Helen Zabielski was a retired Chicago Public School teacher whose pension amounted to all of about $26,000 a year when she died in 2012 at age 93.
Her probate estate finally now closed, PAWS Chicago, (a no kill adoption center) was surprised to learn that Zabielski left them $339,610.
The shelter plans to use the money to help pay for an expansion project that will allow the medical center to triple the number of dogs and cats it treats.
“More abandoned pets getting treatment means more adoptions and fewer animals euthanized at the city pound”, explained Kaitlin Allen at the agency’s development center.
Zabielski was known in the area as someone who care deeply for her own half dozen or so cats and who fed and cared for dozens of feral cats in the neighborhood. Just a few years prior the city tried to have her declared mentally unfit to care for herself and keep the housing building she owned up to code. She ended up donating her building to a non-profit housing developer, which fixed it up with the promise of providing her an apartment for as long as she was able to take care of herself. She never married and had no children.
“The arrangement allowed Zabielski seven more good years of independent living before deteriorating health forced her into a nursing home”, said Andrea Raila, a friend who worked to protect her during her legal troubles with the city.