On May 1st, Michael and the OHM Staff welcomed Tim Raufer as the organization’s full time Construction Coordinator. After 6 weeks on the job, Liberty got the chance to sit down and Tim and found out a little bit more of what brought him to OHM.
What is your professional background? I studied civil engineering at the University of Pittsburgh and, after graduation, started working for a home inspector I had met through Bellefield Church. He is retired now, in a house that he and I built together over the course of my 2 year apprenticeship. I went on to buy his inspection company, and with my wife Stephanie, ran it for almost 7 years, before selling to one of our newer employees. So I come from a consulting, small business, inspecting, and new-construction background. My own house in East Liberty is a constant source of remodeling work, for myself and my contractor friends.
What’s your history with Open Hand? Starting around 2008, I consulted for OHM inspecting prospective properties. During a walkthrough of OHM’s project at 423 N. Fairmont, Michael pointed out 2 chimneys that needed complete re-building. I suggested a high-efficiency water heater and high-efficiency boiler as an alternative, which would eliminate the need for the chimneys, and allow their total removal. That conversation drew me in. Michael was immediately taken with the idea and it had huge impact; he wanted the most efficiency for the family while finding ways to simplify and reduce costs. So I spent a lot of time at N Fairmont and again on subsequent projects. I sat on OHM’s Board of Directors from 2010-2012, working to create a construction committee, to organize workday leadership, and to streamline OHM’s project management practices – incidentally planting the seeds of what my current position has been called to officially address.
What are you working on now?
Finishing the N. Beatty Street property, which should be completed by summer’s end. We are working on preliminary scheduling and budgeting for our next property, so we can begin work in the fall. We’re also working on a long-term maintenance and improvement plan for OHM’s transitional rental properties.
What’s one thing that excites you most about your position with OHM? Getting volunteers and professionals connected with opportunities to serve. Through college and post-college was I spent a lot of time working with and leading volunteers. I was the volunteer coordinator for Pitt’s Campus Chapter of Habitat for Humanity, recruiting student volunteers weekly. After graduating, I spent six years helping lead Habitat’s spring break trips and workdays. That kept me involved with the student group throughout the year, and allowed me to to introduce a number of enthusiastic Pitt students to OHM. I also spent two summers and many weekends working for The Pittsburgh Project, which provides free home repair services to elderly homeowners in the city.
There are two new-construction houses getting built down the street from OHM’s current project. Sometimes I miss that busy pace of new-construction, but not as much as I relish the opportunity to build relationships among lay volunteers, homeowners, and supporters of the ministry. That was the big draw for me.
Why be involved in this type of work, instead of continuing as an inspector or contractor? I always liked to build, but was also interested in relationships and the social implications of buildings. Almost every term during engineering school, I wrestled with switching to architecture or the humanities.
I liked doing home inspections and consulting, but more than just identifying problems in a house, what I was missing was the chance to repair, remodel, troubleshoot, and implement solutions. With OHM I get to be part of a holistic process, beginning to end – and that is what I’ve been yearning for.
What’s your faith background?
I grew up Catholic in New Jersey. My family lived a block away from the church—we could see it and hear the bells. I spent a lot of time there as a kid. I went to a Catholic high school (Bishop Eustace Prep!) whose curriculum had a huge emphasis on service learning: works of charity and works of mercy.
In college I attended the Open Door Church and got to know (board member) Rev. BJ Woodworth. My family currently attends the Church of the Ascension, an Anglican church.
Tell us about your family. My wife Stephanie and I live at the edge of East Liberty, near Friendship. My wife is working through nursing school, showing the toddlers what it means to be a model student. We have two boys, Attison (3) and Dennis (2). You can sometimes find the boys visiting OHM sites, piling up 2×4 blocks and playing in the dirt (they love dirt). Sometimes they even bring along our dog, Jenny.