Ocala – Ocala Fire Rescue (OFR) hosted an unveiling ceremony for Florida’s first Safe Haven Baby Box (SHBB) at the MLK First Responder Campus, 505 NW MLK Jr. Ave., on December 15.
A small number of guests gathered outside of OFR’s Station #1 to witness the unveiling of the SHBB, located on the southwest corner of OFR’s fire administration lobby tower.
Remarks were provided by Ocala Fire Chief Shane Alexander, Pastor Mark Cummins, City Councilman Ire Bethea, Sr., City of Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn, Senator Dennis Baxley, State Representatives Joe Harding, and Mike Beltran, as well as Safe Haven Baby Box Founder Monica Kelsey, and Linda Znachko from He Knows Your Name Ministries.
Designed for the safe, secure, and anonymous surrender of a newborn by a mother in crisis, the SHBB is equipped with cooling and heating features, locking mechanisms, and alarm systems that trigger an immediate response through 911.
“By adding a Safe Haven Baby Box to the MLK First Responder Campus, we hope to extend a helping hand to a defenseless child and a mother in crisis,” said Ocala Fire Chief Shane Alexander.
Kelsey is passionate about the program ever since a brutal attack on a 17-year-old girl years ago.
Kelsey said, “This 17-year-old pressed charges against the man who had raped her and he was arrested and he was charged and that wasn’t the worst of it, six weeks later she finds out she was pregnant.”
Kelsey said the teen was hidden for the rest of her pregnancy before giving birth in April of 1973.
“She abandoned her child two hours after that child was born. That child was me,” Kelsey said.
If you are a mother in crisis and considering surrounding a newborn and wish to speak to a trained professional about surrendering a newborn – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – contact the National Safe Haven Crisis Line at 1-866-99BABY1 (1-866-992-2291).
The SHBB will be available for public use 24 hours a day, seven days a week.