Natalia E Contreras, Corpus Christi Caller-Times
Published 7:24 p.m. CT Jan. 28, 2018
Steve and Lori Carlino moved to Corpus Christi from Fort Worth a few years ago in hopes of laying low and starting fresh.
They’d been working hard for years, their kids were grown and gone and it was time to focus on themselves, they thought.
But plans changed.
“God had another purpose for us,” Steve Carlino said.
Carlino had gotten laid off from a previous job and he and his wife — who is a nurse —decided to make the move.
The couple opened Office Pride, a commercial cleaning business and they joined Fellowship of Oso Creek.
There the couple found out what they were meant to do — help children.
“God had a clear message for me that I was to work with kids, and Steve laughed at that,” Lori Carlino said. “And at church, I met Susan Klaus, who is the founder of Agape Ranch.”
Agape Ranch is a nonprofit organization and it provides foster care services in South Texas by supporting and equipping foster and adoptive families.
Once the couple learned about the organization, they immediately became involved.
“My husband believed in this as much as I did,” Lori said. “We are called to serve and these children and teens need help.”
The couple got certified to become respite care providers. They help foster, adoptive, and kinship parents and children get the chance to have time apart.
Foster parents can’t leave the children in the care of just anyone, Steve Carlino said. And that’s where they help.
“Any time foster parents need to leave the state, they can’t take the children with them, so we watch them,” Steve said.
Steve and Lori Carlino got training in CPR, behavioral management, medication and safety.
Four years later, Klaus, Agape Ranch founder, said the couple looked after her children, who she has since adopted, when she was a foster parent.
“(Steve and Lori) were like angels to me at that time,” Klaus said. “And they are truly like angels in this community.”
And Klaus said being respite care providers isn’t all the couple does within the organization.
Lori and Steve often help with Agape Ranch adoption events for families, they help distribute Christmas gifts for the children and they have donated funds, she said.
The Carlinos’ company Office Pride also recently donated money to the organization.
“Lori has that grandmotherly sweetness about her and the children flock to her, they love her,” Klaus said. “And Steve is so compassionate about what the children go through and he wants to help as much as he can because he knows life can get tough, especially for these kids.”
The couple has been working closely with two families and about six kids in the past four years.
“Serving others makes them who they are. They can try to retire but this is what they love to do and they’ll keep going,” Klaus said.
And on top of helping families and kids, the couple continues to volunteer and thrive in their business.
Steve was recently awarded the Office Pride Core Values Award for the integrity with which he runs his business, officials said.
And Lori has traveled to Ecuador in 2015 and 2016 to help those with medical needs in the South American country.
“Serving God and doing what he has called me to do is so important and I really don’t see myself retiring,” Lori Carlino said. “We plan to keep going. This is going to be our lives, helping foster families.”