When my youngest son became ill, I was lucky to have a very supportive community. Now that my son is older, I want to pay it forward, or backward -- really both. I retired from teaching last year. My husband and I have 4 children and 7 grandchildren. Our youngest son is disabled but I’m now in a position to help others as I was helped. Driving for The Davies Project has been so enjoyable. Everyone is friendly and I like visiting with the families we drive. I remember one family where I drove them to prenatal appointments quite a bit. After a while, they acquired a car so they no longer need rides from The Davies Project. While I am happy for them, I not only miss not knowing the result of their story and pregnancy but I miss the family too. Usually, I come away from each experience with a smile on my face. The Davies Project is more than just a ride - for the families and for the volunteer drivers.
Hello, I’m Verg, a Davies Project Driver.
About me: I was raised on a farm up north in Missaukee County. During World War II, I was in the Navy Air Corp. I attended Michigan State University and received my Master’s degree in 1952 and spent a challenging 37 years in the state Department of Social Services in residential programs for 12 to 18 year old delinquent youth. I was privileged to serve on the Board of Governors for the American Correctional Association, President of the National Association of Training Schools and to be the recipient of the Chief Okemos Council Silver Beaver Award in Boy Scouts.
Joining the Davies Project: I met Pam Miklavcic as we both serve on a Children’s Health Equity and Access Task Force (CHEA) organized to help MSU and Sparrow Hospital establish a Sub-Specialty Pediatric Clinic in Lansing. This CHEA effort resulted in MSU and Sparrow hiring additional pediatric physicians who live and practice in Lansing. Now Lansing area families have additional access to local pediatric sub-specialty medical care. However, many low-income families who rely on public transportation were missing 60 percent of their appointments. This is when Pam stepped up to create the Davies Project and I volunteered to be a driver.
I vividly recall one of my first Davies drives. I asked the mother if she had participated before in the Davies Project. She said “no” and then went on to describe the difficulties she experienced when she had to rely on the public bus from her address in southwest Lansing. She was so grateful for the transportation help.
Early on, my big challenge was getting the seat belt through the infant car seat opening. Once I learned to use a tie-down and pull it through, I was in business!
The opportunity to meet and serve these families through the Davies Project is not only an opportunity to give where it counts, but it gives me a good feeling of purpose and involvement at this stage (age 91) in my life.
Hi, I’m Mary Jo, the family services coordinator for The Davies Project (TDP). I coordinate the rides for families to their child’s doctor appointments. I get to be in touch with the families and TDP’s volunteer drivers on a daily basis.
I came to this job through an ad in our church bulletin from TDP, looking for help. And what a great opportunity this has turned out to be for me! The families coming to TDP for rides are some of the most kind and grateful people. And the children we drive have become so special to me. It’s fun and rewarding to get to know them all and watch them grow. And when they graduate from therapy sessions, it’s a success for us all!
Becoming a volunteer driver is easy. There’s an application to complete (you can find it here), a reference form to fill out, and we’ll do the rest of the work. Once your paperwork is processed, you’ll attend a 2 hour orientation/training session and be given all the supplies you’ll need to drive, including a car seat! You’ll be off and running at whatever speed works best in your schedule (the average drive takes 3 hours from the time you leave home until the time you return). We have drivers who drive for TDP once a month, and those that drive once every week. Whatever time you can give, we’ll find a place for you.
If you are looking for a volunteer opportunity, you may want to check out The Davies Project further. There are so many ways to become involved, but on a selfish level I hope you’ll consider being a volunteer driver. It is heartwarming to know you are helping out
a family by lessening their load just a little during an uncertain and stressful time in their child’s life. And the selfishness on my part is I’ll get to work with you! Feel free to call me anytime at (517) 899-2425. I’m happy to answer any questions you may have about becoming part of our volunteer team.
Talk to you soon!
Mary Jo Weigel
Family Services Coordinator
The Davies Project is excited to unveil its brand new logo, courtesy of Lansing-based public relations firm, Martin Waymire.
We were honored and excited to be selected as one of three organizations to receive a donation of $1,000 and free media and marketing services through the 2016 Martin Waymire Gives project. We want to express our gratitude to MW both for their generous donation and for helping us create new marketing materials that truly capture the essence and mission of The Davies Project.
Three new images will be used to help us spread the word about our services in the community. They feature bright, playful colors and type, while clearly communicating our primary mission and focus: to help provide transportation and support to children with serious health challenges. The ribbon also represents childhood cancer, a nod to Executive Director and Founder Pam Miklavcic's inspiration for creating The Davies Project: her son, Peter, who battled cancer as a young child.
We are equally thrilled with our new tagline: More than just a ride. While our central task is to provide safe and effective transportation to medical appointments for sick children, The Davies Project is also committed to providing a sense of partnership and community to those families who may feel isolated in such a challenging time. We are proud that our volunteer drivers and the families they serve are able to form friendships and lasting bonds. It is this connection and sense of community that will continue to drive our work throughout 2017 and the years to come, and we are pleased that this sentiment is reflected as a component of our new branding materials.
This Christmas week marks two years since The Davies Project drove its first child to a medical appointment in Lansing. As an organization, we have come a long way in 24 months! More than 800 rides for dozens of local children in need have been delivered and we have developed a team of more than 30 volunteer drivers that are compassionate, kind and truly enjoying the time they get to spend with our TDP families.
In today's world, where compassion and community building seem expected to take a back seat to intolerance and turning a blind eye to the needs of neighbors who may be different from us, I like to think The Davies Project stands as a beacon of hope and unity, around which mid-Michigan residents can gather and let their compassion show. You are all welcome to join us in our work.
2017 is going to be a big year for The Davies Project. It marks our move to new office space in The Armory on Marshall Street in Lansing -- where many nonprofits are housed and where TDP will be sharing office space with Big Brothers Big Sisters. It also marks the launch of a new logo for TDP (to be unveiled in the next couple of months) and a year of intensive marketing when we hope to let more and more families know about us as well as donors and new volunteers interested in joining us as drivers.
Lastly, 2017 marks the year when we expand our reach to include rides for expecting moms to prenatal care and to parents with poor access to transportation so they can spend time with their precious infants in the newborn ICU at Sparrow Hospital.
Seventeen years ago this week, when my oldest son was diagnosed with leukemia, you could never have told me he would be studying mechanical engineering in New York State in 2016 or that I would have founded an incredibly fulfilling non-profit that meets the needs of so many families in distress. Isn’t it exciting where life can lead us?
Thanks to wonderful donors and volunteers like you, we know that 2017 is going to be our best year yet! I appreciate your reading this inaugural blog of The Davies Project. I wish you all the best in 2017.
Happy New Year,
The Davies Project for Mid-Michigan Children