Charles E. "Chuck" Wolfe decided to get his money where his mouth used to be.

Charles E. "Chuck" Wolfe decided to get his money where his mouth used to be.

Now the executive director of the Cat Welfare Association on Wetmore Road in Clintonville, the longtime Northland resident previously ran his own consulting business that sought to help nonprofit organizations fulfill their missions.

Wolfe, vice president of the Northland Area Business Association and chairman of the Northland Community Council's education committee, said that it was the death of his wife, and the period of introspection that followed, which led him to decide to return full-time to running a nonprofit.

Antoinette "Toni" Wolfe died on Aug. 10, 2009. She had been an elementary school teacher and gifted specialist with Columbus City Schools for 20 years.

The comfort he derived from his cat after her death, Wolfe said, also made the 66-year-old no-kill shelter for felines the perfect fit for him.

Wolfe, who came to central Ohio from Baltimore in about 1979, spent nearly two decades working in various capacities for the Boy Scouts of America. Part of that time was spent in Germany.

Wolfe said that he has also been executive director of other nonprofits.

Toni and Chuck Wolfe came to Columbus with a much-loved cat, which lived to be 19 years old. The cat died in 2002, Wolfe said, and he and his wife waited for two years before deciding to get another one.

They tried various shelters before stopping at the Cat Welfare Association, which was "founded in 1945 by a small group of people who saw the need for an organization designed specifically to help the many stray and abused cats in the Columbus area," according to the website.

"I was impressed with the way I was treated," Wolfe recalled.

They brought home Allie, a tabby who now weighs 15 pounds.

"She's a very affectionate cat," Wolfe said.

That affection, he added, aided him greatly in the days and weeks that followed the death of his wife.

"Cats are more than just an animal that hangs around the house," Wolfe said.

In between the decision to return to the nonprofit sector, and while still running his Wolfe Consulting Associates limited liability corporation, Wolfe accepted the part-time contract position of impact program manager for the League of Women Voters of Ohio.

Wolfe said that learned about the open executive director position at the Cat Welfare Association almost a year ago, and contacted some of the board members.

He finally assumed the top job in the organization earlier this year.

"I do love cats, so it all kind of meshed together," Wolfe said.

The sheer volume of stray cats in central Ohio has come as something of a surprise to Wolfe.

"I wasn't really aware of how many there were," he said.

Wolfe added that he has been pleasantly surprised at the generosity of volunteers donating cat food, cat litter and, almost as important, paper towels to help keep the rambling shelter, with its attached "Catique" thrift store, operating.

The thrift store provides about $45,000 a year toward running the organization, the executive director said.

Located at the south end of the 741 Wetmore Road facility, Catique is open Saturdays between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

The major challenge Cat Welfare faces, according to Wolfe, is how to address the capacity issue.

"We could take 1,000 cats if we had the facility," he said, and even then not come close to being able to house all the stray cats.

Cat Welfare is primarily for strays, not pets people want to give up, although Wolfe said that shelter employees at times find such animals left at the front door.

The existing facility has an "optimal capacity" of 275 cats, Wolfe said.

Almost from the inception, the Cat Welfare Association has been a major proponent of spaying and neutering to help keep down the population of feral cats. The association has a program to provide assistance for low-income people who find it hard to afford having their cats spayed or neutered, the executive director pointed out.

"It was always a cornerstone of this organization," Wolfe said.

Having been on the consulting end of the nonprofit world, Wolfe said that he's happy to have made the transition back to being on the inside.

"It's been enjoyable working with all the generous people," he said. "We have an excellent staff. It's enjoyable working with the volunteers."