were during retirement, Sheinbart was a member of Pepper Pike’s Community Emergency Response Team. The team is comprised of residents dedicated to assisting the city’s police and fire departments.
At his temple, Suburban Temple-Kol Ami in Beachwood, he has worn several hats – from vice president, treasurer and membership chairman to a member of the usher committee. Sheinbart said whenever someone needs help, he’s typically the one to raise his hand.
But his main endeavor lies at Geauga Humane Society’s Rescue Village in Russell Township, where Sheinbart walks the shelter dogs at 8 a.m. every Wednesday. He also works at the welcome desk, helping people who stop in or callers looking for information. Additionally, Sheinbart said he is also an event coordinator for the organization’s biggest yearly event, Woofstock.
“It’s a tough job because there are so many parts, but it’s also really fun,” he said.
CJN: Why did you choose these activities?
Sheinbart: For Rescue Village, I was working a gift show with my daughters and one of their friends came up to me and asked if I was interested in volunteering at the shelter. I asked what it entailed, and she told me it was walking the dogs and getting them ready for adoptions. I said point blank I didn’t want to walk dogs because I’m a very sensitive person. On my first day, she showed me how to walk them anyway, and I’ve done it for seven years since. You have to love the dogs. It’s a no-kill shelter, and it’s not just dogs and cats. It’s any animal that needs rescuing. The people there are great.
With CERT, I took a 10-week police academy course. One of the men that was sitting across from me at my table asked if I would be interested in taking over CERT. I asked what it was about and decided to do it. The training was fantastic from the fire and police departments. I was in a position to be able to save someone’s life. And it was a learning experience every day.
CJN: What was your motivation to volunteer in retirement?
Sheinbart: I kind of fell into it. When I retired, I kind of had a stress level that I needed to fill. I would wake up every morning and I didn’t have anything to do when it felt like I should. It’s a mental thing when you get up every day to work and then suddenly you don’t have to. I also took a course at Cuyahoga Community College in philosophy, as it was one of my big interests in school. It was a void to fill, so I found something to do.
CJN: Do you have a favorite volunteering memory?
Sheinbart: With CERT, we did this simulation aircraft crash within a natural disaster at Burke Lakefront Airport, and some people were dressed as causalities. It was pretty heavy, but informative. Another time, we had a simulation where a person was missing in the woods near Ursuline College. Our team set out to find her and they also had a rescue dog look too. The dog found her in under three minutes and it took us over 20 minutes. That was an odd and funny memory.
CJN: Has volunteering impacted how you view retirement?
Sheinbart: It keeps me alive, believe it or not. I’m very healthy for 77. Walking my dog and the dogs at the shelter help. I got my dog for a retirement present and I walk him every day, for one or two miles a day. He even sleeps with me at night, right on top of me.
But the volunteering though, I love animals. With dogs, getting them acclimated to human beings is like personally training them. So, when someone comes to the shelter to adopt them, they’re friendly and like people. I sit with them and give them treats and let them know humans aren’t bad. Because some of these dogs come from bad places, unfortunately. We try and get all the dogs adopted. When they do get adopted after being at the shelter for over a year, I do get tears in my eyes because I know these guys. It’s an amazing and enjoyable experience.
Though the future is unclear due to the pandemic, Sheinbart plans to take his retirement in stride.
“I just want to continue what I am doing for as long as I can,” he said. “I’m 77 and my family, daughters and their husbands all live within seven minutes of our house. We’re together all the time. So, my goal is to keep my family together and happy, and to support my family and anyone else that needs support. I am here to help and can always be that listening ear.”