September 6, 2023 | Local News
Fr. Stephen Van Lal Than

Monica Kelsey (right), the founder of the Safe Haven Baby Box, helps Stacey Davis, the president of Right to Life Owensboro, and her children, cut the ribbon for #160 Safe Haven Baby Box at Fire Station #1 in Owensboro on Aug. 26, 2023.RILEY GREIF | WKC

Safe place for newborns provided as Safe Haven Baby Box is unveiled in Owensboro

BY RILEY GREIF, THE WESTERN KENTUCKY CATHOLIC

The Owensboro Fire Department is now home to the #160 Safe Haven Baby Box. Dedication of the box took place Saturday, Aug. 26. Community members lined 9th Street in front of the newly-installed Safe Haven Baby Box. Mayor Tom Watson gave the opening address, highlighting the need for the box: “Public safety is the number one goal of elected officials.”

Watson went on to share how the project was a joint effort between local government and non-profit organizations.

According to their website, a Safe Haven Baby Box is “a safety device provided for under state’s Safe Haven Law and legally permits a mother in crisis to safely, securely, and anonymously surrender if they are unable to care for their newborn. A Baby Box is installed in an exterior wall of a designated fire station or hospital. It has an exterior door that automatically locks upon placement of a newborn inside the Baby Box, and an interior door which allows a medical staff member to secure the surrendered newborn from inside the designated building.”

Owensboro Fire Department’s Chief James Howard, having heard of Safe Haven Baby Boxes from a couple of the firemen, was on board to have the box installed at First Station #1 once the House Bill #155 was passed, making this type of surrender legal in Kentucky. Throughout the process Chief Howard said it was “met with enthusiasm and open hearts.”

A crowd gathers on the sidewalk outside Fire Station #1 in Owensboro for the Aug. 26, 2023 installation of a Safe Haven Baby Box. A Baby Box is a safety device provided for under state’s Safe Haven Law and legally permits a mother in crisis to safely, securely, and anonymously surrender if they are unable to care for their newborn. RILEY GREIF | WKC

One of the organizations that worked closely on the project is Right to Life Owensboro, whose mission is “to educate the public on the dignity of each human life, regardless of his or her circumstances, and to foster respect for human life from conception to natural death.”

Stacey Davis, president of Right to Life Owensboro, worked with Chief Howard, the Knights of Columbus, the Fraternal Order of Police, Owensboro Health and various other organizations and nonprofits to fund the project. Some funding went directly toward the installation of the box, and some will go to yearly maintenance expenses.

A significant contribution came from the Dunn family who raised $8,000 after their eight-year-old daughter, Lillie, heard about Right to Life on the radio. Inspired to help, she and her brothers began making, selling, and taking donations for their art.

The founder of the Safe Haven Baby Box, Monica Kelsey, was present for the dedication and shared that her passion for the safe surrender of babies stems from her experience of being surrendered by her mother as an infant.

Ben Cecil, chaplain for Owensboro Fire Department, closed the ceremony in a prayer as individuals placed their hands on the box, quoting the first chapter of James, “to look after orphans and widows in their distress.” Safe Haven Baby Boxes are making that possible in Kentucky with three babies safely surrendered through baby boxes this year in the state.

Shown is the interior wall side of #160 Safe Haven Baby Box, located at Fire Station #1 in Owensboro, on Aug. 26, 2023. A plaque reads “Bassinet Sponsored by the Lo Family.” RILEY GREIF | WKC

Riley Greif is the digital media specialist in the Office of Communications for the Diocese of Owensboro.

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Publisher |  Bishop William F. Medley
Editor |  Elizabeth Wong Barnstead
Contributors |  Riley Greif, Rachel Hall
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