NEW YORK and BAKERSFIELD, Calif. September 13, 2001 -- The Twin Towers Orphan Fund was established today by a coalition of independent public relations practitioners around the nation in response to the tragedies affecting families and children in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Washington, Newark and other towns and cities throughout the U.S. The new fund, which was co-founded by a local Bakersfield charity, is earmarked for the long-term well being of children that were made orphans by the national disasters of September 11, 2001.

Across the nation, PR pros are dedicating time and energy to help raise awareness of the new charitable endowment fund for the surviving children of parents killed in the Twin Towers disaster and those on board the several ill-fated airliners. A massive grass roots campaign will begin tomorrow with practitioners from Maine to California drawing attention to the fund. Monies collected will be used to provide the affected children long-term educational and housing assistance, daily necessities, and mental and physical health care.

"We are working with our counterparts in the media to gain attention and support for this group of children who have lost one or both parents in these devastating crashes and building collapses. We believe that while these children may not be overlooked by the established charities, they may need additional help and a charity that focuses on their needs," said fund-cofounder Dana Victoria Sophia, owner of a boutique, lower Manhattan PR firm in the middle of the catastrophe. "

Together with west coast-based fund co-founder W. Knox Richardson, another small shop owner, they have garnered more than 35 agencies and independent professionals who are presently putting out the word to solicit donations to the new fund.

Within hours of the first explosion, Richardson and Sophia, who have never met in person, began exchanging e-mails on a public relations Internet mailing list and within that one day had gathered enough support to build an instant grass roots national publicity campaign.

Richardson, a resident of Bakersfield, Calif., a town known for its volunteering spirit, was put in touch with David Mills, executive director of Garden Pathways Inc., whose Family-to-Family Mentoring program provides a natural fit for the fund raising venture. Mills offered the use of its tax-exempt status to the new fund and will even provide a phone bank of local volunteers. Funds collected will be held in bank-supervised trust fund.

"Everyone is touched by this tragedy and the children left behind are the real victims," Mills said. "We are hopeful this effort will provide all those children so severely touched by the disaster a chance for are more secure life."

Fund co-founder Knox Richardson said, "It is our sincere hope that nearly every penny of the fund will find its way to those most in need of our assistance. This is an effort by those who know best how to get the nation's attention to contribute to the cause collectively we found most important." Criteria for the disbursement of the fund monies are still being formulated, he added.

The fund is officially called the "Twin Towers Orphan Fund" and will be administered by the Family-to-Family Mentoring program, also in Bakersfield.

Checks or payments can be made to "Twin Tower Orphan Fund," care of Family-to-Family, 900 22nd St., Bakersfield, Calif. 93301. A tax-deductible receipt will be provided for donations of $250 or more. This is a program of Garden Pathways, Inc., a 501c3 organization. Annual audits are available upon request. . A Website has been created to accept donations by credit cards at To make donations by telephone, donees can call (661) 633-9076, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Pacific time.

National media contacts:
W. Knox Richardson

Bakersfield media contacts:
Jeanette Richardson
Bakersfield, Calif.
(661) 397-1488