Billy's Story

I currently live in Riverside County. I own a home with my wife and two kids. We adopted one and we have one biological child. I relapsed and it was too much for my wife to deal again.

I don’t like what’s happening with my wife. She writing to me and expressing her feelings, which really hurts. She’s been getting help to stand up to me. It’s not that I was overbearing, but as a addict, we’re manipulators. I always weaseled my way home. But with that said, I found myself homeless. 

I was either going to drive myself into the ground or survive. My wife was talking about getting a restraining order, which scared me because I would have broken the restraining order if I stayed there. So I did what was best for both of us at the time, and I left. But by leaving, I had hardly any money left and I drove until I was nearly out of gas. I drove until Tipton, then found myself in Porterville applying for food stamps for the first time in my life. At 51, I was applying for food stamps — it was a pride blow. Unfortunately, Porterville didn’t have the resources to help me, then I heard about Visalia Rescue Mission and I had enough fuel to get here. 

Visalia is a loving town. I understand you guys have a lot of homeless people, and I’ve never found myself in this kind of situation before. I use to go to church and we helped the homeless. 

I came to the mission and right away I noticed that it was clean. The beds were nice. Everyone’s been so nice to me since I got here. I found a People Ready (a place that finds day jobs for people) and they found me a job right away. I have a trade, my trade is plumbing, and they found me a job in Fresno that pays $28 an hour. I drove to Fresno, spent the night In my truck, but they weren’t ready for me for another week, so I asked the People Ready in Fresno to find me some work for a week. They said they didn’t have anything in what I do, but they could find me something that pays by the week rather than by the day. 

They told me about a job with Fresno Plumbing. I called and told them, “I’m a service technician, I have certifications and I’m bonded, have all my tools and I’m ready to work.” I filled out the application, went in to interview — I cried in the interview. They said I was a basket case. And I was. To describe me emotionally, I was a cup dropped and shattered in a million pieces. The owner was in the interview, and they asked me to step out so they could talk. They weren’t going to hire me, but the owner said, “Something’s telling me to hire you.” They said they’ll hire me at $12 anhour. I just left a possible job at $28 an hour, but I sat back and I said, “Lord, you know what, I have nothing to lose.” So, I took the job working in the shop. That boss came to my truck every morning for the first three days and encouraged me. I work for a Christian company, I have a Christian boss. God puts you in the right place at the right time.

They just told me yesterday that they’re going to put me in a truck in the next two weeks and that comes with a boost in pay. I am currently looking at housing, I should be getting my own apartment next week with this next paycheck. It’s been a hard road emotionally, but not help wise. The assistance that Visalia Rescue Mission gave me, allowed me to get to this job in Fresno.

I forgot to tell you the most important part. There’s a woman here at Visalia Rescue Mission named Gavie (VRM Case Manager). She has such a huge heart. She made me feel like I could make it because I didn’t know anything about what I was doing or where I was going, what was going on in my life, about the status of my marriage. My wife is going forward with a divorce. But you know the song, All is Well with My Soul? I will make it. I learned a vital lesson the hard way. 

I’m going to Cornerstone Church in Fresno. My boss gave me paper work for this place the Wellness Center that does counseling and marriage counseling. I told them that I can’t afford it and they found someone who will help me pro bono. God is working in my life. Even though it might be too late for some areas of my life, but nothing is too late for God. I hate methamphetamine for what it did to me. But sometimes you have to travel this road. Unfortunately, that’s the path I took.

What would you say to someone that’s going through something similar to you?

If they’re a Christian like me, I’d say we serve an awesome God. His ways are not ours. Just because we can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel doesn’t mean there’s not alight at the other side.

My 12 year old doesn’t want to talk to me right now. My 8 year old talks to me every day. He calls me everyday. He’s having a hard time with this. He’s getting in trouble at school. I damaged my family more than I could have imagined. I tell them every day that I love them, but now it’s about action not about words. This place changed my life. All I saw was darkness, I had nothing left, but this place gave me an overwhelming sense that I could do it.

I’ve been leaning on God and seeking Him like I’ve never done before. I used to try to do it on my own, and I always fell on my face. With God all things are possible and I’m banking on that.


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.