Realtor Sean Ryan brings food to those in need as a Meals on Wheels volunteer
In an advertisement, a smiling Realtor named Sean Ryan casually leans on a picket-and-wire fence on the beach, holding up a sign that says, “I will help you buy or sell property on Hilton Head for food.”
Given the real estate market over the last few years, the image elicits a few chuckles and defnitely warrants a closer look. It’s at that point, once you look past the picture and see what Sean Ryan is doing for the community, you realize there’s much more to him than real estate.
Ryan does in fact work for food. Only the food isn’t for him. It’s for the Lowcountry’s many invisible poor, who wonder every day where they’re going to get their next meal. And a percentage of every real estate commission Ryan makes goes toward putting food on their tables.
For nearly eight years, Ryan has been a volunteer with Meals on Wheels, the organization devoted to help fight hunger in our community.
“It’s amazing to me,” Ryan said in a recent phone interview. “I sell real estate on the island and we live in this beautiful place. A lot of people don’t appreciate that there are still people who need help.”
This energetic volunteer, who just turned 40, has lived on the island for 16 years, hailing originally from Aiken. He shares his home with his wife, Colleen, and kids Quinn and McKenzie.
What began as a monthlong community service tour of duty with Meals on Wheels quickly became a passion for Ryan, and a calling that has kept him with the organization for years. He not only serves on the organization’s board of directors, he also interviews potential clients to try and assess who needs help, organizes fundraising letters and even drives the truck that delivers those life-saving meals.
“We’ll get calls from hospitals on occasion if someone is being discharged and might need hot meals. I’ll call and go visit them, find out if they are a candidate,” he said. “I’ve been in places that have dirt foors. It just makes you appreciate how giving people are all around here.”
Ryan says his client base is largely elderly, but here and there special situations call for Meals on Wheels’ help: A young mother with several children who was injured and restricted to her home, a mentally ill client whose family lived out-of-state and paid for meals to be delivered. And there are other clients with whom Ryan shares a personal connection, such as the gentleman originally from the New England area who educates Ryan on the ins-and-outs of football with every visit. Calling on this client became so enjoyable for Ryan that he has even brought the kids along on a few trips.
But, “if there’s anything said about me, I’d rather it be said about Meals on Wheels,” he said. “I’m glad that I’m being recognized, but there are a lot of people here who do the same thing I do. All the board members are so giving of time and energy. There are things that need to be done, be it brochures or whatever, and we all chip in.”
Meals on Wheels
The “Adopt a Client” fundraising project wil be in the spring. To get involved and adopt a client, or to donate your time or money to help feed the area’s hungry, call Meals on Wheels at 843-689-8334.