Family of the Year and International Service Awards

International Family of the Year

Terrance and Alison Tinker can honestly say that they have 180 children in their family. As foster parents since 1982, the Tinkers have brought that many needy children into their home, some for days or months, others for years.

The couple, who live in Snow Hill, Md., has three grown children born of their union, the youngest of whom, Phillip, is a Navy corpsman stationed in Afghanistan. They have four girls living at home whom they adopted from foster care. They are also grandparents of the many offspring of their foster children.

For their heroic openness to children and their witness to their beauty and sanctity of human life, the Tinkers are this year’s Knights of Columbus International Family of the Year.

“Our house is always open; we take children any time of the day or night,” said Alison Tinker, who is 50 years old. “We take children who may need to be separated from their parents for any reason, and we even work with the birth parents to see if they can be reunited with their children.”

Terrance, 53 years old, who is retired from the Navy, has been unable to walk without assistance for the past few years due to a degenerative disease. He is grand knight of St. Francis de Sales Council 3489. He called the Knights of Columbus a “great fraternity” that performs inspiring charitable and religious works throughout the world.

What gives the Tinkers the strength to handle so many children over so many years?

“I think it goes back to the theme of this convention,” said Alison. “ “I am my brother’s keeper.” When you have that attitude, you see that caring for children is a wonderful thing to do, especially those with special needs.”

She added, “We have little kids in the house all the time and that keeps us young. They bring out the best in you, and you just keeping going to keep up with them.”