We are devastated at the news of Tom Farrell's passing. Most people knew Tom as the Chairman, CEO, and President of Dominion Energy. Many others knew him for his prolific community and philanthropic efforts.
Tom and I met over 20 years ago because he was the childhood friend of my longtime boss, Governor McDonnell. Tom was an instrumental influence on every major policy reform we worked on in the McDonnell Administration, and we became friends over many meetings about how to serve Virginians well. He had an especially big heart for anything related to kids or improving the quality of life or access to opportunity for Virginians.
While none of the above is surprising, few people know that VKB got started thanks to the generosity of Tom and Anne Garland Farrell.
Tom was one of the first people I met with when I decided to start an affiliate of America's Kids Belong in Virginia. His support was crucial both because I respected him, and because I knew if he was on board, many others would join in. Plus, Tom's advice was always priceless and I knew I needed it.
VKB didn't even have a bank account when we met about my plan to help transform kids' lives in Virginia. But that didn't matter. Before I'd gotten to the good stuff, he interrupted me and asked if I had a donor form to give him. (I didn't because it was just a briefing, but I dropped one off in person the next day and headed straight to the bank to open an account.)
He let me finish my presentation that day, then gave me good counsel and words of encouragement on the way out the door.
A few weeks later, I got a check with more zeros than I'd anticipated. I remember holding it in utter disbelief and absolute gratitude. It covered well over half of our first year's expenses. He's matched that gift each year since. Having Tom's support gave this non-profit newbie the confidence I needed to start VKB strong, and the rest is history.
VKB has matched dozens of kids with adoptive families since we started, engaged thousands of Virginians from all walks of life to combat the foster care crisis, and changed the lives of hundreds of kids and families already.
None of that would have happened without Tom's support - both financial and social.
We last spoke in January, and I told him that this year, Virginia's Kids Belong was naming an award after him and 3 other supporters who had helped us launch well. (More details coming on that.) I followed up with a text thanking him for talking and telling him that I couldn't do this without him.
His reply was a simple, "Yes you could." Apparently, he knew then something that I did not. That one day soon, we would need to.
My only comforting thought is that now that he's on the other side of this life, I hope he can see just how much impact he had on so many people's lives. Besides all of his business acumen, he was a model of friendship, loyalty and service.
We send our deep condolences to his loving family, his many friends, and the Dominion Energy team. - Janet Kelly, President, Virginia's Kids Belong