About Us

Our Leaders: Sarah Whiteman, Co-Founder & Dawn Sorensen, Co-Founder

About our Leaders:

Sarah Whiteman (she, her) is a small business owner and LGBTQ+ advocate certified in diversity and inclusion at Cornell University. Sarah’s SBSS specialties include nonprofit management, marketing and communications, community engagement, as well as development and donor relations. With a degree specializing in Early Childhood Education, she has volunteered internationally promoting child welfare both at home and abroad. Sarah believes in the power of relationship, and focuses on bringing the whole family/community of care into the work of LGBTQ+ youth advocacy. As a self-avowed “church lady,” Sarah recognizes the importance of both mental and spiritual health within children, and helps kids develop a deeper spirituality. The promise of creating a world where every LGBTQ+ youth feels loved and accepted is a goal that keeps Sarah going.

Dawn Sorensen (she, they) is a life-long LGBTQ+ activist who has been leading and developing LGBTQ+ organizations since 1992. Certified in Faith Formation and Youth Ministry by the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ, they attended Andover Newton Theological School and work as a faith formation professional. Dawn is also a staff member in the Office of Ministry Studies at Harvard Divinity School who works with students pursuing Master of Divinity degrees. Committed to creating safe spaces for LGBTQ+ youth, providing resources, education, and care so that LGBTQ+ youth can flourish and spread their wings as happy, healthy adults are Dawn’s passions. Their memberships include: the Association of United Church Educators (ACPE), the SNEUCC ONA Task Force, Edwards Church, and HUCTW.

About Southborough Safe Spaces:

SBSS is made up of interfaith LGBTQ+ youth, friends, their families, and allies from Southborough, Massachusetts and the surrounding towns. The organization offers support and community to families of all kinds with LGBTQ+ youth in grades 6-12. The focus is on sharing and learning about LGBTQ+ experiences in a safe and fun environment. SBSS holds youth only meetings, parent/caregiver meetings, and all-ages whole family events. SBSS also provides congregational/faith communities with support and education. SBSS is committed to support LGBTQ+ youth and families in leading happy, healthy, full lives. SBSS is called to respond to LGBTQ+ families in mental and spiritual health crises by providing familial spiritual foundations for families with LGBTQ+ children and youth.

Southborough Safe Spaces (SBSS) began to help community kids and parents of all faiths navigate the struggles of coming out as LGBTQ+ while facing the scarcity of mental health providers, far too few meet the demand. The foundations of SBSS started with a belief that each person holds within themselves a spirituality that is inherent: it is part of what makes us human. SBSS’s foundation was launched by Christian parents who imagined a Parent-Informed, Youth-Focused, Faith-Based place for their families to navigate the adversity of raising LGBTQ+ youth in a world that presents them with unique challenges. Sarah (she, her) is the mom of an LGBTQ+ identifying teen who, two years ago, for the second year in a row, spent 7 days with her kid in the ER after a significant self-harm attempt. There were no inpatient mental health services available to help them for an entire week. Dawn (she, they) is the faith formation professional who showed up at the hospital every day to bring food and offer support, and a strong wish that they could do more. We are the founders of SBSS. We are parents whose lives were so changed by this experience, and in those moments in the hospital waiting room we realized these things were not only happening to us. The current national youth mental and spiritual health crisis came clearly into view, and we realized we were squarely in the middle of it. We turned to our faith to guide us, we turned to God for help, we relied on our community of faith to support and sustain us through these moments of adversity and crisis. This is the moment Southborough Safe Spaces was created, an emergency response for a heartbreaking crisis that knew no discrimination.

Opportunities to Serve

As part of the Southborough Community, we take pride in giving back when we can. We are growing and active in our community and we are working on planning future events where we can be of service to others.  Past service events included making Christmas Cards for the LGBT Asylum Task Force in Worcester, filling stockings for the LGBT Task Force, and sending cards to The LGBTQ+ based Home for Little Wanderers in Boston.

Reach us at southboroughsafespaces@gmail.com

If you would like to set up a recurring donation to sponsor a young person monthly, please click here. To make a one-time gift please click here. We value your generosity immensely–you help us save lives!!