Monica Kelsey, a Paulding native, is a force to be reckoned with. She is the founder and CEO of Safe Haven Baby Box.

Safe Haven Baby Box is a non-profit organization that installs baby boxes in fire departments and hospitals. These boxes are a means for mothers of newborn babies to adhere to the Safe Haven Laws and surrender their baby safely.

Kelsey is passionate about the Safe Haven Law. She firmly believes that through education and promoting the law and baby box mothers will be motivated to use the resources so that the babies can be safe and find a safe home.

She is also passionate about this because as a baby she was abandoned and surrendered. Her story is filled with strength, perseverance, love, compassion, resilience and faith.

She was adopted as a baby by an incredible couple from Paulding. “I have always known I was adopted.. my mom lost a son when he was a baby; she couldn’t understand why God would take him away from her. Later she knew the death of one son saved two little girls.” Kelsey stated. The couple also adopted another girl shortly after Kelsey, giving her a sister.

For as long as she can remember she was determined to meet her birth mom. When she was eighteen, her dad took to the courthouse and Kelsey received her birth mom’s information.

Finally, at the age of 37, Kelsey met her birth mom for the first time. Her entire life she prepared herself for this moment. The mental imagine she developed of her mom over the years helped her manage her birth mom’s absence.

The day they met was “the best and worst day”. Her birth mom shared the story of Kelsey’s conception, birth and adoption.

Kelsey was conceived from rape. Her birth mom abandoned her in the hospital immediately upon birth.

“I never felt so unwanted. I never knew how unwanted I truly was,” at that moment it became a low point in her life she stated.

“I could sit back and waller in it or embrace it and take action to change. I’ve taken the second option,” she said.

She absolutely has taken action. She has blazed a path for states to provide a resource to mothers so that babies are not dying in dumpsters or in wooded areas.

Shortly after meeting her birth mom she took a trip to South Africa with a friend, Pam Stenzel. While there she learned about a baby safe operation at a church.

It weighed on her mind, “I could not stop thinking of it,” she recalls examining it, taking measurements and learning everything possible about the baby safe.

“On the Delta flight home I hand drew a prototype,” she stated. The wheels starting turning immediately after that. The first baby box was installed at the Woodburn Fire Department in 2016.

Since then there are over 80 baby boxes installed throughout Indiana, Ohio, Arizona and Arkansas.

Baby boxes are exclusively installed in fire departments and hospitals because Kelsey knows that the best care a baby can receive is in the hands of a medical professional or a first responder.

The baby boxes aren’t simply boxes that you set a baby in. They are designed to ensure that the baby is able to breathe and remain safe until rescued by a first responder or medical professional.

The baby boxes also have alarms that activate when a baby is placed in the box. Once the door to the box is shut it locks so that the baby cannot be removed.

The box is temperature controlled so that baby remains at a safe temperature.

The baby is then taken out by a medical professional or first responder and treated accordingly or driven to the nearest hospital.

Not only does Safe Haven Baby Boxes provide a safe place for surrendered babies, it offers free hot line to distressed mothers. Two licensed counselors answer all calls. If they are unavailable the calls go to Kelsey.

Above all else Kelsey wants everyone to be educated about the Safe Haven Law and strives to emphasize the importance of anonymity. She understands that, “mothers love their babies and want them alive.”

Before the Safe Haven Law was passed and baby boxes were installed mother’s were prosecuted for abandoning their babies. Kelsey knew that needed to change and will continue to fight for continued change.

Kelsey will also be speaking at the upcoming Hands of Hope Pregnancy Center banquet.

The event will take place on Oct. 8 from 5:30-8 p.m. To reserve a $20 ticket, call or text 419-670-3159.