New Year's Foundation

The other day, I went to visit a friend’s son in the hospital. This person’s very serious alcohol addiction was producing painful, hallucinating withdrawals and they went to the Emergency Room. While we discussed potential next steps, they were still — in spite of the current environment — not seeing clearly, “I don’t need a longterm program. I’m not that bad.” I just looked around the hospital room. They suddenly saw their situation from my perspective, “Well,” they said. “Maybe I am.”

Someone once told me that humility isn’t talking about yourself less — humility is just an accurate account of your strengths and weaknesses. It’s easy to get frustrated with friends and family wrestling through addiction. What’s hard is remembering that we are all susceptible to blindness regarding our own weaknesses. The determination to see and acknowledge you’ve got problems you can’t solve on your own is one of the most difficult, humble, and yet healthy things you can do.

When Adam, one of our Life Change Academy graduates, first came to VRM, he had been in the hospital after a mental breakdown. He was shoeless, miserable, and didn’t know where else to go. After a week in our overnight shelter, he was admitted into our Life Change Academy. Now on staff, Adam is one of our case managers who help people who come to us just like he did. For Adam — and many like him — he didn’t just hit rock bottom here. He landed on a new foundation.

You may have noticed a number of changes at Visalia Rescue Mission over the past couple years — from the senior leadership team, to our fundraisers, to the VRM mail in your mailbox — we are a new organization in so many ways. As we enter 2018, we are excited to share our New Year’s resolutions — or better yet — the ways we’re building a new foundation as an organization. 

  1. Staff Training — Over the next few months, our staff will be receiving various trainings to enhance our ability to serve our guests and each other. A business is only as good as the people it employs, and we’ve got some amazing people. Now, it’s time to provide them with the tools they need for even greater success.
  2. Vocational Training — Our Community Center on Santa Fe St. houses our administration and development departments, as well as a portion of our ministry team. The second floor is yet to be completed, but holds the key to a long overdue asset, a primary hub for vocational training for our guests and residents. With a cost of approximately $350,000, we are 17% ($60,000) of our way there and will begin to make progress as the funds become available, rather than with additional loans. Once completed, this “Restoration Room” upstairs will serve to empower men and women with skills they need to be self-sufficient and successful once they move back into the mainstream.
  3. Three Phase Principle — We will be retooling our services into three categories: RESCUE • RECOVERY • RESTORATION. The circumstances which bring individuals here for a meal, a shelter bed, or our Academy for 12 months are so incredibly diverse. For example, a man may come to us for a meal, not have a drug addiction, but does not have specific job skills or work experience. He lost his job and is on the verge of homelessness. His needs are very different from a woman who has lost custody of her children, does have a drug addiction, and needs to commit to the restoration process our Academy offers.

As we begin this 37th year as an organization, we are looking forward to creating a solid foundation in these areas so that we can thrive for the decades to come. Thank you for joining us on this journey.


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.