When Calvin Tucker graduated from Jess Lanier in 1988, he set out on a path that was definitely not community service. He was, he said, part of the problem. Born in Los Angeles, Calvin Tucker moved to Bessemer as a child. He loved the city, got a good education, and hung out at the A.G. Gaston Boys Club. Even so, he squandered college offers. He was a young man looking for trouble, and he found plenty. Then one day, leaving his job, he spotted a tiny gray kitten. The kitten changed everything.

Oh, he had seen cats before. Hated them. Claimed he was allergic. But that kitten, now famous in the rescue community as Henry, touched something deep and turned Calvin Tucker’s life around. Henry was the spark that in 3 busy years exploded into the energy to feed, at this point, 100 animals at 19 locations all over the metro area. Every day. Dedicated to Trap-Neuter-Release efforts, he has trapped 200 desperate animals, rushed them into vet care, and set up 96 of them with fosters or permanent homes. Cats are his focus, but a few dogs have benefitted too. Lately he found homes for an emu and a pair of alpacas.

Tucker has a talent for organizing helpers. One word to announce a need on Facebook, and people all over town say, “Yes, I’ll help.” It worked with a call for blankets for the homeless, Thanksgiving meals for elderly people in the Dartmouth Avenue community of the Bessemer Housing Project, and – now in progress – book bags loaded with school supplies for children selected by the Bessemer School Board. Paperwork is complete now for SOCAT, a 501-c3 corporation that will become a hub for animal rescue, vet care, and adoptions.

You might see Calvin Tucker alone at any hour, jumping from his car with a sack of cat food and a jug of water. He might be behind a restaurant dumpster or on a vacant lot talking to a scrawny cat. He might be at his regular full-time job as a Residential Instructor at Glenwood mental health facility. Wherever you see him, he is serving the city and leading others to do the same.