Profoundly impacted by the turmoil created for families and children who were affected by HIV/AIDS in the 1980’s, Janet L. Trinkaus left the business world to create a program for the children whose lives were devastated from loss of a parent from HIV/AIDS or from themselves being born infected with the disease. “Family is the core of our society. Without it, we are left adrift.”
The programs created were modeled after her own extended family – the mentors (her aunts and uncles), support groups (the safe and loving places of her childhood, like Sunday school), sleep away summer camp on the shores of the Delaware River in Pennsylvania, Grandma’s at Christmas time (the Holiday Party), advocacy (what her dad did so well, and the steady heart and hand of Janet herself whose vision continued to grow. Financial support was elusive as the fear of being associated with the disease was overtly rampant. But Janet would not be deterred. Her passion remained strong and despite many financial and personal sacrifices she continued to create a program whose success to this day cannot be easily matched.
As the face of AIDS and the disease itself changes, and the fear within society dissipates, it is a logical step to bring the success and synergy of the program to an additional population – 5 and 6 year old children graduating from therapeutic day care and childhood trauma centers who are entering public school kindergarten without the family support behind them. Sadly, in July 2013 Janet lost her 3-year battle with cancer and passed away. Janet’s legacy continues as more children and families are enveloped within her dream, and are given the opportunity to have the wind at their back and hands to hold as they are inspired to create their own opportunities and dreams.
Awards: 2010 AIDS Service Award; Safeco’s Rudy award recognizing her as a “Beacon of Light”; Winner of The Jefferson Award, founded by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Senator Robert Taft, Jr; The Children’s Alliance of Washington State as an Outstanding Advocate for Children; The International Giraffe Project as a “Giraffe” for “sticking her neck out for the common good.” She was featured in Family’ Circle’s “Women Who Make a Difference,” and in a short documentary film, A Story Of Hope.
Video of Janet Receiving the 2010 AIDS Service Award