WAUSAU – After nearly two decades as executive director of The Neighbors’ Place, Tom Rau will retire.

Rau came to The Neighbors’ Place in 2001. In his time with the organization, he has overseen an expansion of services and programs while maintaining a focus on The Neighbors’ Place’s primary mission: People helping people.

Among the changes in his tenure, according to The Neighbors’ Place:

• The creation in 2008 of Wausau’s Empty Bowls fundraiser. Now in its 11th year, the annual soup and art event allows thousands of people to show their support for the fight against hunger.
• Retirement of the mortgage on The Neighbors’ Place’s office at 745 Scott St. in Wausau.
• A major renovation of the building, including expanded food pantry space and the addition of a walk-in refrigerator and freezer.
• Creation of a partnership with the Marathon County Hunger Coalition, an alliance of local food pantries for which The Neighbors’ Place serves as a food bank, storing and distributing food to more than 20 pantries throughout the county.
• Creation of our Wheels Again program, which provides refurbished bicycles to those who need them as transportation to work.

“It has been my honor to work with a team of dedicated, caring people at The Neighbors’ Place through these years,” Rau said in a news release. “I’m proud of the work we’ve done to help those who need it in our community, and of the fact that one of our guiding principles is to always treat the people we serve with dignity and respect.”

Rau will retire at the end of 2019. His wife, Marcy Rau, longtime director of The Neighbors’ Place’s community learning center, will retire at the same time. Youth program director Joan Bouldin will also retire this year.

The Neighbors’ Place will seek job candidates for executive director and other job openings in coming months.

“Tom Rau showed every day how much he cared for The Neighbors’ Place’s clients,” said Lisa O’Flyng, board president of The Neighbors’ Place. “His leadership of the organization always kept the people we serve front and center. We are so grateful to him for his career here, and wish him and Marcy all the best in their retirement.”