It’s unusual that I would be writing about the loss of companion animals for two consecutive months but Collective Resource Compost’s working cat Lucky has punched the clock for his final shift and deserves his own blogpost.

I’m going to back up and tell you how we came to have a working cat at our garage, before I tell you what he meant to both our employees who work there, as well as the employees of neighboring businesses.

In the fall of 2017, our former garage manager, Tomas Minotas, had the idea to get a couple of cats to help with rodent control. Tomas and his wife Igna, both cat owners and cat lovers, found a local shelter that had a program and brought Lucky and Benjamin the Grey home to the garage. Both of them were really shy at the beginning. They lived together there for two years.  Benjamin was so shy that when he disappeared, it took a few days for the garage crew to notice. Lucky became the company’s mascot.

Our morning garage manager, Chris Lowery, had felt a connection to Lucky from even before he was hired. On the day of his interview with Erlene, he was let into the garage early by another employee, and while waiting for her to arrive, Lucky hopped onto his lap. He stayed there through the entire interview and Chris is convinced that Lucky helped him get the job.

All of these sweet remembrances come from our bucket washing and compost collection crew and their managers.

Lucky would always follow one of our newer drivers, Brian Keeler, around the garage until he got on his truck and when he returned from doing his route, Lucky would be there to help direct him into his parking spot. Brian also marveled that Lucky would just appear out of nowhere. Lucky took his job seriously and was often patrolling his territory but also had a good work/life balance, always taking the time to hang out with fellow employees and resting when needed.

Jeremy Barrows, our hiring, training and staffing coordinator, described Lucky as his best work buddy, meaning no offense to his human coworkers. It was apparent how fond Jeremy was of Lucky by the many beautiful photos he took of him, including the ones here.

Building Community

We talk a lot about building community through sustainability here at Collective Resource Compost. Lucky built community for our garage crew with the neighboring businesses. All of the employees tried hard to keep him indoors but Lucky had other ideas and would not be contained. He divided his time among Sam, Mark and Ziggy at Ridgeway Auto, Ned at Allied Seals and our garage crew. Chris credits Lucky for the relationships that he enjoys with these men. Lucky went to every business, caught mice, lounged and endeared himself to everyone. Sam calls Lucky the only cat he ever liked and would put bird videos from Youtube on his computer screen for Lucky to attack. A friend of Sam’s had had a stroke and almost every work morning he’d visit Lucky at the garage to get inspiration for the day. 

Jeremy described him as independent but not aloof. And though he spent time at the other businesses, he knew that our garage was his home. He’ll be sorely missed.

More places to donate

I heard from more than one of our sweet customers in response to last month’s blog post with both condolences for my dear departed dog and suggestions for other places to donate pet things. This one is located in Skokie: Community Animal Rescue Effort (C.A.R.E.™), a volunteer-driven, nonprofit organization with a mission to serve the communities of Chicago’s North Shore by fostering and supporting healthy, positive relationships between people and companion animals. If you want to donate goods, check out their wishlist here:

For unopened pet food, they also have dropboxes at three Pet Supplies Plus stores in Evanston, Morton Grove and Lincolnwood.

Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC) where Lucky and Ben were found has donation needs that you can find here on their website.

There’s also a Facebook group called Dog Dibs Chicago that might be helpful.

If you’d like to learn more about working cats, Tree House Humane Society has a great description of their Cats At Work program here on their website.

Author Details
Zero Waste Consultant | Collective Resource, Inc.

Mary Beth strongly believes that, “It’s always better to be doing something rather than nothing.” If you’re thinking of composting at home, she can help you work out what your particular “something” can be.

She’s confident a solution can be tailored to fit anyone’s needs and ambitions. “Anyone who eats can be a CRI customer, whether you are an individual or a large organization. I want you to understand the advantages of composting, and I can show you how CRI can make it easy.” Mary Beth has successfully designed waste diversion strategies for individuals, schools, houses of worship and other communities. She’s received the governor’s Environmental Hero award for her work at her daughter’s school. Whether you’re starting with a backyard bin, a kitchen bucket, a worm farm, or large-scale commercial collection, Mary Beth can be your good-natured guide.