Ryan Monroe Ehrlich wants you to know that he cares about you and your wellbeing.
He first found out about Real Change from another vendor who brought him a coffee when he was homeless living in downtown Seattle. However, the paper’s social mission is what motivated him to become a vendor.
“But I think there was a greater purpose [for] me coming here, rather than just him showing me where to get some coffee,” he said.
Ehrlich has lived most of his life in the Seattle area. For about five years, he traveled around the country, visiting states such as Minnesota, Texas and Tennessee and working various odd jobs. At one point, Ehrlich became a gourmet food salesperson.
As a devout Christian, Ehrlich believes that all churches are ultimately of the same congregation. He said that he has probably visited hundreds of churches over his lifetime.
He said that religion has helped him grow as a person.
“I’ve learned from the past; I’ve learned from people’s mistakes,” Ehrlich said. “The only thing I asked for is forgiveness. And when I do that, I believe that I’m forgiven, and that I can live stress-free, knowing that I don’t have that weighing me down, pulling me back.”
Ehrlich said that he spends a lot of his time helping unhoused people and people who use drugs. Sometimes this mutual aid work goes unappreciated. However, ultimately it does give him a strong sense of purpose, he said.
Amid all the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ehrlich said that he thought there was a silver lining with people slowing down and taking time to prioritize connections.
“I really believe that it had a lot to do with what God wanted and getting people to spend time with their families and not be slaves to their jobs,” he said. “And to take time to live their life and take a step back from everything that they’re doing in the fast-paced world and just realize how important life is and how short it is for some and motivate people to live a better life.
“[Although] I don’t know if that exactly worked the way it’s supposed to.”
Ryan Monroe Erhlich’s badge number for Venmo payments is 13662.
Read more of the Aug. 9-15, 2023 issue.