When David Sherman retired from civilian service with the U.S. Navy, 150 people signed the framed picture of the facility where he worked for 41 years, attesting to the friends he made and the impact he had.
Now, David can add “Homeland volunteer” to a life full of accomplishment, athletics, and service. Every Thursday afternoon, he is a fixture in the Homeland hallways and gathering spaces, helping residents play dominoes or take a safe walk.
He also volunteers for Homeland Hospice, putting the monthly newsletter in envelopes for mailing. His volunteer service is an extension of his giving nature and a career devoted to protecting people and documents.
“That’s why I’m in security, to help people be safe,” he says.
David is a Harrisburg native, with a life that has taken many interesting turns. At age 2 and a half, he was diagnosed with hearing loss. For 15 years, he received speech and hearing therapy, learning to lipread from a Harrisburg therapist.
After graduating from William Penn High School in 1966, David learned sign language at Gallaudet University and attended the Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Center, in Johnstown. After getting a couple of jobs in Harrisburg, his parents were delighted and proud when he went to the Washington, DC, area and got a job with the U.S. Navy.
That was in 1971, the beginning of his 41-year career at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division in Bethesda, MD. He spent 27 of those years in security and document control. Sometimes, his work was classified. He was responsible for picking up documents at the Pentagon for years.
Throughout David’s life, Harrisburg’s Jewish community, and Kesher Israel Congregation, also known as KI, have been constants. He has served on the KI board and had his bar mitzvah in the former synagogue in uptown Harrisburg on July 4, 1960.
In 2022, after the congregation moved to a beautifully renovated new home in Harrisburg’s Riverside neighborhood, David celebrated his 75th birthday with a Kiddush party. As with his bar mitzvah, he received the Aliyah – or call – to read the Torah in Hebrew. Today, David helps provide security at the new synagogue's entry.
Another thread in David’s life is athletics. In high school, he lettered in cross country and track. He won ribbons for first and second place in the Navy 3K run and walk.
“The walk, I did in 19 minutes,” he says. “I was younger.”
He still runs, winning five ribbons in past Homeland Hospice 5K and Memory Walks and hoping for another at this year’s event on Oct. 22, as long as a bothersome knee heals up. In Bethesda, he also played right field for a softball team that won two championships, including one year when he won MVP.
Even when he lived in Maryland, he would come home on weekends to play basketball at the Jewish Community Center. He also played touch football for a Navy team and flag football for the JCC, where his best friend said he played the best defense.
David is also involved with the Hearing Loss Association of America. For 10 years, he served as treasurer for the organization’s 1,000-member Montgomery County, MD, chapter. He has traveled to 25 association conventions, helping provide security. He attended many of those conventions with his late wife, Deborah Beauregard Sherman, whom he met in a hearing-loss support group.
David retired from the Navy in 2012 and moved back to Harrisburg in 2018. Since 2019, he has filled his days with volunteering – delivering Meals on Wheels Friday mornings, helping at Homeland Center on Thursday afternoons. On Sunday mornings, you’ll find him at the Dauphin County Library System’s East Shore Area Library, where he set a personal record of 92 books shelved in three hours.
For a time, COVID restrictions kept David from coming into Homeland, but Homeland Activities Director Aleisha Arnold invited him back after they were lifted. Now, every Thursday, Aleisha gets a text from David to check that his volunteer shift is still on.
“The residents say how nice he is and warm to them,” Aleisha says. “He’s very pleasant. He’s very relatable to them. He’s very dedicated.”
David returns the compliment.
“I really like it here,” he says. “I’m very happy. Aleisha is happy for me to help people.”