Thrive was established as a 501(c)(3) in February of 2015. Founder and Executive Director Sandra Whitley didn't have an easy time as a young lesbian living in a small town in Texas, so after leaving the business world, she began researching how to help LGBTQ young adults so that they wouldn't have the same experiences that she did. She learned about the epidemic of LGBTQ homelessness in our country, and assumed that there were plenty of LGBTQ-specific shelters helping young people. To her surprise, there were none in Texas, and only a handful across all of the United States.
Sandy started volunteering with the local branch of Stand Up For Kids, who provide street outreach services to all homeless youth, and saw the problem first hand by getting to know the young adults and seeing them sleeping under bridges and benches in San Antonio. In early 2014, Sandy visited the Ali Forney Center in New York City, whose staff provided invaluable support and guidance that helped her get started. They started out in the basement of a church, and being the entrepreneur that she is, Sandy decided to find a gay-friendly church in San Antonio and follow in their footsteps. Thrive was going to start out at Travis Park United Methodist Church by giving young people a safe place to sleep overnight, and planned to grow slowly from there.
Everything was set to open in October of 2014, but the day before opening, we were stopped by zoning. Thrive went through the re-zoning process and passed despite much uncertainty, and it was at this point that the City of San Antonio and Haven for Hope asked if we would open on their campus. We have been extremely grateful for the four years we have been on Haven's campus, as it has allowed us time to develop our whole program, develop amazing community partnerships, and receive various grants and federal funding. We would not be where we are without the opportunity. But our vision has remained the same since the beginning- having our own location.