Members of the community gathered Feb. 18 at Zionsville Fire Station 92, 998 S. U.S. 421, to celebrate the opening of the nation’s 100th Safe Haven Baby Box. It is the 80th box installed in Indiana.
Founded by Monica Kelsey, Safe Haven Baby Boxes is an organization that gives new parents a way to legally, safely and anonymously drop off newborns they are unable or unwilling to care for.
“There is no shame, no blame and no name,” said Monica Kelsey, founder of Safe Haven Baby Boxes.
Kelsey, who was abandoned as an infant, started the organization with the goal to help women such as her birth mother who feel they have no other choice than to give up their child by raising awareness, operating a 24-hour hotline for mothers in crisis and providing a legal and safe last-resort option for women.
Kelsey, an Indiana resident, spoke at the unveiling, along with several community leaders, including Zionsville Mayor Emily Styron, Zionsville Town Council President Jason Plunkett and Zionsville Fire Dept. Chief James VanGorder.
“It is a joy to bless the 100th Safe Haven Baby Box in Zionsville,” Kelsey said. “We know baby boxes matter and protect the anonymity of these mothers, and we are glad Zionsville has prioritized protecting the most vulnerable in their community.”
Since the first Safe Haven Baby Box was installed in 2016, 15 infants have been surrendered inside the boxes and over 100 handoff surrender through Safe Haven laws, which allow for anonymous surrendering of an infant with age requirements depending on the state.
“What you don’t hear in Indiana any more is babies being found in dumpsters and trash cans,” Kelsey said at the unveiling. “It’s been almost seven years since the last abandoned baby was found dead in the state of Indiana. Those babies that were being placed in dumpsters and trash cans, we’re finding them in our boxes.”
“I hope we can install these at all of our fire stations,” Plunkett said. “While I hope this baby box is never needed, I certainly pray that if it is, the person finds the strength and courage to seek and find this life saving resource in Zionsville.”
During her speech, Mayor Emily Stryon asked for a moment of silence for the women who have made this difficult decision.
“It is difficult to find yourself in a situation that you had not planned for, and I am so grateful that the Safe Haven Baby Box program supports women and gives them options and a safe outlet,” Styron said.
Funds for the Zionsville baby box were raised at St. Alphonsus Liguori Roman Catholic Church and also from a grant provided by the Diocese of Lafayette.
To donate, visit shbb.org/donate.