Be The Change – John W. Tillery: A Life Of Service

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Occasionally a person comes along whom others, without fail, describe with only the highest of complements. John W. Tillery, Executive Director of Remi Vista, Inc., is such a man. Mr. Lyle Faudree, one of the founders of Remi Vista says, “You’ll hear a lot of superlatives about John. He lives with the greatest of integrity. He always does what’s right and always strives for excellence.”

John knows that he has been placed on earth for a purpose. “I live my life to honor God,” he reveals. “My life’s purpose is to serve  youth and families.” For the past 40 years, this has been his mission.

In 1970, while attending California State University, Chico, John met Sandie Anderson, his wife to be. Sandie’s father taught at Remi Vista, which had been founded in Whitmore, CA, in 1969. “It was a cattle ranch that served as a group home for 12 North State boys,” he states. On weekends, John and Sandie drove up to the ranch where they interacted with the boys. “I loved it,” he recalls. “Sandie and I felt very drawn to the boys. We decided that serving children who had been abused, neglected and marginalized was what we wanted to do with our lives.”

art-0414-btc2Although that was their intention, it didn’t happen immediately. John completed his degree in accounting then received his CPA license and worked in San Francisco for two years while Sandie finished her bachelor’s degree. The couple moved to Whitmore in 1974 where John took a leadership role in Remi Vista. In 1977 he became its executive director and has served in that role ever since. “John has done an amazing job,” says Faudree. “He has the gift of good  administrative and financial skills, and also has great people skills. That is a rare combination.”

With those skills, John assisted in growing Remi Vista from a single group home with 3 employees to an organization of 285 employees that serves six California regions, from El Dorado County in the south to Crescent City in the north. “We provide foster care, group homes, transitional housing, school-based and clinic-based mental health services, supported living for developmentally disabled adults, and crisis support services for autistic children,” he explains. “We live our motto of being “Ambassadors of Hope.”

In applying the philosophy of providing hope for those in  marginalized situations, John supports his staff in teaching their clients decision-making skills. “Our behavioral team assists the children and families we work with in understanding that the choices they make determine and are critically important to the life they have,” he explains.

Using this as part of their care model, Remi Vista’s priority is the wellbeing of children, and the restoration of families to safe and stable functioning with the support of all community agencies sharing the same goal.

John believes it’s a privilege to be involved in people’s lives and carries this privilege into all his interactions with others. Stephanie Holmes, Operations Director at Remi Vista, has worked with John for 12 years. “He’s pretty amazing,” she says. “He’s a role model and mentor for me. He’s passionate about his work and a very, very positive leader. I am blessed to work with him.”

John maintains focus in his life and challenging job through his faith. “I am a Christian,” he shares. “I am influenced by scripture, especially 1 Corinthians 10:31,which speaks about doing everything for the glory of God.”

Outside the office, John enjoys spending time with his wife Sandie, his three adult children, and his six grandchildren. “My grandchildren are the delight of my life,” he says. He and Sandie go on outings like taking road trips, and recently toured Northern California and Oregon. He plays golf, and boats on Shasta Lake. In September, he and Sandie plan to travel to Norway.

John serves as a board member for Covenant Counseling Center as well as on the Remi Vista board.

John describes himself as a somewhat private person but does divulge that he plans to retire in a couple of years. “We are here to serve, and this work I’ve done is how God directed me to serve in our community,” he says. No doubt he will find more ways to serve following his retirement.

To contact John and Remi Visa call (530) 245-5805.

[sws_blue_box box_size=”580″] The mission of our Be the Change column is to feature a community member from the North State who is actively making a difference in community life. If you would like to nominate someone who is making a difference, please write to pn@northstateparent.com. [/sws_blue_box]

Carolyn Warnemuende
About Carolyn Warnemuende

Author Carolyn Warnemuende has two daughters and five grandchildren, and lives with her husband in Redding. She writes parenting and educational articles, sponsors a school in Uganda, and visits Africa twice a year. She receives great joy in taking daily care of her four-year-old granddaughter who was adopted from Ethiopia.

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