How a local second-chance employer is helping babies and families

CINCINNATI -- A local manufacturer dedicated to giving second chances through its hiring practices will spend this holiday season investing in firsts.

Through a partnership with the Baby Box Company, Cincinnati-based Nehemiah Manufacturing will provide newborn babies in Ohio with a safe, warm place to sleep and their parents with education about infant care.

"From hospital to home can be a scary experience, since sometimes there isn't perfect information out there, and there isn't a safe place for a baby," vice president of marketing Eric Wellinghoff said. 

Baby boxes, a Finnish innovation, are brightly decorated cardboard boxes that function as cribs. A box is delivered, along with with a firm mattress, fitted sheet and educational materials, to new and expecting mothers and is meant to serve as a guard against sleep-related infant deaths.

States including New Jersey, Ohio, Alabama and Texas have instituted baby box programs to ensure that all newborns -- especially those whose parents might not have stable housing or be able to afford a crib -- sleep soundly and safely.

Thanks to Nehemiah's partnership with the Baby Box Company, parents in Ohio will receive a sample of other infant care products the company creates with their box. 

Many Nehemiah employees know firsthand the obstacles that new parents can face when they come from a place of economic disadvantage. Before the company found them, many were considered unemployable.

"It could be drugs or alcohol, prison time, felonies," operations manager Michael Taylor said. "Everybody out here is working through those hurdles. … (We're) giving people an opportunity to get out of the situation they came to us in."

Margaret Saine, one such employee, said she had significant gaps in her work history when she came on at Nehemiah. 

"When I came here, they immediately welcomed me, offered me the job, and I felt right at home here," she said.

The company also provided resources for her to find stable housing, budget her new paycheck and pursue her education. 

"They care about your whole well-being," she said.

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