Meet Desiree

"Before the Mission I got into some trouble, I got felony charges for grand theft auto. I knew I had an addiction. I knew I needed help and it was something more than I could handle myself. When i was in jail, I finally opened the Bible and ask God to help me and guide me. I met this lady in jail and I stuck by her side because she was a real godly woman and an inspiration to me. I began to write letters to programs everywhere and the House of Hope was the first on to come get me.

Once I began to walk with the Lord I began to feel this big whole in my soul just be filled. I began to feel alive and to make my amends and figure out what my deepest issues were. God’s been restoring my life and my relationships with everyone - my kids are in my life today. I wouldn't have been able to do that without God in my life."

Q: What’s your favorite class you’ve taken so far?
A: Keep Your Love On. It’s about your 5 Love Languages. How to give and receive love and find that balance with someone. Love for me is a big thing. In this class, I finally learned how to love who I am and accept who I am. And that’s something I’ve never done before. I’ve got so much joy & peace now.

"I really struggled when I lost my niece. I had just started walking with the Lord and I had this new relationship with Him, but I had to step away the day I got the call about my niece and ask myself if I was starting to doubt God. Asking Him why? But my favorite verse that really helped me was Proverbs 3:5-6 [“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”]. That’s what stuck with me and helped me - to keep trusting Him and to put my faith in Him because He’s not going to let me down. He’s always going to be there for me. So I struggled with losing my niece and I didn’t think I could get through that, but I kept all my hope in God. I was able to reach out to my brother and try to help him. I had the right words to say that I wouldn't have been able to say before, when I was in my addiction. I would have just tried to cope by numbing myself and never work through it, but you can only stay numb for so long. But that’s not who I am anymore. I’m a whole new person. Just open your heart and give God a chance. He’s always going to be there for you, just waiting for you to call onto Him."

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.