When Miami businessman Nick Silverio lost his wife of 32 years, Gloria, in a car accident, he was devastated. At the time, he was a Godfather to 14 children, but had no children of his own as his attempts to start a family tragically ended one Christmas Eve after Gloria suffered her second difficult miscarriage. He longed to honor her memory and he discovered how to when he learned about Florida’s safe haven law meant to protect babies from being abandoned. According to the law, desperate parents can leave infants up to a week old at hospitals and fire stations no questions asked. In order to create awareness about this law and help these babies, he founded a non-profit called A Safe Haven For Babies which provided new mothers on the verge of abandoning their babies a 24-hour bilingual referral hotline. Every call can save a tiny life.
To date, Silverio and his organization has helped 206 newborns find their way to loving adoptive homes in Florida. A Safe Haven For Babies is staffed by 300 volunteers, operates in all 67 Florida counties, partnering with fire chiefs, emergency medical services and hospitals to take in infants and then move them on to adoption agencies. “It’s my purpose in life,” says Silverio who takes no salary from the non-profit and has helped frightened mothers get their babies back under the law’s 30-day grace period.
One of the children Silverio saved was 10-year-old Kristopher Terrell. When a frightened teenage mother called the hotline saying she wasn’t in a position to raise her week old baby boy and didn’t know what to do, Silverio assured her he would be over right away. He entered the frightened teens house with a baby carrier in hand, and saw her hovering over a sleeping infant clad in a blue and white jumpsuit – little Kristopher Terrell. Kristopher now lives with and is the youngest of parents Aja Iglesias-Terrell, 44, and Richard Terrell, 53. “Uncle Nick is my hero,” says Kristopher, now in the fourth-grade. “He’s the one who introduced me to my mom and dad. It’s good that he helps babies.”