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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 26, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 30
Remembering Janet Trinkaus - Rise n' Shine founder was a true LGBT community pillar
Section One
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Remembering Janet Trinkaus - Rise n' Shine founder was a true LGBT community pillar

by James Whitely - SGN Staff Writer

Janet Trinkaus, founder of Rise n' Shine (now Inspire Youth Project), passed away Friday, July 12, dying in her son's embrace at age 76 after a three-year battle with cancer. During her inspiring and accomplished life, Janet was a proud, empowered woman and a lover of the arts who 'laughed with abandon' and was characterized by dedication and a rebellious spirit. She is survived by her son, Stephen Trinkaus, and his wife, Jillian; her grandson, Cody Trinkaus; and her sister, Nancy Stratford.

Janet founded Rise n' Shine, a nonprofit agency that supports children and families who are affected by HIV/AIDS, in 1988. It was the first program of its kind in the nation and has since served hundreds of kids who either have the disease, have lost a parent to the disease, or are living with a parent who has HIV/AIDS.

She received multiple honors for her work, including the Jefferson Award for Public Service, the AIDS Service Award, the Rudy Award, the Washington State Mentors' Champion of Mentoring Award, and many others.

RISE N' SHINE
In 1988, Janet was feeling unfulfilled while working for at a real-estate firm in Bellevue and decided to take a week-long, solo retreat in the mountains to take stock of her life. A person of foresight with social justice always on her mind, Janet recognized that despite what the media was saying about HIV/AIDS and Gay men, women and children would inevitably become infected or affected by the disease, and she wanted to be ready to help them. She drafted the program that would become Rise n' Shine that very week.

'She had a lot of doors slammed in her face,' recalled Michael Dunlop, assistant director for program services at Inspire Youth Project (IYP), who worked by Janet's side at Rise n' Shine for 17 years. 'People didn't want money being taken away from the Gay men who needed it.'

Operating from her Snohomish County farm, which she later sold to raise money for the organization, Janet began with five children, two of whom now volunteer for IYP. The programs she designed were modeled after her own experiences at camp on the shores of the Delaware River in Pennsylvania.

'I remember from when I was 11-15, she sent to me to a pretty exclusive summer camp. She had some fond experiences in summer camp as a kid,' said her son, Stephen. 'It was her favorite thing to go to camp every year to be with the kids.'

Getting the initial support for Rise n' Shine was no easy task, as fear of being associated with the disease was rampant. Janet had studied business in college and by 1988 had a rich varied career background, having worked for PepsiCo in New York City as well as in the restaurant, furniture, and real-estate businesses. She also worked as a business consultant.

AHEAD OF THE CURVE
Janet hired her staff by intuition, creating a feeling of family, and she always seemed to find a way when donations slipped during financial downturns. As the years passed and public perception of the disease evolved, Janet always seemed two steps ahead.

'She was a businesswoman,' said Dunlop. 'She ran Rise n' Shine like a business. We wouldn't have made it without that direction. Look at all the HIV/AIDS service organizations that have closed or merged - we didn't.'

'She was so many things,' said Dunlop smiling. 'We're a small office, so we all do a little bit of everything. Janet loved brainstorming. She loved thinking of better ways we could serve the kids.'

Dunlop said that aside from her business mindset, one of the most important things she did was that she made those around her feel like family and she kept people laughing. This resonated throughout the agency to the kids, parent, and donors.

'In doing the work that we do, laughing is important. Humor is important,' Dunlop said.

REBEL GIRL
'I feel like most people know about the last 25 years,' Stephen told SGN.

One of his most recent memories of his mother was watching the TV series Mad Men together. She enjoyed the show because she herself was a strong and proud woman in the '60s. One of three daughters of a mother who was one of seven daughters, she was a big-city single mother working in corporate America, exactly when and where the show is set.

Janet married Stephen's father, George Trinkaus, in 1959, while attending Syracuse University. After graduating with a B.A. in business administration in 1961, the couple relocated to the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. She divorced George in 1965, shortly after Stephen was born.

Stephen called Janet's life in NYC after George her true 'watershed years.'

'Those were important years, not just in her life but in the history of social change in our country. Her neighbors were Black, Latin, and Gay in a time when generally people were more segregated and not out,' Stephen told SGN. 'Whatever [people] did was groovy and I think it just really fueled her drive, and kind of her rebellion.'

What impacted Janet was certainly passed on to Stephen, who owns his own business, Terra Organica, a health food store in Bellingham, where he lives with his family.

'Early on, my mom helped with the books and gave advice. She leant me money when I was broke and she really believed in what I was doing as business based on values more than profit,' Stephen told SGN.

Stephen's attitude toward business, as well as his active support of Rise n' Shine over the years, likely brought a strong sense of fulfillment to Janet, but what seems to have brought her the most joy was something else he gave her - the 10 years she spent with her grandson, Cody.

'He was her life. She just did anything and everything; was the best grandma in the world,' Dunlop told SGN. 'It was wonderful to watch her with him and I think that was one of the hardest pieces for her, knowing that she was leaving Cody.'

Janet 'retired' three years ago after the diagnosis and relocated to Bellingham. For a woman like Janet, 'retired' simply meant switching from full-time to part-time and working from home.

'Honestly, she worked up until the last month of her life,' Dunlop said. 'Her last two weeks were hard to watch ... to see this remarkable woman's mind not remember things and stop tracking as it always did.'

HER DREAM LIVES ON
Janet announced Rise n' Shine's new name and broader direction on May 9 of this year, her 76th birthday. As IYP, the organization is expanding services to include all at-risk youth ages 5 to 18. In addition to its advocacy work, its support programs include peer support groups, mentoring, and retreat programs like Camp Rise n' Shine, which still exists unchanged.

One Camp Rise n' Shine tradition is the annual memorial, held near the end of the weeklong retreat. There, the IYP family remembers the people they've lost during the course of the year. While IYP's staff comprises only six paid professionals and two interns, the family is much, much larger - it extends to past campers, their families, and donors.

'The memorial at the camp is one of the most powerful things that Rise n' Shine does,' said Dunlop. 'It'll be really heavy this year.'

In addition to the loss of Janet, one of IYP's program managers, Terry Marsh, who'd been with the organization for 12 years, died in April, just a month after his wife passed away. Two other members of the IYP family, a teen and a mother, also died this year.

'We've had a long spring,' Dunlop told SGN. 'It's going to be tough.'

MEMORIAL PLANNED
A public memorial for Janet will be held at Seattle's Town Hall (1119 8th Ave.) on Thursday, August 15, at 6 p.m. In lieu of flowers, Janet's family requests donations be made to Inspire Youth Project. This can be done on their website, www.inspireyouthproject.org. by James Whitely - SGN Staff Writer

Janet Trinkaus, founder of Rise n' Shine (now Inspire Youth Project), passed away Friday, July 12, dying in her son's embrace at age 76 after a three-year battle with cancer. During her inspiring and accomplished life, Janet was a proud, empowered woman and a lover of the arts who 'laughed with abandon' and was characterized by dedication and a rebellious spirit. She is survived by her son, Stephen Trinkaus, and his wife, Jillian; her grandson, Cody Trinkaus; and her sister, Nancy Stratford.

Janet founded Rise n' Shine, a nonprofit agency that supports children and families who are affected by HIV/AIDS, in 1988. It was the first program of its kind in the nation and has since served hundreds of kids who either have the disease, have lost a parent to the disease, or are living with a parent who has HIV/AIDS.

She received multiple honors for her work, including the Jefferson Award for Public Service, the AIDS Service Award, the Rudy Award, the Washington State Mentors' Champion of Mentoring Award, and many others.

RISE N' SHINE
In 1988, Janet was feeling unfulfilled while working for at a real-estate firm in Bellevue and decided to take a week-long, solo retreat in the mountains to take stock of her life. A person of foresight with social justice always on her mind, Janet recognized that despite what the media was saying about HIV/AIDS and Gay men, women and children would inevitably become infected or affected by the disease, and she wanted to be ready to help them. She drafted the program that would become Rise n' Shine that very week.

'She had a lot of doors slammed in her face,' recalled Michael Dunlop, assistant director for program services at Inspire Youth Project (IYP), who worked by Janet's side at Rise n' Shine for 17 years. 'People didn't want money being taken away from the Gay men who needed it.'

Operating from her Snohomish County farm, which she later sold to raise money for the organization, Janet began with five children, two of whom now volunteer for IYP. The programs she designed were modeled after her own experiences at camp on the shores of the Delaware River in Pennsylvania.

'I remember from when I was 11-15, she sent to me to a pretty exclusive summer camp. She had some fond experiences in summer camp as a kid,' said her son, Stephen. 'It was her favorite thing to go to camp every year to be with the kids.'

Getting the initial support for Rise n' Shine was no easy task, as fear of being associated with the disease was rampant. Janet had studied business in college and by 1988 had a rich varied career background, having worked for PepsiCo in New York City as well as in the restaurant, furniture, and real-estate businesses. She also worked as a business consultant.

AHEAD OF THE CURVE
Janet hired her staff by intuition, creating a feeling of family, and she always seemed to find a way when donations slipped during financial downturns. As the years passed and public perception of the disease evolved, Janet always seemed two steps ahead.

'She was a businesswoman,' said Dunlop. 'She ran Rise n' Shine like a business. We wouldn't have made it without that direction. Look at all the HIV/AIDS service organizations that have closed or merged - we didn't.'

'She was so many things,' said Dunlop smiling. 'We're a small office, so we all do a little bit of everything. Janet loved brainstorming. She loved thinking of better ways we could serve the kids.'

Dunlop said that aside from her business mindset, one of the most important things she did was that she made those around her feel like family and she kept people laughing. This resonated throughout the agency to the kids, parent, and donors.

'In doing the work that we do, laughing is important. Humor is important,' Dunlop said.

REBEL GIRL
'I feel like most people know about the last 25 years,' Stephen told SGN.

One of his most recent memories of his mother was watching the TV series Mad Men together. She enjoyed the show because she herself was a strong and proud woman in the '60s. One of three daughters of a mother who was one of seven daughters, she was a big-city single mother working in corporate America, exactly when and where the show is set.

Janet married Stephen's father, George Trinkaus, in 1959, while attending Syracuse University. After graduating with a B.A. in business administration in 1961, the couple relocated to the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. She divorced George in 1965, shortly after Stephen was born.

Stephen called Janet's life in NYC after George her true 'watershed years.'

'Those were important years, not just in her life but in the history of social change in our country. Her neighbors were Black, Latin, and Gay in a time when generally people were more segregated and not out,' Stephen told SGN. 'Whatever [people] did was groovy and I think it just really fueled her drive, and kind of her rebellion.'

What impacted Janet was certainly passed on to Stephen, who owns his own business, Terra Organica, a health food store in Bellingham, where he lives with his family.

'Early on, my mom helped with the books and gave advice. She leant me money when I was broke and she really believed in what I was doing as business based on values more than profit,' Stephen told SGN.

Stephen's attitude toward business, as well as his active support of Rise n' Shine over the years, likely brought a strong sense of fulfillment to Janet, but what seems to have brought her the most joy was something else he gave her - the 10 years she spent with her grandson, Cody.

'He was her life. She just did anything and everything; was the best grandma in the world,' Dunlop told SGN. 'It was wonderful to watch her with him and I think that was one of the hardest pieces for her, knowing that she was leaving Cody.'

Janet 'retired' three years ago after the diagnosis and relocated to Bellingham. For a woman like Janet, 'retired' simply meant switching from full-time to part-time and working from home.

'Honestly, she worked up until the last month of her life,' Dunlop said. 'Her last two weeks were hard to watch ... to see this remarkable woman's mind not remember things and stop tracking as it always did.'

HER DREAM LIVES ON
Janet announced Rise n' Shine's new name and broader direction on May 9 of this year, her 76th birthday. As IYP, the organization is expanding services to include all at-risk youth ages 5 to 18. In addition to its advocacy work, its support programs include peer support groups, mentoring, and retreat programs like Camp Rise n' Shine, which still exists unchanged.

One Camp Rise n' Shine tradition is the annual memorial, held near the end of the weeklong retreat. There, the IYP family remembers the people they've lost during the course of the year. While IYP's staff comprises only six paid professionals and two interns, the family is much, much larger - it extends to past campers, their families, and donors.

'The memorial at the camp is one of the most powerful things that Rise n' Shine does,' said Dunlop. 'It'll be really heavy this year.'

In addition to the loss of Janet, one of IYP's program managers, Terry Marsh, who'd been with the organization for 12 years, died in April, just a month after his wife passed away. Two other members of the IYP family, a teen and a mother, also died this year.

'We've had a long spring,' Dunlop told SGN. 'It's going to be tough.'

MEMORIAL PLANNED
A public memorial for Janet will be held at Seattle's Town Hall (1119 8th Ave.) on Thursday, August 15, at 6 p.m. In lieu of flowers, Janet's family requests donations be made to Inspire Youth Project. This can be done on their website, www.inspireyouthproject.org.

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