Our Founder

River of Refuge Founder John Wiley

In 2006, John Wiley watched as a half-dozen children got on a school bus from a run-down, high-rent, local motel. He thought to himself, “No child should have to live in such a horrible place.” So he and a handful of friends began reaching out to working families who pay $800 to $1,200 a month to live in one-room motels. They discovered that most of the families had been trapped in this one-room world for years on end.

As time went by, the financial weight of helping so many families became unmanageable. In 2008 while driving past the vacant Park Lane Hospital, John said to himself, “Somebody ought to buy that hospital and turn it into a place for our families” — and he quickly became accountable for his words.

In 2009, John founded a nonprofit organization called River of Refuge. The organization purchased a former hospital and is transforming it into transitional housing for working families who are trapped in high-rent motels.

The assistance these working families receive allows them to save the money they would have otherwise paid to high-rent motels. This allows the families to heal financially and ultimately move into more affordable housing.

John believes you do not need to go halfway around the world to make a difference. Instead, each person needs only to own their own community — own what has been placed in front of them.