NEW ORLEANS (WGNO)— Hope, health, and healing–these three words are what Dr. Patrice Sentino lives by.
“I was inspired by the word ‘hope’ because I believe everyone has the ability to make it. There is hope in every situation,” Dr. Sentino told WGNO’s Peyton Locicero-Trist. “No one has to be left out, no one has to be lost because there is hope. There is restoration.”
When Hurricane Katrina devasted New Orleans, the damage left behind wasn’t just debris. There was devastating trauma and for many, nowhere to turn for help.
“After Hurricane Katrina, there were no mental health services in New Orleans East. So as a resident of New Orleans East for almost 40 years now, this is an area I grew up in and I’m passionate about,” she continued. “At the time, I was working for Orleans Parish Juvenile Court and I saw many kids come into the system, which was almost like a pipeline to prison.”
Seeing the fractures in the juvenile justice system, Dr. Sentino knew she could help.
“I stepped out on faith and said ‘I want to be the one to come back and provide those services to my community,” Dr. Sentino added.
Opening the Center of Hope, Children and Family Services was a mission Dr. Sentino set out to do and she made it happen in 2008. To this day, it remains open and continues to help tens of thousands of children and families in the New Orleans community.
In the past, many generations would shy away from the topic of mental health.
“If you don’t have your mental health, you have no health at all. And so mental health is really how we function, it’s really how we live our lives. Especially in the African-American community there really was a stigma to really talk about mental health or people would consider ‘the stigma’ of being crazy or the terminologies, the negative connotations. But now with more education and more awareness, people are becoming informed.
When Dr. Sentino walks into a room, she focuses on making an impact whether it’s at home with her family, at work with children, or in the community with her peers.
“I’m reminded by one of the quotes Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said and it’s basically, ‘What are you doing for others?’ The most important thing you can do when you walk into a room is to have an impact, and that impact is to be able to help someone along the way. The most important thing we will ever do in life is what we do for others. Sometimes this work is hard work so it’s so rewarding and fulfilling when you see someone come in and that behavior has turned around and they are now productive citizens in society and giving back to their community.
Something Dr. Sentino says makes everything she does in New Orleans East all worth it.