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Meet Ryland

From Food Stipends to Fighting Eviction


There’s a little bit of a stubbornness; we may not ask for help or think we need help, even though we’re kind of struggling.


Ryland was a student at Skyline College when he found himself facing the all-too-common financial challenges that can plague young adults. On top of that, tax season deadlines were approaching, and the once-clear path to utilizing free tax service had become cluttered with obstacles, chiefly a lack of available appointments.


Ryland’s connection with Russell, a fellow United Way Bay Area (UWBA) Ambassador who also volunteers his time with Free Tax Help by UWBA, offered his tax expertise. As Ryland explains, this indirect support gave him the necessary guidance to navigate his tax return with confidence.


I originally was planning to use [Free Tax Help] services… but [Russell] helped me with my taxes. So, it was kind of more indirect if that makes sense.


Ryland is also part of the UWBA Ambassador program, using his personal experience with our services to advocate for broader access to resources for the Bay Area. It’s an experience that includes support that would be critical in helping him and his mother fight eviction during a housing crisis exacerbated by the pandemic.


There [were] the rental assistance programs and law society aids that were helping people with their eviction cases… The meal stipend helped… this is money that we use towards food. So, that meant there’s this much more money that [we could] use towards whatever we owe.


Manson’s approach is personal, direct, and rooted in a sincere desire to better the community. He’s seen the relief wash over faces when they realize they’re getting a significant return, so for him, it’s really about trust and breaking down barriers.


We don’t share information without the client’s consent. So, they trust us. But we do that on a day-to-day basis – we’re on the frontline, engaging them. And that’s important.


The reality for Ryland and his family – as is for so many others for whom the threat of eviction looms – they were locked in a situation where any amount of financial flexibility would be crucial. He describes himself as a first-generation Chinese American, growing up on food stamps and frozen meals. He is also the first to go to college. So, at the time, the food stipend from SparkPoint™ Skyline College, another UWBA program that also provides financial coaching, became that essential resource, allowing him to think differently about his situation and reallocate funds to help keep a roof over their head.

Every dollar saved on food was another dollar he could use to remain housed.

Ryland’s journey is emblematic of the sometimes-silent struggle to try and find a balance between independence and seeking help. It highlights the importance of programs and community support for those striving to overcome the barriers that life unexpectedly throws their way.

His experience is a reminder that the reach of these services is more than simply the sum of their parts, providing not just financial aid but also peace of mind and the stability needed to weather life’s storms.


It helped a lot in terms of relieving some of that anxiety, even though [I felt] kind of undeserving.


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