On August 8, supporters of A Secret Safe Place for Newborns of Tennessee headed to the Court South Beach for a Hawaiian-themed gala fundraiser. This is the fifth year for the Lifesaver Luau, which benefits the organization’s efforts to protect at-risk newborns.
A Secret Safe Place for Newborns was founded by Shawna McConnell, Lisa
Yount and Doug Overbey in 2001, following the passage of the Safe Haven Law
after an abandoned newborn, the child of a 14-year-old-mother who had hidden her pregnancy, died of severe dehydration in a shed in Townsend. The teenaged mother was later charged with first-degree murder and placed in state custody.
Touched by the tragedy of this, McConnell and Yount, both of Blount County, were determined that no other infants would fall victim to similar circumstances. The efforts of McConnell, Yount, Tennessee State representatives Doug Overbey and Joe McCord, Former State Senator Bill Clabough, Blount County Sheriff Jim Berrong, District Attorney Generals Mike Flynn and Randy Nichols, and other legislators, resulted in the passage of Tennessee’s Safe Haven Law in June of 2001.
The law protects mothers who are unwilling or unable to care for their newborns by allowing them to surrender their babies to any hospital, community health clinic, birthing center, or walk-in clinic within 72 hours of the newborn’s birth. The baby is examined, admitted to a hospital and later placed with an adoptive family by the Department of Children’s Services. A Secret Safe Place for Newborns of Tennessee educates and builds awareness of the Safe Haven Law in order
to prevent newborn abandonment. More than 21 newborns have been surrendered in Tennessee since 2004.
At the 2009 Lifesaver Luau, families dressed in Hawaiian garb enjoyed music, swimming, a limbo diving contest, a hula-hoop contest, a silent auction, and even hula lessons with instructor Alana Keoloha Dellatan Seaton. For the first time this year, members of the YMCA Dolphins synchronized swimming team gave a demonstration. The Lifesaver Luau is one of A Secret Safe Place’s major yearly fundraisers. Other fundraising events this year have included a pancake breakfast at Applebee’s and a fundraiser day at Chili’s.
Sponsors for the Luau include Court South, Sonny’s Real Pit Bar-B-Q, B97.5, Cherokee Athletic Facility, Print Edge, Knoxville News Sentinel, Campbell Tent & Party Rentals, Blount Today, WBIR-TV, and Designsensory. Court South Beach is located at 2934 Alcoa Highway. For more information on A Secret Safe Place for Newborns, its efforts or the Lifesaver Luau, call 865-254-2208 or visit www.secretsafeplacetn.org.