Mason family organization supports foster families

Megan Lee | The Chronicle

¨To encourage, to empower, and to enrich the lives of youth in foster care.¨

These are the core values of Warm Welcomes Foster Care Outreach. In 2013, the Lorenz family founded Warm Welcomes, an organization aimed at providing a safe environment for families involved in foster care. During their time as a foster family, parents Krista and Howard Lorenz saw the need to help other families who were looking for support. Warm Welcomes strives to take small steps to make the transition for foster families as easy as possible.

Rooted in family values, Warm Welcomes recognizes families who take in children in foster care across Butler, Hamilton, Warren and surrounding counties in Ohio. With the help of their family, the Lorenz parents were able to found an organization to support foster families who may be feeling overwhelmed. 

Krista Lorenz said that it was her oldest daughter, Leah Lorenz, who came to her feeling the need to make a difference. 

¨We noticed that a lot of people seemed comfortable talking about adoption, but maybe not foster care,¨ Krista said. ¨There weren’t a whole lot of ways to get involved directly.¨ 

While Warm Welcomes started in the Lorenz family basement, it quickly grew into a community effort. With the help of their six children, Krista and Howard Lorenz have developed Warm Welcomes into an all-volunteer organization to help children in foster care.

To help make children in foster care more comfortable, Warm Welcomes supplies and produces welcome bags. Welcome bags consist of an unmarked backpack with different necessities, comfort items, toiletries and activities for children to utilize and enjoy.

¨This is our way of sending the signal to children in foster care that someone was preparing for them,¨ Krista said. ¨Someone was thinking about them and they’re not an afterthought.¨

Along with welcome bags, Warm Welcomes also hosts welcome parties for foster families in the community. Welcome parties are a free, easy-to-access event that gives foster families a chance to get out and connect with others. Krista said Warm Welcomes tries to host multiple events a year at fun, family-friendly places, like snow-tubing or a campfire. 

¨These events are free because some [foster families] at our events have ten to fifteen kids, and that’s not something they would usually be able to afford,¨ Krista said.

Josie Lorenz, a junior at Mason High School and the third oldest child in the Lorenz family said she was driven by the passion she felt from her family to get involved and help other foster families. Josie said that through Warm Welcomes, she has been able to educate herself on the reality of foster care.

¨The foster care system is an extremely hard place to be in,¨ Josie said. ¨Many kids go into foster care with very little belongings, if any at all, so giving them [welcomes bags] is extremely helpful.¨

Josie said she has witnessed firsthand the struggles of creating an easy transition for children in foster care, and she wanted to give these children a chance to feel safe and cared for. 

¨Oftentimes children in foster care transition suddenly and quickly,¨ Josie said. ¨[Welcome bags] give them a place to start.¨ 

Knowing the varied experiences foster children usually have, Josie said she has been excited to use her experiences to relate to others who may be struggling to connect with their new routine. 

¨You’re seeing so many more different experiences than you normally would,¨ Josie said. ¨I’m working with a bunch of families and kids who are in very different situations than me, and I like being able to see their life and do what I can to help out.”

With their work in Warm Welcomes, the Lorenz family has shown other foster families that the challenges they are experiencing are normal and that they have support. Krista said that as Warm Welcomes has developed, she has been excited to watch her kids grow up and find an interest in helping others.

¨Warm Welcomes has been something that all of my kids, my husband and myself have been able to come together on,¨ Krista said. ¨When you have a big family coming from different circumstances, it’s always a good thing to have a mutual goal.¨

Being funded by the community, Warm Welcomes relies on the time and resources devoted by the community to help foster families. Krista said that through working with her family and peers, she has felt  that they have made a true impact on the community. 

¨Seeing people use their talents in big and small ways to make sure that foster care is something that we all know about, and that we’re respectful of, just makes things better,¨ Krista said. 

Although the Lorenz family runs Warm Welcomes, their efforts would not be possible without volunteers helping them out. Krista said Warm Welcomes has thrived under the support of the community, and it is inspiring to see others in their community excited to help those who need it. 

¨Warm Welcomes is not just about the Lorenz family,¨ Krista said. ¨It never has been. It’s about small efforts from a lot of people.¨