Kristen Thomas is a former Foster Youth and Foster/Adoptive mom. Currently residing in Raleigh North Carolina, working towards her License in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She is working as the Social Media Manager for One Simple Wish, whom has many programs to support those affected by foster care and also part-time for a program called Hope and Vine that employs and mentors young women who have aged out of foster care. Kristen really loves adventuring with her teen adoptive daughter Elise, always being outside, and snuggling with her sweet mini Labradoodle, Honor. Recent media appearances include being a guest on several foster care-related podcasts like “Fearless Fostering” and “A Longer Table” and having her story featured on a PBS Special with Lidia Bastianich. Kristen appreciates opportunities to advocate for foster youth in and out of the system, along with the amazing programs that are making real differences for those affected by foster care.
Dylan Katz is a volunteer for One Simple Wish
We at BabbleBoxx love working with One Simple Wish and the impact it’s been making. Can you share with our audience more about the non-profit organization and the mission behind it?
So One Simple Wish aims to support those who have been affected by foster care.
So either children still in care or those who have aged out, um, one thing that makes you one simple wish unique is that no one ever ages out of our program. So we grant wishes. It can be anything from a new pair of shoes to a Barbie dream. All the way up to like emergency funds for like those who are food insecure or need help with bills, et cetera.
Um, we also have scholarship programs. Um, we have a resource forum, which I love because it’s non-monetary and it’s helping those with lived experience in foster. Make budgets or do resumes, things like that. Right. Um, and then we actually have two programs launching this year, which are really cool. Um, stoke it actually helps and supports foster youth who have their own small businesses, which is so cool.
Yeah. Like, um, shelter will launch this fall and they are a residential program and mentorship for those that really are interested in like animal care’s like veterinary sciences and things like that.
You yourself were in and out of the foster care system, how did One Simple Wish help support you?
So when I aged out, I had a very little idea on how to eat healthy and cook healthy. And so when I was becoming a foster mom, I reached out to one simple wish for just basic cooking classes. And it was just so tremendously helpful to be able to learn how to. You know, heal some of my own food stuff, but also extend that to the kids that came through my home and eventually my adopted daughter, um, who loves to eat.
Um, and they’ve just been supporting me very consistently, uh, over the last couple of years and they just become family. So really big reason why I joined the team. That’s amazing. Thank you for sharing.
What drew you to One Simple Wish?
DYLAN: Well, I wanted to join forces with like a group or organization whose goal it was to, you know, raise awareness about foster care and like connect people to kids in need.
And initially it was hard to find someone who is willing to listen to my idea. I made calls and many emails to different organizations and through research, I finally found one simple wish and. I, you know, I was looking for a partner who had been active in the fields of caring for children for many years and I wanted and who wanted to try something new.
So when I heard and read about One Simple Wish like I just, and they responded right away, it has been amazing. And they were so open to the concept from the beginning. So it has been like a great collaboration and. It’s still going, so, okay.
So you came to me with this big idea. So now tell us what the big idea was and what you’ve been doing.
Um, so my idea was to send these, um, candy boxes to, um, children. I mean, we started off sending them. Our first box was to children in Texas and then our second and third boxes were just like everywhere. Like a lot of people from New York, New Jersey everywhere. And, um, We meet with one simple wish to discuss the new boxes and the candy.
And like we have different themes for the boxes and markets to target and to get feedback about previous boxes. And so far they’ve been a hit, which has been great. And then recently we have also launched a page like for this box, this Valentine’s box that we’ve been, that I’m currently packing right now.
And to have people donate, to fill and deliver additional boxes and. Uh, enough donations to fill over, uh, I think like 140 additional boxes to date. Awesome. I’m glad the candy is nowhere near my team. Um, and it’s closer to you. Oh, so
How has Dylan’s work thus far impacted One Simple Wish and what has been the response from the kids?
KRISTEN: Absolutely. We were just so impressed. Like anytime a young person really wants to get involved. It just so inspiring. So we just love Dylan. We just loved her energy and her passion and her creativity. Right. Let’s just so unique. And they’re just really thankful the impact was, you know, the young adults that she chose.
Cause it’s not going out to young children, it’s going out to the aged out community and they don’t always get the same kind of support, especially when they get the option to choose what was in the box. That was such a huge hit. And it really partners with what we believe is important that they have the opportunity to just kind of get loved on just because there’s nothing they had to do to earn it.
And they got to actually have a choice. So it was just really inspiring to hear some of the feedback. And one actually went to my house to my daughter and she adored it. So hit with the young people and in our home. So, yeah. And just so everyone can understand the way that it worked was that there was there’s different themes that we set up on a landing page and the children get to choose.
So there’s like usually nine candies, right? Dylan. Based on the theme and then the children get to choose the three that they want. And then there’s like these cute boxes that go to all the children.
You had a massive win last Summer via Reddit. Can you tell us what happened and how it impacted the organization?
I think. Yes, absolutely. So we received the Reddit hug of death, which is usually not a great thing because they crash your site. Right. But it was in the best way possible. So. Like commented. What was the greatest thing you’ve ever done, but you never told anybody. And someone commented that they had granted a wish for a kid in foster care who wanted a bike.
And because of that, there was like an avalanche of support. Our site crashed so many times from so many people wanting to donate and to grant. It was like, I’m even getting chills, just thinking about it. Like it was so incredible. It brought us all to tears. Um, it lasted for weeks. Like it was just incredible.
And the, because of that, the most important thing that happened, not just the wishes were granted, but so many of those out there who didn’t know we existed or now are now receiving support. Right. Um, which is just this icing on top for sure. And you have no idea where like, it’s just some somewhat. From the ride to get in touch with the person who made the comment that they just really want it to be anonymous.
That is incredible. And that’s, I guess the power of social, right?
In your work thus far, have you ever leveraged influencers to help spread the word for One Simple Wish?
We do. Yes, we have been so tremendously thankful. We’ve had several influencers support and bring awareness to our mission, to help get us out there to those who need us.
Um, and also we’ve worked with brands. We’ve worked with some corporate partnerships that actually matched donations and things like that. Um, and then too, I think what’s really cool is the people who actually grant the wishes are some of our greatest influencers, because they’re so passionate about what they’re doing, that they spread our awareness really well.
It’s just so important and meaningful to us. So yes, influencers, but honestly, anyone who has a heart and just spreads our message, we are just equally for and thankful they’re analyzed Dylan, right? Yes, absolutely.
So Dylan, how does it feel to be making this impact?
I mean, I I’m just so happy about like the work that I’ve been able to do with babbleboxx and one simple wish.
I mean, like the minute I read about like the foster care issue, I knew I had to make a difference. Like, even if like, for a moment, just to tell like these children and like these aged out, like people in like the system that they’re cared for and that someone is thinking of them. And like, I guess like over time, like doing these boxes, I’ve just realized that.
One person like me, I can do something like if I’m committed to it and like, I, like, I didn’t give up, like, and it’s been like a wonderful learning experience. Like we’ve delivered hundreds of boxes and like it’s made people feel great and cared for. And like my Mo like my goal was just to make a difference.
And it’s just like, I’m really happy with how it’s like. When it comes to your workload, how do you balance doing this? And I know you’re in exams and you do really well in school apparently. So how do you do at all? I just think like, if you like, believe in your mission and like, Like the ability to like, explain like your desires and your like, reasons, like you should like, be able to get involved.
Like it takes persistence. And like, you have to like, do your research and set aside, like time to like, make like your lists of targets and like make goals and outline the idea and like, learn about it. But like, I just, it takes like critical thinking and, you know, research skills and like, just like a belief and like making a difference.
How can those listening get involved with One Simple Wish?
Um, honestly following us on social media is probably the best way to stay in touch with us.
Um, and I’m sure you might share some of our tags, but also, you know, we have found so many of us, there are still people who email in or talk to us, found us just through friends, coworkers, the person next to you in line at the grocery store, when you really understand the need and the, the amazing work that One Simple Wish does.
So simple, like it’s not some complicated system. Um, we have just such an amazing team that works tirelessly to make sure that the red tape is cut through. And every child that reaches out to us has some type of support and they’re better when they come to us. And so when you really get that, almost anyone can truly make a difference, um, just by sharing our mission.
So I hope everyone tuning in does, and the website is one simple wish.org. I have some, a lot of people might go to the wrong one.
Name an influencer you love to follow but hate to admit you do?
Okay. So I’ve been following, you might know them, the Holderness family. Um, they actually live in my community in Raleigh, North Carolina. Never met them.
I’ve seen them in public, but I gave them their space, you know, but they make these like cringy, but relatable videos that are hilarious. And like every morning I’m like, okay, did they post a new one? Like, um, I, I learned and they actually won the amazing race last night. They won. Hi. I was sobbing. I was so happy for such good people.
Right. But, you know, I sometimes don’t repost their videos because they are a little bit crazy, but they’re so funny. So yeah, the amazing race, but thank you. Okay, Jill, I’m going to pass it to you. Name an influencer. You love to follow, but hate to admit that you did. Honestly, like probably like a tech talker, like Charlie Damilia or like Addison, Ray, like I like talk videos and like I learned dances from them and like people, people like my friends just don’t like that.
I follow them. So I just never talk about it. But like when I’m like watch their videos and I’ll learn their take talk dances, I things from like Addison is Tik TOK, a makeup line and like, Well, there is proof positive influencer marketing works, right? So everyone, please, please visit one simple wish. And Kristen, it’s lovely working with you in the organization.
And Dylan, thank you for everything you have brought to Babbleboxx, and I hope you’ll hell you soon, Dell in person. Thank you both so much. Have a great day and we’ll see you soon