Long time executive director retiring from The Neighbors' Place

Published: Nov. 29, 2019 at 9:23 PM CST
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"I was just going through and turning out the lights and locking up and I got a little tear in my eye," says Tom Rau thinking about a recent walk through the building after a board meeting.

Now, the Executive Director of The Neighbors' Place foot pantry is riding off into the retirement sunset.

In 2001, Tom actually answered a help wanted add for a part time position.

"I applied for it and I thought I had a really good interview. And I waited and I waited and I waited and I didn't hear anything. And it must have been four to six weeks later and all of a sudden I got a call and they said, would you be interested in being the executive director."

The place has grown a lot since he took over. And through up and down economies, the need has always been there. Right now, about 80-families a day get help from The Neighbors' Place.

In 18-years of helping people, Tom says one donation still stands out. A couple convinced their grade school aged children to make a donation to the food pantry made of stuff picked from their own cupboard.

"They got all the food in the house that they didn't like and that's what they put out and the parents took one look at it and they said maybe we weren't clear enough to you. We are making a gift to The Neighbors' Place to help people."

Tom says the kids turned around and grabbed the stuff they did like and learn a valuable lesson about giving, "those kids are going to remember that lesson the rest of their life."

Tom says he most looks forward in retirement to longer, more relaxed cups of coffee in the morning.