Lorenz aids Cincinnati foster children through family nonprofit

Sophia Johnson | Staff Writer

From fostering kids to fostering an organization, the Lorenz family is working to treat every child as their own. 

Junior Leah Lorenz and her family are making sure local foster kids are at home with their family founded outreach program, Warm Welcomes, a nonprofit organization that provides basic necessities for kids in foster care.

According to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, over 15,000 children are currently living in foster care in Ohio. This is often due to children being neglected, abused, or raised by unfit parents. These kids are not given all of the resources others may have, both through emotional support and physical necessities. 

Lorenz said her families’ desire to help kids in the foster care system is what caused them to foster and later adopt into their own family. Having the ability to make an impact on the lives of children in foster care is what motivated the family to start Warm Welcomes.

“We have always been passionate about foster care because my two youngest sisters have been adopted from foster care,” Lorenz said. “We have always found it a little odd how Child Protective Services (CPS) would come to their door, get the child, and the child would have to put what little they had into a plastic trash bag. We decided that’s not acceptable.”

  Lorenz said Warm Welcomes focuses on what many other people may seem to overlook by supplying crucial supplies to the children in foster care.

“Imagine leaving everything you’ve ever known, going to a new house, not knowing where your toothbrush is, not knowing if you have any deodorant, not having any body wash,” Lorenz said. “So, we provide bags for those children and it comes with things that they need or would help comfort them in this really hard time.”

Junior Emily Holcombe found involvement in Warm Welcomes as a volunteer who helped participate in packing welcome bags. These bags are given to kids when they first enter the foster care system in order to provide kids with something they can claim as their own. Holcombe said the process was fun and simple, creating an easy way for everyone to serve.

“You just take backpacks and get slips of paper that say the age. There’s massive bins full of books, crayons, and all kinds of stuff like that for the kids. Then you put a note in and hang the backpacks up,” Holcombe said. 

Lorenz has consistently had a significant involvement in Warm Welcomes and continues to help her parents with this growing nonprofit organization.

“I started out as the child ambassador where I would go with my mom to schools, events, and churches, and I would speak to them. I’ve spoken for multiple grant organizations where I just explained what we are and what we do,” Lorenz said. “I also am now transitioning into the social media coordinator for Warm Welcomes. I am going to be running the Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, so It has been pretty hands on.”

Cofounder Krista Lorenz said when she started Warm Welcomes with her husband in 2013, they were unsure of where it would lead them, but through the success, have continued to keep the idea of what Warm Welcomes stands for.

“Warm Welcomes was out of our basement five years ago, where we were just collecting backpacks and adding some necessities into it. Then we started thinking about three key things: encourage, enrich and empower. The encouragement piece of it is our welcome bags. Then enrichment is we host parties four to six times a year every couple months. Empowerment is where we want kids that are in foster care to also get opportunities to give back.”

Along with being able to reach out to more kids, Lorenz said they focus on also changing the image of how many people think of kids in foster care. 

“We’re just trying to look at those little details that were missed along the way, because oftentimes, when there is a crisis involved, survival mode kicks in. What we want to do is provide those other things that we provide to our own kids,” Lorenz said. “Instead of saying foster kids, we say kids in foster care because what we want as an organization is people to start seeing the kids first, not their circumstances first.”

The Mason community has also made a large impact on the goals they have strived for, Lorenz said. She will continue to use every opportunity to spread awareness about children in foster care.

“People may be looking at adopting from elsewhere, and going from afar but they don’t recognize the need here in Cincinnati all around us. Being able to be part of Warm Welcomes, know what we stand for, and spreading that to other people when I’m just having a conversation with them, has brought in a lot of volunteers and donations,” Lorenz said. “It has made an impact on our growth and how many we can help.”