Meet Danny

"I came here in 2000. The Mission has been here to help out and every time I needed a hand up they've been right there to give me a helping hand. This time around I'm getting more rooted. Everybody needs money to stand on your own two feet. I finally got to the age where I can retire and be able bring a little money to look for somewhere to pay rent and be able to buy food and clothes. Live like a human being again. And I've got the Mission to thank for that. If they hadn't given me a helping hand, I wouldn't be here. It would be all different."

Q: What's brought you back off and on over the past 15 years?
A: "Well, it's going in and out of prison. When things got really bad, got hungry, turned to stealing and it was all wrong. I'm not proud of it but at the same time it got me back in prison. It put me right back in there. And I swore this time, while I was in prison, I'm too old for this game. I gotta make a better choice. I gotta do things that uplift. Do things that are right. I don't want to go back. I'm staying out."

Q: Have you thought about doing our program here? 
A: "I filled out an application. Yeah, they had one question on there I couldn't answer, it was: what do you see when you look into a mirror? And the only thing I could think of was: lost and broken. And I never filled it in - I just left it blank." 

"I believe in hard work. I believe in reading the Bible. But my reading is real bad. I'm enrolled in the literacy program here in town so I can learn how to read. And I'm also taking a computer class so I can you learn how to operate a computer. And I've got a therapist that checks in with me: What kind of choices are you making Mr. Riggs? What are you doing these days Mr. Riggs? Are you just doing wasting your days or are you doing something? And I'm proud to say that I'm doing things."

Q: How did you get to Visalia? 
A: "I drove down from Washington to do a job but I found out that the wiring was substandard and they were cutting corners on a lot of things and I wouldn't sign my name to it. And I walked away. The car blew up and I got stuck here. And I've been looking for other work. I'm a good diesel mechanic, electrician, I've got some skills. You just need a driver's license and a car because you go where the work is."

"My parole officer turned around and said what have you done for yourself? What are you doing to better yourself? And I pulled out my social security card, my medical card,I have an ID. I worked for it, I got it. I am looking. I'm out there trying to get things going. I wanted to show him that I wasn't sitting idle, that I was looking. I have a career coach at Employment Connection. I'm in the job squad looking for work. Even though I'm on retirement, I'm not going to sit still. I'm afraid I'm still too young. I want an assembly job so bad. Just sit and put things together everyday, doing the same thing over and over, and I'd be a happy camper."

Q: At 62, is there anything you regret not doing?
A:  "Having a family. As I'm getting into the older ages, I really screwed up. I could have had someone beside me to share the load and enjoy life."

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.