Seattle Post-Intelligencer (12.07.05) - Tuesday, January 03,
Since 1988, the Seattle-based nonprofit Rise n' Shine has
provided emotional and material support for kids who have a
family member with HIV/AIDS. RNS now has an annual $450,002
budget and serves about 175 children; its services include a
summer camp for affected kids.
"It helps knowing that other parents have it, and I'm just not
going to drop dead," said Diane Harris, an HIV-positive mother
of a 6-year-old son and two young daughters, ages 11 and 16.
Housebound with pneumonia, Diane was able to rest recently
while RNS mentors took her children out.
Before partnering children with a mentor, Terry Marsh, RNS
program director, meets with families to determine whether the
diagnosis is accepted and/or discussed openly. Mostly, HIV
support groups refer clients to RNS.
"They went to a lot of meetings with me," Harris said of her
children, "but they didn't know what was going on."
The Harris family has to cope with many difficulties besides
HIV. The children have lived with relatives, and "the oldest
daughter, most of the time is the parent for the family," said
Marsh. "In many of these families, the need is so great you
just have to focus on one or two things," he said. "We're able
to help with the emotional stuff. You just can't quantify how
important it is for these kids to have a place they can come
to and talk about these things."