Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

An Odessa author hopes her book helps foster kids find permanent homes

ODESSA — All her life, Lori Diez has looked for a big way to help others. "I wanted to do something to better the world," she said. In childhood, she hoped to someday feed all the world's hungry children. That didn't quite happen, but the wife and mom of three still wanted to help kids in need. This year, she found a way. When Diez, 48, wrote a children's book, she decided to donate the proceeds to the Heart Gallery Tampa Bay, a traveling exhibit that encourages adoption so kids in foster care can get permanent families — something Diez doesn't take for granted.

She was just 3 days old in the spring of 1962 when "the most wonderful, kind, generous two humans" picked her up in Kankakee, Ill.

A family doctor had told the couple of a pregnant 20-year-old patient who didn't want her baby. They decided to adopt. Back then, the process was simple: no lawyer, no agency, Diez said. From Kankakee, they brought Diez to her new home 20 minutes away in St. Anne.

As far back as she can remember, they told her the truth of her history. "I have to credit my parents for their honesty at a time when many thought adoption should be kept a secret," she said.

When she was 2, Diez's family moved from Illinois to Pinellas Park, then to Inverness, where she grew up on a farm. She and her brother and sister — all adopted from different biological parents — learned a lot from their parents.

"Compassion," Diez said. "Never lie. And be giving. My parents were clearly giving; they took three children that weren't theirs and cared for them like their own."

Diez took care of the cows, chickens and horses on the family farm. She helped out with the housework and in the garden.

"Everything we did, we did it together," she said.

• • •

Today Diez lives in Odessa with her husband, Randy. Their son Randy Jr. is 23 and graduates from the University of Florida this month. Their son Mickey is 19 and a student at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale. Their 11-year-old daughter, Alexis, is a sixth-grader at St. Lawrence Catholic School.

One thing they grew up doing together is reading, especially at night. "It was part of our tucking-in ritual."

When Alexis was in second grade, Diez thought it might be nice for her daughter to have a book to which she could relate. She found "none about a child in a Catholic school," Diez said. So she wrote her own.

Angel or Not? Angel for Sure! is about a fourth-grader at a Catholic school who, when faced with a bully, has to choose between good decisions and bad ones. Diez self-published the book this year and finally saw her chance to help kids like she had always wanted: She would donate the proceeds to the Heart Gallery Tampa Bay.

The Heart Gallery, funded by the Children's Board of Hillsborough County and Hillsborough Kids Inc., seeks to raise awareness about foster kids and find families for them.

"We recruit families for the children who are hardest to place," said Jesse Miller, director of the Heart Gallery. "A lot of teens, sibling groups and children with special needs."

The gallery's mission means a lot to Diez.

"I was fortunate to have parents to call Mom and Dad," Diez said. "Every child deserves to have a family."

Miller said kids who don't have permanent families miss out on what most people probably take for granted.

"Being read to at night, a parent to attend your soccer games, transportation to practice, parents (who) celebrate your birthday," she said. "Normalcy."

About 75 percent of the money from book sales will go to the Heart Gallery. The rest will pay to print the books.

The money will address specific needs, such as a choir robe for a child who wants to sing in a chorus, a yearbook for a high school senior and cleats for a kid who makes the soccer team.

"Small things," Miller said. "but they're very significant to a child."

Mickey Diez, who illustrated his mom's book, admires her willingness to help kids.

"Giving back is wonderful," he said. "I'm so proud that my mom did this not for profit."

The profits, Diez said, will keep kids comfortable while they wait for what Diez knows they need.

"Permanency," Miller said. For a child, "knowing this is my family forever is huge."

Arleen Spenceley can be reached at (813) 909-4617 or [email protected]

How to help

For more information about Lori Diez's book, visit online at For more information about the Heart Gallery of Tampa Bay, visit online at heartgallery

An Odessa author hopes her book helps foster kids find permanent homes 12/09/10 [Last modified: Thursday, December 9, 2010 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Astros rout Yankees to force Game 7 of AL Championship Series


    HOUSTON — Justin Verlander pitched seven shutout innings to outduel Luis Severino for the second time, and the Astros bats came alive in their return home as Houston routed the Yankees 7-1 Friday night and forced a decisive Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

    The Astros’ Brian McCann, who has struggled during the ALCS, breaks a scoreless tie with an RBI double during the fifth inning off Yankees starter Luis Severino.
  2. Review: Faith Hill and Tim McGraw shower love, star power on Tampa's Amalie Arena


    Near the end of their potent new duet Break First, Tim McGraw stopped singing, and let Faith Hill's powerhouse voice take over.

    Faith Hill and Tim McGraw performed at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Oct. 20, 2017.
  3. Senate to take up AUMF debate as Trump defends reaction to Niger attack


    WASHINGTON — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is taking up a long-awaited debate about authorizing military force against the Islamic State as President Trump comes under unprecedented public scrutiny for his treatment of dead soldiers' families, following an ambush on troops helping to fight Islamic …

  4. In fear and vigilance, a Tampa neighborhood holds its breath


    TAMPA — There was a time, not long ago, when Wayne Capaz would go for a stroll at night and Christina Rodriguez would shop whenever she wanted. Michael Fuller would go to his night job as a line cook, not too worried about his wife at home.

    More than 50 people gathered and walked in the Southeast Seminole Heights community Friday to pay respects to the victims of three shootings. The crowd took a moment of silence at the corner of 11th Street and East New Orleans where Monica Hoffa was found dead. [JONATHAN CAPRIEL  |  Times]
  5. Fennelly: What's not to like about Lightning's start?

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — No one is engraving the Stanley Cup. No one has begun stuffing the league MVP ballot box for Nikita Kucherov.

    The Lightning, with a win tonight, would match the best start in franchise history, 7-1-1 in the 2003-04 Cup season.