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.
I first learned about The Davies Project from my home nurse. She told us all about it and thought we'd be a perfect match. Once I looked it over online, my nurse helped us set it all up and start our first ride.
Both The Davies Project and drivers William & Kathy have been beyond wonderful!
I honestly don't know what I would do without The Davies Project. It would have been unbelievably hard to have a healthy pregnancy for us. I was considered a high risk pregnancy so getting to and from 2 different appointments a week would have never been manageable. I would never have been able to afford that many cab rides! Being able to make every appointment kept my baby and me safe throughout the 9 months.
Now I have a perfectly healthy baby boy who couldn't be cuter!! I'm so blessed we were able to find this service. I will never be able to repay them for what they have done for me and my perfect baby. I hope they continue to help mothers during their pregnancy as they helped me.
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
I am a mother of one baby girl. Her name is Azyahnna Denise and she turned 1 on October 31st.
The Davies Project has been very, very near to my heart especially this past year. It's been a rough year for my daughter and I. Azyahnna was born with a birth injury called brachial plexus which is when babies are basically born with either a stretch or a tear to some of their nerves for being large babies. They either get stuck in the birth canal or have to be cut out. So she has had a very, very rough time.
Leaving the hospital I knew that she would have a number of appointments. I wasn't sure how I was going to get her there but again we were blessed to have The Davies Project.
I found out about The Davies Project through the previous coordinator, Dionta Brown. He came to Hannah's House which is a maternity shelter that I was living in at the time. He got myself, as well as all the other women, signed up for rides to prenatal appointments which was very much appreciated because a lot of those women, like myself, would not have made some of those appointments, had we not had The Davies Project volunteers.
This brings me to some experiences I had with drivers. Mr. Nestell took me to a prenatal appointment but they took me straight to labor and delivery. He was waiting in the lounge and when I finally could, I called him to let him know there was a baby on board!
To this day he still picks up our rides and opens his heart to my family. He has watched my daughter grow throughout this year and we really appreciate him as well as a number of drivers.
Miss Kathy has also opened her heart to my family and it has turned into more than a drive. She helped to bless us with a table. I didn't have a table in my new house to sit down and eat and she opened her heart and blessed us with that. Something that would seem so small to everyone else is so big to me and my family.
She picks up rides for us, she's taking us to Ann Arbor tomorrow - an appointment that I thought I would have to cancel. And I don't have to.
We've always been greeted by smiling faces when it comes to The Davies Project volunteers. Azyahnna has not missed any appointments due to transportation since she was born just over a year ago.
We are very, very thankful for The Davies Project and its volunteers. I really don't know what we would do without you and it is my hope that this wonderful organization can be continuously supported in this community because it's needed for the children.
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
LaSean Thompson, parent representative on The Davies Project board, talked about her first ride with The Davies Project.
I remember our first ride with The Davies Project. Vergil was our volunteer driver. I had my son, who was 8 months old, and my daughter, who was 3 years old, and I was grabbing diapers, wipes, bottles, formula, changes of clothes, and stuff for a 3 year old to do. It was a crazy house. I felt overwhelmed. When Vergil came to my door, he said "Hello I'm Vergil, with The Davies Project. I will be your driver for today. Can I help you with anything?"
At that moment I was lost for words. No one had asked me if I needed help in a long time. Everything was focused around the care and needs of my son. I was so use to doing it by myself. It felt so nice to have someone ask me, "Can I help you?" Our family will always be grateful for TDP and their many volunteer drivers like Vergil.
I would like to thank all The Davies Project volunteers for being the epitome of More Than Just a Ride.
The thing I cherished the most is the companionship that each volunteer gives. When you are sitting in that waiting area and you're looking around at all the other families, sometimes you find yourself a little discouraged and filled with negative thoughts - "Will this treatment work?" or "What if it doesn't? Then what?"
Volunteer drivers that sit with you provide an escape from those negative feelings. It is a great feeling to have someone to talk to. Someone to help turn those negatives into positives.