Sheldon and Shelden: They Share a Name and Passion for Volunteering
When rookie LVHN volunteer Sheldon Dubois, 17, was paired up with nine-year-veteran volunteer Shelden Radin, 80, for the summer of 2017, the shared name instantly bonded them.
“I’ve never met anyone else named Sheldon in my life,” says the younger Sheldon. He does not count his family, of which Dubois is a fifth-generation Sheldon, and often called “Five” by those close to him.
And of course, there’s the popular Sheldon Cooper from CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory.” That Sheldon is a physicist, just like Radin, a retired Lehigh University physics professor. “I’m more like Leonard (Big Bang’s other physicist) than Sheldon,” he says.
Both have servants’ hearts. Before joining LVHN, Radin volunteered at the Da Vinci Science Center, the Wildlands Conservancy and ArtsQuest. “I’ve always wanted to do something for the good of the community,” he says. Dubois, an avid hockey player, volunteers with the Special Hockey of the Lehigh Valley Polar Bears as an on-ice instructor. He was one of 90 teens to volunteer at LVHN this summer.
During each four-hour shift, they kindly direct visitors and patients who approach them with a slew of requests. They help people navigate their way to a doctor’s office or find the nearest elevator.
“Can we help you, sir?” and “Are you alright?” are questions frequently asked by the duo. Both are eager to help people, and they each have stories about how their work truly impacts others.
“Some patients share personal things with us,” Dubois says. He tells a story of a patient he helped push in a wheelchair to the pharmacy who had been through a hard time. “I was able to share some of my experiences with her,” Dubois says. “I wasn’t a social person, but this job forced a lot of social contact. It broke me out of my shell.”
Each day, Radin and Dubois fill out a volunteer greeter log to track the number of times they help people. “The most I’ve helped is 74,” Radin says. On average, they help between 30 and 60 people each shift.
Throughout their summer together, Shelden and Sheldon became close over their shared love of learning. They discuss science, history (with fellow volunteers who are war veterans) and articles in “The Economist.” Radin brought in each issue for the pair to pour over. “I learned so much from him,” says the younger volunteer. “He even taught me about the electromagnetic spectrum.”
Physics lessons aside, together they spent the summer enriching the lives of those who visited their desk. Behind that desk is a taped paper border that says, “Today is a good day to have a good day.”
“Our job,” Radin says, “is making patients and their families feel better about being here.”
Know someone who wants to volunteer at LVHN? Tell them to visit LVHN.org/volunteer or call 610-969-2850.