18th Birthday of WWO and the Tragedy of 9/11


I awakened around 2 a.m. thinking about Worldwide Orphans celebrating its 18th year birthday today. We legally incorporated the foundation on September 11, 1997 and the story of its growth and development is just like the story of a child growing up: with early years of wonder and sweetness, middle years of miraculous physical growth, individuation and challenges, and then capacity building and credibility.

Worldwide Orphans now enters the age of scale and sustainability which is the hope of every organization that endeavors to work with vulnerable individuals in their communities, whether in the U.S. or abroad. This 18th birthday marks our time to launch core programs that have achieved best practice status and that can now be our long term legacy for social change. It is our time to demonstrate and prove our theory of change, wherein impoverished communities can be strengthened and generations can be changed to provide children with medical care, education and psycho-social stability.


Today is a tragic day in world history and coincidentally the birth of WWO - four years prior to 9/11/2001. 9/11 is a holy day to me. I have friends, like the Lutnick's, who lost their brother Gary, along with 657 other employees at Cantor Fitzgerald. A neighbor, Doug Cherry who worked at AON where 176 employees perished, lived in Maplewood with his family and he died that day. My son, Des, and I ended up building a house in Tijuana a few years back with a group of volunteers, "Youth with a Mission," in support of Sarah Cherry, Doug's widow, who created this organization to build homes for homeless Mexicans, in Doug's honor.

9/11 is a reminder that with tragedy, there is resiliency and lessons learned. We go on and life is renewed and we are hopeful. I am inspired by all those who suffered losses on that day and will always honor this day for its historical significance and the reminder that Worldwide Orphans has a birthday on that day. That birthday must always be a day to commemorate what we have accomplished and what we must strive for in the future. We must be resilient and learn lessons and renew ourselves yearly to do our very best for the children and communities we serve, abroad and in the United States.

Dr. Jane Aronson, CEO, Worldwide Orphans