Ryan’s Story – Helping the “Others”

During the pandemic lockdown, Ryan and his wife found themselves taking walks through the neighborhood to get a break from being cooped up in their apartment. Friends In Deed House was on their regular route, and they became intrigued enough to check us out. From there it wasn’t long before Ryan started volunteering in the Food Pantry.

Ryan has a background in disaster mitigation and grants management. The grants management experience was a natural fit for FID, and Ryan accepted a staff position helping us with COVID-related rental assistance. His background in disaster mitigation is not such an obvious match (no jokes, please!) but Ryan says that there are surprising areas of correlation between that discipline and the world of housing and food insecurity. When the position of Senior Director of Programs became available, Ryan was a logical choice. He has also discovered a previously unsuspected business acumen, which has helped him flourish in the role.

Despite being born in the US, Ryan spent most of his childhood in other countries – in Mexico, then Brazil (the picture shows him there with his mom), and then Kenya from the age of about nine through High School. He says this international experience leads him to take a deep interest in people’s stories, and the history and circumstances that have led them to where they are. He is interested in recognizing and understanding his own privilege, as someone born with a particular skin tone and background, and how that plays out in the work he now does.

This love of cultural diversity is one reason Ryan was drawn to the Friends In Deed community, but there’s another reason, which is deeply personal. Ryan’s mother, as she grew older, experienced worsening mental health and periods of homelessness that Ryan and his siblings were unable to prevent. He says, “we all have people in our lives who are struggling with things, and we are not always the person who can help them,” so instead we help the others – the people who are someone else’s brother, or child – or mother.

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