BELEN—Nearly three months after the Safe Haven Baby Box was installed at the Belen fire station, it’s being credited with saving a baby.  

Belen Mayor Robert Noblin and Fire Chief Charles Cox confirmed to the News-Bulletin the first surrender occurred in the Baby Box at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 6. 

Both Noblin and Cox said they couldn’t comment further until a scheduled press conference at 4 p.m. Wednesday, after the News-Bulletin deadline. (Visit for an updated story.) 

When asked why they couldn’t comment on the surrender, both Noblin and Cox told the News-Bulletin­ the city’s contract with Safe Haven stipulates they can’t comment until after the company sends out a press release. The newspaper has filed an Inspections of Public Records Act request to the city for the contract.   

The Baby Box in Belen was dedicated on Oct. 24, 2023, about a year and a half after residents began raising money for the project. The box is located at the north east corner of the main fire station on North Fifth Street. 

In March 2022, Stephanie Guerrero and Margaret Ridley presented their idea to the Belen City Council after a teenager in Hobbs was arrested for throwing her newborn baby into a trash bin.  

Guerrero, who is the married to Pastor David Guerrero of First Baptist Church of Belen, and Ridley rallied church and community members, raising $17,979 for the project.  

Along with Belen and Hobbs, there are Safe Haven Baby Boxes in Carlsbad and Espanola.  

The box is designed to prevent infant abandonment as it gives parents who feel they can’t care for their newborns a safe place to anonymously surrender the baby. 

In New Mexico, parents can relinquish a child at a hospital, fire or police station within 90 days of birth without penalty. New Mexico is one of only 14 states that also allows infant surrender using a Baby Box; surrenders in all other states must be done face-to-face to be considered legal. 

The city received $10,000 from the state for the project after lawmakers passed legislation that set aside $330,000 — enough to fund a Baby Box in each of the state’s 33 counties. 

The city council approved a memorandum of agreement with the First Baptist Church of Belen that the church would pay the $300 annual fee to Safe Haven, as well as the $500 renewal fee due every five years. 

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Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin.
She is a native of the city of Belen, beginning her journalism career at the News-Bulletin in 1998 as the crime and courts reporter. During her time at the paper, Clara has won numerous awards for her writing, photography and typography and design both from the National Newspaper Association and the New Mexico Press Association.