I had the absolute pleasure of getting to know Taryn on my last trip to San Francisco. As I always mention, powerful women on the streets are my absolute favorite individuals to meet. Taryn was no exception, she is a fully-functioning female powerhouse who has been homeless on her own for the past 16 years.

Taryn craved adventure after spending her whole childhood, growing up in Texas and then moving to San Francisco for a change of scenery. She dreamt of life within the big cities of California, seeking the glamorous lifestyle portrayed within movies. Her fairytale ending fell short upon arrival to the big city, the big city living came with a big city price tag. Alone for the first time with no money, Taryn was forced onto the streets in 2002.

Taryn quickly adapted to life on the streets and learned the ropes of survival. She said that the hardest part of this change in lifestyle was learning how and where to get help from others. The first few winters in San Francisco were brutal filled with ice cold nights. She said that the hardest part of life on the streets is keeping warm but scraping up the money for a few blankets provided temporary relief.

Taryn is a one-woman-show who finds living on the streets easier on her own. There is only one mouth to feed and only one body to clothe. She mentioned that she does not have the means to care for more than one individual. Although she does not travel with a group, she has found friends on the streets by talking with others. When I brought up staying in shelters, she mentioned to me that shelters are where things get stolen, so she prefers sleeping on the streets with her small basket of belongings.

One major thing Taryn is concerned about is getting proper nutrition on the streets. Although she appreciates the food people provide for her, she said she rarely receives fruits and vegetables that could nourish her body. She constantly receives fast food and sweets, which make her lack the energy needed to survive. She also attends free meal times through local charities but mentions they often only have fatty foods that don’t provide all aspects of the food pyramid.

When I asked Taryn what she wanted others to know about her, she stated simply, “I am human.” She went on to elaborate that in the fast city pace of San Francisco, people often overlook the homeless, applying unfair stereotypes to every individual. Taryn mentioned that she is not the negative image of a homeless individual but that she is simply a woman trying to survive.

Meeting Taryn was such a powerful and rewarding experience for me. She is truly the epitome of female power and strength. When I meet individuals like Taryn, I wish I could do everything in my power to save them. The truth is Taryn doesn’t need my saving, she enjoys her life and me treating her with dignity and respect was enough. Money will never compare to what the power of human kindness can do. This was a huge lesson Taryn taught me.

Taryn, if you are ever reading this please know that chatting with you in the park was a life changing moment for me. You showcase such strength and I hope to be half the woman you are one day.

Thanks for reading,