Sacred Heart grad shows how an inspired soul can touch many lives
By Ann DeMATTEO METRO
The desire to visit Kenya has burned inside Janet Patry for as long as she can remember.
She was never able to pinpoint why until the reality of her life’s mission manifested itself in 2007 on a volunteer work trip that changed her life.
The children of Neemaland in Nairobi, Kenya, opened her heart, and she promised them that when she came home, she would start an organization to provide for their basic needs and support them through school.
And so, Right 2 Thrive was born. “This was always something brewing inside. This is what I was waiting to do my whole life.”
Janet has returned to Kenya five times in four years and plans to live there in the future to continue her pledge that the children are not going to be victims of slums. “The children have heart and character,” she said.
“They could have been SHA students,” said Janet, a member of the class of 1992 of Sacred Heart Academy in Hamden.
Janet grew up in West Haven and now lives in New York, where she has had a career in human resources, training and development. She spent four years in south central Los Angeles as an emergency medical technician and previously worked in community health care in Spanish Harlem.
Eventually, she wants Right 2 Thrive to have a paid staff, but right now, she and her friends make up the working board of directors. Right 2 Thrive’s goal is to gather resources to improve living conditions and create opportunities for people in disadvantaged areas through education and empowerment, and to improve quality of life, Janet said.
“We struggle to raise money. Our big goal this year is we want to raise $65,000 to cover the operating budget of Neemaland.” Neemaland Queens and Kings Palace is an orphanage started by Grace Omundi in 2000. Its 10 kilometers from the center of Nairobi. The orphanage depends on donations.
In order to stabilize life at Neemaland, Right 2 Thrive will be training people in Kenya to help themselves.
Vocational training is at the top of the list. Right 2 Thrive will partner with Community Transformers, locals who have dedicated themselves to building up the community, Janet said.
“I can build the programs, design the curriculum and train the trainers in Kenya who will train the local community,” she said. By year’s end, she wants to move there.
Besides the fact that she has always been fascinated with Kenya and wrote school papers about it years before her first trip there, Janet says her path was carved by the “core values” foundation she received at Sacred Heart Academy.
Janet visited her alma mater recently to talk about her foundation, and how her time at the Catholic girls high school shaped her values.
Janet so impressed the students that she is returning on Feb. 13 to discuss setting up a partnership, according to school spokeswoman Beth Griffin.
Sister Mariette Moan, SHA’s director of alumnae relations, said that Janet represents “all that we hope for in a Sacred Heart Academy graduate. It is a personally rewarding experience to be with Janet and listen to the story of her journey of faithful listening to that inner voice in order to find her passion — God’s plan for her. This message resonated loud and clears with our students.”
Said Janet, “I’m really big on people finding their passion. Until you’ve tapped into your passion, you haven’t lived.”
“Unleash your awesomeness. Really, the world depends on it. When you do inspired work, it has a direct connection to everything else in the world and has a positive ripple effect. One inspired person creates many,” she said
The kids at Neemaland are phenomenal. They are the inspiring ones at the heart of this,” she said.
“Do what makes you feel most alive and it changes other people’s lives for the better. Blaze your own trail.”