Elissa Davey has been nominated for the 2016 Women of Worth Honoree for her work with the unclaimed babies.
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Elissa Davey started Garden of Innocence when she read an article in 1998 about a baby found in the trash. After asking the local coroner, for her own peace of mind, about what would happen to that baby, Elissa was informed that the child would go into an unmarked grave if he or she was not claimed. She asked the coroner, “How do you claim a baby that’s not yours?” To which he responded, “Show me you have a dignified place to put him.”
The Garden buried its first baby, Adam, in 1999 and soon discovered that there are many abandoned babies and children who do not have families to provide them a proper funeral and finish their journey. Garden of Innocence provides personalized, dignified burials for abandoned and unidentified children (up to age eight), many who have passed away in area hospitals with their bodies never claimed by their parents. With the organization’s volunteers, she has trained nationwide, working with coroners’ offices to claim the bodies and partner with cemeteries and mortuaries to give each child a resting place with their name on the lawn and a final goodbye attended by strangers that cared. Each Garden has 16 positions that need to be filled to bury a child and for numerous volunteers needed. Davey works with local cemeteries to ask if they will donate areas with space for at least 50 children with room to expand. She involves the Boy Scouts to build their caskets as their Eagle Scout project and receives urns from woodworkers across America.