As many of you know, I am a huge fan of strong women who make the most of life on the streets. That is why I am so excited to introduce you all to Raven. Raven grew up in a small town with her mother, who was her everything. Her father had left at a young age and her mother did everything in her power to provide a good life for Raven. She grew up in a happy, little house where she was raised to make the most of what she has. She admired her mother her so much for being an incredible example of what a strong woman looks like. Raven’s mother sadly passed away, leaving her alone in the world.

In Raven’s grief, she needed a major change and craved love and someone to share her life with. She met a nice man online who seemed like the whole package, so she gave up the life she always knew to move to Las Vegas after a few months of talking. For a while, everything seemed good. She was happy for the first time since her mother had passed and she was looking for a good paying job. Before she could settle in, the man she had moved across the country for had other plans and left her high and dry. She couldn’t come up the other half of the rent he left her, so she was forced out on the streets with no one to save her.

When most people would feel defeated, Raven felt empowered. She was on her own for the first time in her whole life and was forced to make the most of life on the streets. She had a new found confidence and finally felt secure in her own skin. She had no one to answer to and no expectations to meet. To make money, she collects cans and turns them into a local recycling agency. This provides her with enough money to have food and water and she does her best to save by going to local shelters for meals. Although the shelters provide a lot for individuals, she feels most comfortable living in her tent on the streets in downtown Vegas. I asked if she is ever nervous about being a woman alone on the streets, she mentioned that she does everything in her power to avoid conflict and this keeps her out of trouble. She maintains good relationships with other individuals on the streets but is also very selective with who she trust.

Raven’s biggest struggle on the streets is finding shelter in harsh weather and keeping clean. In the downtown area, business owners are very strict about not letting homeless individuals use restrooms so finding a place to wash up is difficult. She said the best place she has found is a gas station about 2 miles away from where she stays. Although this is not the easiest life, Raven has found happiness in her struggle. She makes the most of her situation and that is why I admire her so much. I often look back at the photo we shot for her story and think about how genuinely happy she looks.

I hope Raven’s story inspires you to be happy with the situation you are in and to make the most of the world around you. Life is full of good things, you just have to be willing to look.

Raven, if you are ever reading this, I hope you know the incredible impact you have had on me. You have shown me to make the most of my situation no matter how stressful or hard things get. I cannot thank you enough for sitting down with me and letting me get to know you. Please stay safe and never lose your optimism.

Thanks for reading,

Sydney