September 7, 2010 The Express-Times article

Hometown Charity in Need of Help

Founder of Visions of Eagles seeks more donations, causes.

By Tony Nauroth

The Florida man who founded the Visions of Eagles charity serving those in need within the greater Nazareth area returned to his hometown last week to muster support and stoke his passion for the cause.

Thomas Fehnel, 66, a successful computer company owner, has always been a behind-the-scenes motivator.  In fact, he admits he’s more than bashful about coming out to stump for the charity.  Now, however, he sees more of a need “to assist individuals and families across the bridge between despair and hope.”  Fehnel spoke while sitting at his sister Carol Seaton’s kitchen table on Whitfield Street within spitting distance of St. John’s Lutheran Church where Fehnel was baptized and confirmed.  “I am a Christian man,” he said.  “I have been blessed in my business, and those who have been blessed should be sharing their blessings with those in need.”

Seaton is a member of the Visions board of directors, serving as liaison to the Nazareth Area Food Bank, which was the first recipient of the Visions largess.  Fehnel provided the initial financial foundation for the charity whose only criteria is that recipients need help.  Fehnel said that becomes a problem when those in need are either ashamed of their circumstances or in some other way embarrassed if they must take charity.  “They need to break through that shield of resistance and pride and step forward,” he said.

Raising his public profile 

Fehnel continues to give as much as he can, he said, although now that Visions of Eagles is recognized by the state of Pennsylvania as a bona fide not-for-profit corporation, he is no longer permitted to give as much as he had.  At the moment the charity has about $36,000 available to tap into.  That is why he is raising his public profile to use the skills he learned in building his business to now build the charity.  “My passion is integral to keeping people motivated,” he said.  “I just don’t want to see this perpetuated.  I want to see it grow.”

 Fehnel is also starting similar charities near his Florida home in Winter Springs.  Originally from Lower Nazareth Township, Fehnel returned to Nazareth to attend the 45th reunion of the Class of 1962.  He was asked to become a member of the planning committee for the 50th reunion, which would include invitations for the families of class members.  “I provided the funds for that,” Fehnel said.  “Then one committee member showed us a newspaper article about a local needy family.  He asked, “Can we use some of your fund to support them?”  I was overcome with graciousness,” he said.

The beginnings of Visions

From that experience, Fehnel returned to Florida, mulled over what had happened “and decided to start a charity to support my roots.”  He said the idea for the name came from a vision he imagined of “an eagle hovering over Nazareth seeking out needs.”  The first recipient of the charity was the Nazareth Area Food Bank, which used $5,000 to buy refrigerator/freezer units to store more fresh foods for its clients.  Jim Byrnes, who works closely with the food bank said of Fehnel, “He’s the spark behind Visions of Eagles and its main financier, but now he’s looking for donations.”  Fehnel said the charity will soon launch two websites to suppot its mission: and