Meet Angela: VRM Women's Shelter Manager

Since I can remember, I’ve always felt worthless. I convinced myself that I was unworthy and that I wouldn’t amount to anything. I first started drinking and using when I was 12. At 17, I took my first line of meth and I didn’t change until I was 30.

I came to the Mission because I lost my kids to CWS. I just kept repeating using and they told me “test clean, test clean”, but I couldn’t do it. So CWS came and raided my house and took away my kids. As I watched them take away my kids, my kids were screaming and screaming for me but I had no emotions –none whatsoever. I couldn’t cry, knew I was supposed to cry, but couldn’t cry because I was so high.

The hardest part of working at the shelter, is when they just can’t quit. They keep choosing to go back to the life they're living, repeating and repeating until they hit rock bottom and lose their kids or end up in jail. It’s the worst when you see the little kids’ faces because we know it’s not their fault. It’s the hardest to see because I’ve been there; it makes me sad because it reminds me of me. My rock bottom was when CWS took my kids away. I threw the Christmas tree out in the front yard because they took my kids a week before Christmas. But I wasn’t the right mom.

What I feel like the women need the most is encouragement. Tell them that Jesus loves them and that we love them. That here’s hope. Just building them up, when there’s no one else in their life that will. When I was in the program, one of the coordinators told me, ‘remember you are the daughter of the Most High King”, so act like it. You are a princess and you are loved.’ I try to tell the ladies that. 

When one of ladies come back or give me a call to tell me how good they're doing, that makes all the hard days worth it. When they tell me that they got their place, or show up in a new car because they got a job or they're going to school and when they have their kids in the car with them, just that one makes it all worth it.

I have my kids back now. It’s the best feeling, seeing their smiles, feeling emotions again, I still think that’s the best feeling, after not feeling anything – even though it hurts me. I’ve learned that all of us can change. Through Jesus Christ we can be restored and renewed. And just seeing that happen in one person makes all the difference for me.

Ryan Stillwater

Ryan is a longtime Visalian — a graduate of Redwood High School and Fresno Pacific University with a bachelors degree in Christian Ministries. Intrigued by the partnership between the Visalia Rescue Mission and the City of Visalia, Ryan began putting his vision on paper as VRM's Oval Venue Coordinator in August 2013, and has sparked the interest of many throughout the community. Ryan and his wife Amy (a Mt. Whitney High School graduate) have been married for seven years and have three amazing kids — ages 6, 4, and 4.