New Habitat for Humanity director revels in freedom to express, share Christian faith at work

Cami Aufdermauer at the Tillamook Habitat for Humanity office and ReStore in Bay City. (Photo by LeeAnn Neal) Tap to enlarge

BAY CITY, Ore. – For the first time in her career, Cami Aufdermauer feels free to incorporate her Christian faith into her job.

“It’s like being let out of a box,” said Aufdermauer, who recently stepped into the role of executive director of Tillamook Habitat for Humanity, part of Habitat for Humanity International, a nonprofit Christian housing ministry.

“I come from a social services background.” However, working in a government arena meant she had to abide by the separation of church and state. “This allows me to show my faith. I’m very bold in my faith, but at work I wasn’t able to be that way. It’s really great to be able to sit with people and be who I am. And every day when I show up at work, I pray about whatever is on my heart.”

A fourth-generation Tillamook resident, Aufdermauer’s father Randy Schild is superintendent of Tillamook School District 9, while grandfather Harold Schild, now retired, was longtime CEO of the Tillamook County Creamery Association.

Several years ago, she married former classmate Justin Aufdermauer, executive director of the Tillamook Area Chamber of Commerce. “We graduated together and were best friends,” she said, noting that they decided to raise their two girls, ages 5 and 6, in Tillamook for the quality of life and family connections as well the access to their church, the Tillamook Christian Center.

Aufdermauer said the Habitat for Humanity mission – “A world where everyone has a decent place to live. Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope,” – is what drew her to the job.

Cami Aufdermauer at the Tillamook Habitat for Humanity office and ReStore in Bay City. (Photo by LeeAnn Neal) Tap to enlarge

She said it is the following Habitat mission principle in particular that inspires her:

“We undertake our work to demonstrate the love and teachings of Jesus, acting in all ways in accord with the belief that God’s love and grace abound for all, and that we must be ‘hands and feet’ of that love and grace in our world.”

“This is why I’m here,” said Aufdermauer. While considering whether or not to apply for the position, “I was in my rocking chair and I read this and started crying. I decided, ‘I’m going to show God’s love and I’m going to do it by building houses for people who need them.’”

Habitat’s process of providing homes for families involves supporting families in building homes and then providing interest-free financing. The organization makes no money on the sales, focusing instead on keeping mortgages affordable. “We are the bridge for those who can’t qualify for a conventional loan but make too much for assistance,” said Aufdermauer. Successful home applicants must be employed for a year before approval, she said, adding, “We screen very carefully. Our history of timely mortgage payments is very good.”

Aufdermauer said the Habitat Board of Directors and staff are eager to help with countywide housing solutions and noted that she is a member of the Tillamook County Housing Task Force. “We want Habitat to be part of the solution,” she said.

In addition to accepting cash and construction materials donations, Habitat enlists volunteers to help with construction. “We want to involve the community building homes,” said Aufdermauer.

Cami Aufdermauer at the Tillamook Habitat for Humanity office and ReStore in Bay City. (Photo by LeeAnn Neal) Tap to enlarge

The group also needs volunteers to help sort donations and work the cash register at the ReStore, which shares space with Habitat offices in Bay City. Volunteers may have construction experience, but can also be trained. “With volunteers, I say, ‘What do you like to do?’” said Aufdermauer.

The ReStore accepts donations of furniture, hardware and other items. “Basically if you can use it in building a home, or you can put it in a home, we can use it,” said Aufdermauer. “We even pick up donations countywide on Tuesdays.”

Aufdermauer said she feels blessed that her new job allows her to interact with so many people, including Board members, staff, volunteers, families in need of housing, ReStore customers and others. “I really believe that God has given me the gift of encouragement,” she said. “I see people as not just people, but God’s creations. It’s important to believe in people. And whether or not they identify as a Christian, people can feel love.”

For more information, contact Tillamook Habitat for Humanity at 503-377-0204. Keep up with announcements and available merchandise at the ReStore on Facebook.