(WTNH) — Kelly Cronin lived on a farm all her life and had intended to become a veterinarian. She instead decided to go into social work. But, life rerouted her not once, but twice.
She lost her job, and she lost her mother to terminal cancer. Losing her mother was the moment in her life she decided to come up with a new business plan.
“I came home and said I wanted to start a farm on wheels.”
Her passion has always been animals and kids, so she started Kelly’s Kids in September 2014.
“It is considered a therapy program. It’s nontraditional therapy. We have a clinician on board if needed.”
She and her staff look after about a dozen kids. The kids are typically involved in the Department of Children and Families, coming from places where they may have been abused, neglected, or both.
“When you’re in a setting like this, it’s so natural; the kids don’t even know they’re talking to you about some of the deep issues inside them,” Cronin said.
She pours her heart into each one of them. Cronin recalled a special moment she had with one of the kids.
“I brought him out here, and we had a goat who had a baby, and the mom abandoned the baby, so we were bottle feeding it and keeping it warm. So he looked at me, and crocodile tears flowing down his face. And he looked at me and said, ‘you know Kell, I know exactly how this goat feels.’ And I said, ‘I know you do.'”
And it’s moments like that that show the real impact she is having. Not just on the kids but on the staff too.
“Her modesty, her dedication, her love. She loves the kids, she loves the animals. It’s amazing,” said, Beth Rafferty, who nominated Cronin.
To Kelly, it’s more than a job. It’s her life’s passion and purpose.
“It’s not a job you do for recognition, you do for money. You just do it for love, and that’s really what it’s all about, and that is remarkable. That is amazing. Not a lot of people do that anymore,” Rafferty said.