Meet Noelle

Before I got here I lost my apartment due to a slumlord. The situation with the slumlord was just a mess. I’m freaking out about losing my home but this guy wanted things that I wasn’t willing to do. Just the emptiness and the brokenness of it all. And I just knew I had to leave.

This was a sign for sure for me, I had stopped by the CSET Work office on the westside, and this woman had seen me walking with my daughter and she offered to drive us to the shelter. I actually lied to her, I had no intention of coming to the shelter even though that’s what I told her I was going to do. But I didn’t realize that this woman genuinely cared about me and didn’t want us to walk all the way here to the shelter. So she drove us here and gave me $12. She said I’m sorry this is all I have but I just want you to have something. She gave me $12 and dropped us off here and then I met Angela [Shelter of Hope Manager]. 

I was so scared to come to the Shelter of Hope, I didn’t know what to expect. This was my first time being in a shelter. I considered this my rock bottom, but this place made me whole. It was that grasp of life that I just so desperately needed.

My head was just mixed up and messed up. I had no drug abuse, but I was abused. I was in an abusive relationship with my kids’ dad, it was very unhealthy. Coming to the Shelter of Hope was my first step to overcoming what I couldn't overcome on my own.

I have a profound deaf, 3-year old, beautiful stubborn son. He doesn’t hear. He’s perfectly normal, but he just doesn't hear. That inspired me to become a sign language interpreter — as well as my aunt. She has a deaf son too, my cousin. He has same thing, profound — can’t hear anything. She actually used to work for the welfare office, and then decided to just quit, go to school and become an interpreter. I always admired that about her because there are so many families in Tulare County of deaf children or parents who just don’t care to learn the language. I was just always inspired by that and, of course, my son being deaf, I said ‘he’s going to need me’. He inspired to want to want to communicate, to do better and have better. I’m a full time student now at COS, I’m trying to get my AA Degree in Sign Interpreting and then transfer to Fresno State to get my Bachelors. So that’s where we’re at. 

I have a new apartment, have a new car. I got Section 8 and I’m trying to get signed up for the program to build your own home. And I just learned that my Section 8 will transfer to my house payment, so the sooner the better. It’s about time, thank you Jesus. 

Staff Note: “I met Noelle on April 19, 2016. The day I met her she seemed nervous, upset and she had never been in a shelter before. I assured her it was going to be fine and introduced her to some of the ladies. When Noelle came, she was dealing with a landlord that wanted something other than money from her. She was also dealing with an abusive boyfriend and father of the children. After she had stayed at Shelter of Hope, she came back and was so happy telling me about her school and when she will graduate and about her apartment. She is going to school to be a sign language interpreter; her son is deaf so she was inspired to learn. She loves what God has done for her.” - Angela Phillips, Shelter of Hope Manager


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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.