Meet Doug

"I was heavily addicted to meth and extremely depressed. I attempted suicide on the grass right there in front of the Kitchen. When I found out that this was a faith-based program I was wary at first because I’ve never been to church, my family was never spiritual at all. Then I saw the guys around here and everyone’s walking around with a smile on their face. I mentioned this in my graduation video, but I wanted what they had because I couldn’t remember the last time I had that. I came in with the intent of faking it to make it, but that didn’t work out - it only lasted maybe a day. But I did find the Lord and little by little good things started happening in my life. I had my ups and downs, what should have been an 8-month program turned out to be a year. 

But since I’ve completed the program, I’ll have 14 months sobriety. There’s no temptation at all. I have no desire to use, to drink or anything. 

I’ve gotten a job, reestablished contact with my daughter from over a year and a half ago. She’s 12 years old. She’s back in my life. I mean, all of this is happening within 2 months and it just keeps getting better and better. I’m happy."

Q: How did it feel to tell her [your daughter] you have a job?
A: It feels good to tell any body I have a job. But I told her the reason why I didn't keep in contact with her was that I didn’t want her to see what I was going through. She understands. And I’ll hopefully get to see her soon.

"It was hard to find a job. I put in at least 25-30 applications before I got this job."

Q: What do you think employers judged or assumed about an application like yours?
A: My biggest thing is that that’s my past. It doesn’t look good on paper, but you can’t judge me for my past 'cause I don’t live there anymore.

"I feel blessed with this job and things are going well but life can throw you a curveball at any time, anything can happen, but I know with the tools I’ve learned here that I can better deal with it then I have in the past."

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.