Safe Haven Baby Box installed in Winchester

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, June 20, 2024

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Just hours after an infant was successfully surrendered to a Safe Haven Baby Box in Montgomery County, Winchester had its own reason for recognition. 

On Tuesday, June 18, a Safe Haven Baby Box was officially installed just outside Station 1 of the Winchester Fire Department located at 44 N. Maple Street. 

“This program has been a long time in the making but [with] a lot of hard work on behalf of a lot of individuals,” said Winchester Fire Department Chief Chris Whiteley. 

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According to its website,, the mission of Safe Haven Baby Boxes “is to prevent illegal abandonment of newborns by raising awareness, offering a 24-hour hotline for mothers in crisis and offering the Safe Haven Baby Boxes as a last resort option for women who want to maintain complete anonymity.”

Following their legalization in Kentucky in 2021, the commonwealth has since had over 30 installations statewide. 

As for Clark County, the journey toward having a Safe Haven Baby Box installation began with a message approximately one year ago from current incoming George Rogers Clark High School senior student Makayla Lopez, who reached out to Winchester Mayor JoEllen Reed. 

“I first learned about Safe Haven Baby Boxes in my child development class,” Lopez said. “We got to learn about how the box gets built, how the training goes, and what happens once the baby gets to the hospital and gets surrendered…not only does the mother [not] suffer any consequences…but they can actually have something to rely on if they can’t take care of their child in [difficult] times.” 

Following a meeting in Lexington, where Chairman/President and CEO of Central Bank & Trust Company Luther Deaton agreed to donate $20,000, further plans were made to go forward with installation. 

Reed, a former elementary school teacher, also spoke. 

“It is a very worthy project,” she said, adding that various individuals such as the City Commission and Winchester Kiwanis Club helped contribute. “It’s a day that I’ve got cold chills over [and] a day that means so much.” 

Reed was not the only dignitary to be in attendance, as others included both Bill Wesley (R) and Ryan Dotson (R) of the Kentucky House of Representatives. 

“This is a great, anonymous option for young ladies,” Dotson said. “We have the opportunity to make a difference and to change lives.” 

Just as well, Safe Haven Baby Boxes Founder and CEO Monica Kelsey was present. 

Kelsey, a military veteran who has also worked as a firefighter and medic, came up with the idea after discovering that she had been abandoned as an infant. 

She wanted to ensure that similar circumstances could be avoided while protecting the lives of infants. 

“We want to have a box and not need it, but we don’t want to need a box and not have it…that’s why we’re putting boxes all over,” Kelsey said, noting that 241 baby boxes have now been installed nationwide. “No tax dollars came toward this…and that’s the beauty of a community saying, ‘We can do this’.” 

Near the conclusion of the ceremony, former City Commissioner Mike Flynn provided a blessing. 

“The Bible teaches us that God is the creator and sustainer of life, and in that he’s given us the opportunity to sustain life with this box,” Flynn said said. “I hope we never have to use it, but if we do use it, may the Lord bless that child.” 

Kelsey offered some final words. 

“This box is now available for women in this community and beyond,” she said. “This box offers no shame, no blame, and no names.”