Sandra Whitley spent about a decade working as a paralegal before becoming an entrepreneur, running an auto detailing operation and later a mobile dental business. But if you’d asked her what her dream job was, Whitley always knew she wanted to spend her days helping kids like her.
Growing up in rural Texas in the mid-1970s, she was known as the fast kid and after participating in the Junior Olympics had hopes of becoming an Olympian one day. At 13, though, she was caught kissing girls and sent to a mental institution.
“It was horrific, to be honest. If you did something wrong, they’d put you in a two-by-four padded cell and kind of forget about you,” says Whitley, now the founder and executive director of Thrive Youth Center, which serves homeless LGBTQ+ 18- to 24-year-olds. “Everybody said I was a homo or queer and I didn’t even know what that was. I thought I was the only person who felt this way.”
Read the full story from Kathleen Petty on the San Antonio Magazine website here.