“What he has done in 11 years is amazing,” he adds. “He is one guy with a passion and commitment and conveying that to get others to buy in.”
Last month, Jaccard led another important victory. New York State laws had allowed local agencies to still go after a mother who gave up her infant. The new law, pushed through by the tireless efforts of Jaccard, now allows women to give up her child with no questions asked and be immune from prosecution for up to 30 days of the child’s birth.
Yet as awareness of the program grows, so do the calls for help.
Last year, the New York Children of Hope/Baby Safe Haven hotline received 2,115 calls, aided 121 birth mothers making parenting plans, 12 adoption plans (through licensed agencies), 13 relinquishments in the state and buried three newborn victims of neonaticide.
Jaccard’s fight has been a long and difficult one, filled with a sense of accomplishment as well as a sense of frustration.
“The fact so many newborn infants have been adopted to loving families and I have been invited to their confirmations, baptisms…and then to have to baptize the baby that has been victim to neonaticide knowing that the child could have been adopted by a loving family is heart wrenching,” he says. “I get a knot in my stomach thinking that this child could have survived had the mother called and relinquished the baby anonymously to us.”
“He still cries when he gets the baby, or even when he talks about it,” says Fusco.
One of the worst experiences for Jaccard was the discovery of Baby Michael Hope, a newborn abandoned in a Hempstead golf course in 2006. A dog had eaten part of the baby and dragged his body into the street, where the child was run over several times by passing motorists.
“Baby Michael’s death was the most difficult,” says Jaccard. “It was devastating for all of us because the baby was run over and squished in the roadway. People ran over it because they didn’t know what it was. That was an unbelievably difficult one to handle.”
The baby was named Michael after St. Michael, the patron saint of police.
A member of the American Spirit Motorcycle Club adopted Michael, and every year on the anniversary of the child’s death, the group rides to his grave and leaves flowers.
“They consider him to be part of the American Spirit family,” says Jaccard.
Other motorcycle clubs also offer support and services to Children of Hope/Baby Safe Haven. The national Guardians Of The Children is dedicated to recognizing and reacting to child abuse, educating the public to do the same, and serve as advocates of strength and stability to families in crisis. The Blue Knights International Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club is another. So is the independent biker group retired Hempstead Police Officer John Kelly belongs to—consisting of riders who are either active or retired members of law enforcement.
According to Kelly: “We felt, as Timmy did, that there was no one to speak up for the kids. They are young and scared and don’t know what to do. They can panic easily and unfortunately, in their mind, their only chance is to dispose of the body. Everyone deserves a chance.
“Being cops, we see so much of the bad side that this keeps your faith going when you can do something good for people and make a difference,” Kelly adds.
Joseph Clabby, a retired New York City police detective and president of Bellmore-based security firm Corporate Loss Prevention Associates, also provides strong support to Safe Haven, including trucks and manpower, says Jaccard.
“I have a daughter, I understand children, how precious they are to us,” explains Clabby. “I hear stories of young mothers who are confused, not knowing what to do and getting into the panic mode. At least they have another option, a place to go, to lean on somebody that can walk them through. They have options. I think it is a win-win approach.”
Clabby adds that along with other efforts, he gets a lot of his employees to volunteer: “This is one cause that really tugs on my heart. I just feel good about it.”
Local real estate brokers Ray and Susan Kurz also support Save Haven, and, they say, it makes it even more meaningful when you get to see the results of the group’s work.
“When you go to a fundraiser, all you see is little kids running around,” says Ray, also a retired Nassau County police detective. “Most of them have been adopted.”
“[Jaccard is] an angel walking on Earth,” says Fusco. “I truly believe that. It is not the religion; he is a deeply spiritual man committed to life.”
Nassau County Police Benevolent Association President James Carver agrees: “Tim is doing God’s work, and he is going to get a first-class seat up to heaven.”
Jaccard and his volunteers are making a difference. When he first embarked on his mission, New York was averaging 16 dead babies a year, he explains. Thomas John—the newborn discovered crushed and frozen solid in the Yaphank dump—has been the only victim so far this year in the entire state.
For Jaccard, the devastation of burying a young child is made bearable only by the satisfaction of saving others’ lives—and that figure, Jaccard says, currently numbers in the thousands.
“It is a wonderful, fantastic feeling,” he says. “I think of the 2,850 babies that are alive today, that are adopted and in families throughout the United States. How do we know? They might grow up solving the problem of DNA and have a cure for cancer, might become the next Nobel Peace Prize winner… There’s good, good families and good, good couples raising these children and giving them life that they would not have had.
“Every single child that we’ve buried with full honors has miraculously saved another child because of the publicity,” he explains.
To him, each baby discovered is a tiny miracle. About Thomas John’s discovery, Jaccard says:
“What are the chances that some man carrying a 5,000-pound cube of garbage on the back of a tractor trailer just happens to say, ‘That looks funny,’ and takes the block off and puts it back down on the ground, gets out of the forklift and goes up and looks?” he asks. “I mean, what are the chances of that? To me, there’s divine intervention somewhere along the way.”
With additional reporting by Spencer Rumsey and Timothy Bolger.
AMT Children of Hope Foundation/Baby Safe Haven has three hotlines. Its New York State hotline is 877-796-HOPE (4673). Its Massachusetts hotline is 866-814-7233. Its Ohio (national) hotline is 888-510-BABY (2229).