Photo © Courtesy of A Safe Haven for Newborns
By Gina M. Pérez
Today, 348 newborns are in caring homes and are reaching for their dreams because of the work and devotion of one man—Nick Silverio. His commitment and dedication to helping those that cannot help themselves is his passion. Nick has made it his life’s mission to be there for the most defenseless and vulnerable of all—the newborn.
Safe Haven for Newborns was born late one night, 21 years ago, as Nick was browsing through a magazine and an article on infant abandonment caught his attention. He had been searching for something he could do to honor his late wife, Gloria, who had died in a car accident caused by a speeding driver. Although they never had children of their own, they both loved children, and he knew that this was what he was meant to do.
After some research, he discovered there was no program that these scared young girls could turn to for help, and in a state of panic and believing they had no other recourse, they would abandon their newborn in unsafe places; more often than not, culminating in the infant’s demise.
He knew what he needed to do. He would establish a nonprofit that would provide support and guidance to expectant mothers before giving birth. Although he had no experience setting up a nonprofit, he was determined to establish a foundation that would help pregnant girls who could not keep their newborns. The Foundation would bear his wife’s name.
A business owner all his life, Nick closed his successful IT business and founded the Gloria M. Silverio Foundation 501(c)3; its only program would be A Safe Haven for Newborns, helping the mother-to-be by providing her with the resources needed to make an informed decision regarding her and her unborn child. He used his personal savings to fund and establish the Foundation and converted his existing office space into the Foundation’s offices. And this was just the start of what he needed to do.
Photos © Courtesy of A Safe Haven of Newborns
Working in Partnership
Nick partnered with local hospitals, Fire, and EMS stations to educate them on the process to receive the surrendered newborn. He also built a network of agencies that would provide help and guidance, established a 24/7 multilingual confidential helpline, and created a web-based curriculum used by hospitals and first responders. Nick is continuously reaching out to the community by producing public service announcements and ad campaigns, reaching out through social media, visiting high schools, and attending community events. He also created a Community Service App for students that meets the criteria for students to fulfill their community service hours and help spread the message.
Crossing State Lines
Today, through a grassroots approach and public awareness efforts, A Safe Haven for Newborns is saving lives across all 67 Florida counties and far beyond state lines. Its success in addressing infant abandonment has been recognized in other states and countries. Nick has helped set up similar programs in Kansas and Missouri and the country of Panama and is currently collaborating with other states. He also has received inquiries from South Africa and Germany and will be working with them, providing the information they will need to create a similar program.
In these first 21 years, Safe Haven has helped over 5,000 women in distress, assisted five women to reclaim their parental rights. Because of Safe Haven for Newborns, 348 couples are now a family.
Thanks to the generosity of the Foundation’s supporters and the four annual events organized to raise funds, Safe Haven is able to provide helpful services and peace of mind to expectant mothers. Help is just a phone call away by calling the confidential 24/7 multilingual referral helpline. More often than not, A Safe Haven for Newborns is the expectant mother’s only recourse and their safety net.
They offer distressed pregnant women assistance when they are faced with making decisions that will impact their lives and that of their unborn child. Some resources that Safe Haven for Newborns offers include referral to counseling, parenting services, health-related issues, shelter, baby items, and confidentially placing their newborn at a Safe Haven location. All the services are offered at no charge to her and no questions asked.
Together with a group of volunteers, Nick organizes the four annual events to raise funds for Safe Haven for
Newborns—the gala, a 5K walk/run, a golf tournament, and a virtual telethon.
Even in 2020, when the world was in lockdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nick continued his life-saving mission. He continued going to the office to work on behalf of the newborn. Nick can be found in his office working—even on holidays. Phone in hand, he is always available when the call comes in and on the other end of the telephone is a scared young pregnant girl looking for help.
Mark Twain once said, “the two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.” Nick found his “why” in A Safe Haven for Newborns.
Lives are being saved due to the strong Safe Haven alliance and partnerships with hospitals and Fire and EMS stations working to receive a Safe Haven Baby, coupled with protecting the anonymity of the parent(s) as the law allows.