January 12, 2015
All creatures great and small
Tom Fellin, a case worker in our Foster Care and Adoption Programs has been working for Good Shepherd (and one of its predecessors) for over 30 years. He’s a bit of an institution here, pretending to be a curmudgeon, but universally adored for his humor and genuine care for his workmates, even if not for his choice in sports team (he’s a Cubs fan). Tom works as part of the resource development team in our Foster Care Program, and he also fields over 300 calls annually regarding our adoption records, many from adopted individuals or their descendants looking for information about their families. What you may not know is that Tom is also a cat whisperer. Since arriving on the Good Shepherd campus, Tom has made it his mission to take care of a rag tag and ever changing group of stray cats in the area—making sure they have food and water, regardless of weather or circumstance. When he can’t be here, he assigns the task to others, complete with a premeasured package of food and clear, written instructions.
It’s not the same, however, when Tom isn’t around…because he’s the cat whisperer. He knows each one, both past and present, and he knows their habits and temperaments. Most of the cats (there’s currently a half dozen or so that stop by at various times) won’t come near anyone but Tom. One, in particular, took a very long time to warm up, but now she waits for his arrival very early every morning—sometimes hopping in his car and always zig zagging in and out of his legs as he makes the journey from the green door to the impromptu feeding station near the fence line. It’s no surprise to anyone here that Tom has extended our commitment to serving those in need to include these four-legged population of at-risk clients. He’s a softy at heart—despite his best efforts to suggest otherwise.