Meet Mark

"Came here to California because I had a relationship with my ex who ended up on drugs so my kids came involved with CPS and I decided to do classes to get them back. Right now I'm here at the shelter trying to find housing, graduated from another one of the classes today. Yeah I just plan on getting them home taking them back to Portland, Oregon where I'm from. Pretty much in a nutshell. 

I'm 47. I've been here about two and a half months. I've got another month here and then I'll try to find another place. I'd like to get my kids and then I'm out of here." 

Q: How old are your kids?

A: "My daughter is 6 years old my son is 4. My son got jokes. He calls me by my first name. And then he'll say I love you Dad. And my daughter is very intelligent, sensitive, beautiful. And she always takes my phone so I have to get her a tablet by the time she comes home. My kids are the love of my life, everything to me." 

"Right now they're with my brother-in-law until I find housing and finish these classes. I just want to focus on getting all the certificates I need and doing what I need to get them back. These classes are really eye-opening. The parenting class is my favorite. I'm learning a lot about their ages, their ups and downs, happiness, it's a blessing.

Once I get my kids back I'm going back to Portland, Oregon, my kids have family on both sides. Can't wait to be a family. I miss them so much. I see them twice a week but only for a short time. I'm not on drugs or anything not drinking, they say it's a couple more weeks and I should have more visitation and as soon as I get a place they can come home on the weekends and then I'll know they can be home for good. The biggest thing is finding housing here." 

Q: Can you work? What kind of job would you like?
A: "I'm thinking about going back to school to be a counselor. Something to give back to these youths out here on drugs and gang-banging and homeless. I've never seen so many youngsters in my life on the streets, on drugs." 

"As soon as I can get out of Visalia I'm out of here. I miss my family in Portland, my kids want to go back to Portland. I've lost quite a few family members recently. My grandmother died - tore my heart up cause I was here, I went to go visit and went to the funeral. Other than missing my family, the Mission is beautiful, the people here are beautiful, and the program is beautiful. But the minute they close my case, I’m out of here with my kids."


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.