MIAMI (CBSMiami) - When Nick Silverio lost his beloved partner to a tragic car accident in 1999, he knew he had to keep her memory alive.
"Gloria was a loving person. She loved people, she loved children, and everybody was a friend. She helped the elderly, she helped children. My wife and I were married for 32 years but we didn't have any children, we had two miscarriages," he said.
After she died, one day an article on infant abandonment called out to Silverio and he vowed to help as many babies and women in desperate need as he could in Gloria's memory.
The information technology professional set out on a mission and told the people nearest to him what they were going to do.
"I said, 'we are going to save babies from being abandoned,' and that was 330 babies ago," said Silverio.
He started the Gloria M. Silverio Foundation and quickly networked to get 'A Safe Haven for Newborns' signage created and placed at fire stations and hospitals all across Florida. The signs alert new mothers to their legal right to place a newborn in the care of these professionals anonymously with no questions asked.
With help from state agencies and donations, the signs were made by state prisoners and provided at no cost to the facilities.
"We have a 24/7 hotline in English, Spanish, and Creole. We get about 2000 calls a year roughly. We've gotten calls from girls as young as 13 and old as 41. Our goal is to help them keep their baby," said Silverio.
The hotline has grown into helping pregnant girls and women along with mothers in crisis or need covering a wide variety of issues.
Some of the calls will stay with him forever.
There was one who was seven months pregnant. She was going to be kicked out of where she was living and was going to be homeless. Another was a college student who called from the dorm.
"She just had the baby in the dorm, we could hear the baby crying," said Silverio.
The volunteers staff the hotline and direct each caller to the appropriate services available, keeping moms healthy, united with the baby if possible, or directing them to adoption.
However, it is not an adoption agency, it's important to note.
"We listen, and we make sure we understand what the needs are and we provide that," said Silverio.
They have grown into helping 5,000 pregnant girls and women or mothers in crisis or need covering a wide variety of issues.
Silverio dedicates his life to this cause, he has even driven a woman in labor to the hospital himself, and there are the babies – like Kristopher - who forever call him 'Uncle Nick.'
"We met him when he was five days old, he was left with me, we don't encourage that but that was the circumstance," he said.
Kristopher is now one of the ambassadors for the organization and shares his story as a testament to its success.
Now in its 20th year, the nationally recognized nonprofit is hosting its first-ever virtual telethon to raise awareness and funds.
For more information, please visit their website here.
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