Central Bank donates $20,000 toward Safe Haven Baby Box project

Published 2:27 pm Thursday, December 21, 2023

As previously reported by the Sun, the Winchester City Commission has decided to go forth with plans to install Safe Haven Baby Boxes.

On Thursday, Dec. 21st, they received a boost that will help the process further.

Central Bank donated $20,000 toward installing a Safe Haven Baby Box at Fire Station 1 of the Winchester Fire Department, located at 44 North Maple Street.

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The occasion was marked with attendance by several local luminaries, including Winchester Mayor JoEllen Reed, City Manager Mike Flynn, Clark County Public Schools Superintendent Dustin Howard, Clark County Public Health Director Becky Kissick, and Winchester Fire Department Chief Chris Whiteley.

“We all do give back”, said Jeff Fultz, the market president for Central Bank. “When you make profits and put them back in the community, that is very important.”

Safe Haven Baby Boxes, which became legal in Kentucky in 2021 after Gov. Andy Beshear signed House Bill 155, can be installed in hospitals, fire stations or other locations.

They serve as a way to protect the lives of newborns who might otherwise be abandoned.

When they’re placed into a Safe Haven Baby Box, an alarm sounds, alerting 911 and signaling to first responders that a child is inside the heavily protected and secure box.

Proving that people of any age can make an impact, the idea was first pitched to Mayor Reed by Makayla Lopez, a junior at George Rogers Clark High School.

While at home during the summer, she acknowledged being motivated to take action after hearing about such developments in Campbell County.

“I was [thinking], ‘Maybe I should just email the mayor’”, said Lopez, who is taking courses in nursing and childhood development through GRC’s Academic and Career Pathways program. “I just happened to email her one day, and here we [now] are.”

On Thursday, staff members from Central Bank were present.

Specifically, those who attended were joined by Fultz, Chief Lending Officer Bo Henry, AVP Commercial Lending Officer Erica Parks, Consumer Mortgage Manager Lisa Earlywine, and CEO Luther Deaton Jr.

Deaton, who also serves as chairman and president, is a long-time friend and ally of Reed.

“[He is] a man with a big heart. [I] told him what we were considering doing in Winchester. He said, ‘Let me know. I’ll be [helpful] in some way when you’re ready”, Reed said. “When we got to the point [that] we were ready, I went back to Luther, and I said, ‘We’re ready.’ He said, ‘We’re in, and we’re in for the whole $20,000.’”

Station 1 will soon undergo renovations and create a spot for the Safe Haven Baby Box.

“The actual wall has to be cut into to put in the Baby Box. It has to be wired so when the mother places the baby in that box, it goes into a thematically controlled box”, Mayor Reed added. “The firefighter immediately comes out, picks the baby up, puts [the baby] into the ambulance, and [they’re] transported to Clark Regional Medical Center to be assessed,” Reed added.

While much development has occurred to get to this point, Reed asserts that it was worth any sacrifice.

“If we as a community save one child, we’ve done our job, but we don’t want it to end there,” she said. “We want to save child after child.”