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HesperiaStar.com
  • Revered director of local rescue mission ready to minister in Las Vegas

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  • VICTORVILLE — After leading one of the largest nonprofit groups in the High Desert, Ron Wilson has announced his departure from his post as director of the Victor Valley Rescue Mission
    After almost seven years at the Victorville mission, which serves nearly 80,000 meals and hands out close to 100,000 pieces of clothing a year, Wilson and his family are moving to Las Vegas.
    On Thursday, Wilson broke the news during a special “Thanks for Giving” dinner at New Life Chapel, where he also serves as assistant pastor.
    “I preached my last sermon last week and the church prayed over us,” said Wilson, 48. “This decision came after a couple of years of prayer, fasting and the leading of the Holy Spirit.”
    Wilson said his wife, Cari, who serves as New Life’s children’s director, and their children Justus, 14, and Ashalyn, 10, will move from their Spring Valley Lake home as Wilson takes over as lead pastor at Grapevine Fellowship, about five miles northeast of Nellis Air Force Base.
    “I got married late in life and we’ve both served in separate ministries for most of the time, which means time away from each other,” Wilson said. “We’ve been praying about the perfect fit where we could be together. I used to pastor a church, so this is like going home again.”
    Wilson, a 2013 Daily Press Person of the Year finalist, leaves behind a behemoth of a ministry, which has partnered with many groups, businesses, churches and individuals to help those in need.
    During the appreciation dinner for sponsors, volunteers, contributors and staff of the VVRM, Wilson thanked those who took an organization from the minor to the major leagues.
    Representatives from the offices of First District Supervisor Robert Lovingood, Assemblyman Tim Donnelly and the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department Homeless Outreach Proactive Enforcement program were on hand to deliver proclamations and to thank Wilson.
    “Everything we do is because of a great staff, wonderful volunteers and a community that really cares,” Wilson said. “Last year, we recorded 70,000 volunteer hours. These are people that have a heart to help.”
    Wilson said his biggest challenge and joy as director was when he arrived and found that the mission needed a bit of restoring.
    “The mission was in the red and its reputation needed a positive overhaul,” Wilson said. “We had trailers out in El Mirage for men in recovery. The trailers were beat up, the septic system was uncovered and it was Flea Town USA.”
    Wilson credited God for bringing an army of individuals who not only prayed, but rolled up their sleeves and went to work building a ministry that earned the respect of the homeless, business and government leaders.
    Besides the mission’s nine-month recovery program that sees an 84 percent positive exit result, the mission hands out nearly 2,000 gifts to children during its annual Christmas Toy Giveaway in December.
    The VVRM has done ongoing food and clothing outreaches, and its 14,000-square-foot Super Thrift Store was less than $265 from hitting $1 million.
    During the mission’s annual Thanksgiving Banquet and Turkey Basket Giveaway, the mission and a group of students from Victor Valley High School join forces with other members in the community to serve nearly 2,000 dinners and hand out 150 food baskets on the school’s campus.
    Wilson said he’d like to see the VVRM accomplish its goal of making the “Bridge to Hope” multibuilding facility project a reality.
    The project, designed to house men, women and families, would sit on 16.2 acres off Stoddard Wells Road near Highway 18. The project includes a large kitchen, classrooms, a gym, sports fields, conference room and the mission's administrative offices.
    Before the dinner, Veronica Trujillo, community relations director for the VVRM, said she and the staff are excited for Wilson, his family and the Las Vegas church.
    “We are going to miss him immensely,” Trujillo said. “Ron is the kind of guy who includes everybody in the decision process. He could easily call all the shots, but he knows that God has gifted people with different gifts and talents, and Ron knows how to allow people to move in those giftings.”
    Wilson said he’s received many “confirmation moments” that gave him the confidence that he’s moving in the right direction.
    “When we recently visited the Las Vegas church, my wife met a group of kids that she knew from kids camp,” said Wilson, in an interview before the dinner. “Then we were at Circus Circus’s amusement park area when someone recognized me from the rescue mission. All the way out in Vegas and we’re known by other people. It was a welcoming feeling.”
    Wilson said the Rescue Mission Alliance will help in the selection of his replacement.
    “I’m sure they’ll find someone who is a lot smarter and more energetic than me, but I doubt if they’ll be more handsome,” Wilson joked. “It’s been a huge blessing and I know that God will continue to take care of this ministry.”
    Rene Ray De La Cruz may be reached at 760-951-6227, RDeLa Cruz@VVDailyPress.com or on Twitter @DP_ReneDeLaCruz.
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