After her son’s battle with cancer, Pamela Miklavcic realized that the community at-large needed to do better on behalf of families with sick children. Inspired, Miklavcic knew that more could be done to make those hard times a little easier on families like her own. She decided to do something about it – and now as the Founder and Director of The Davies Project – she and the rest of her organization does just that, every day.
The Lansing-based organization offers “non-medical care” to families in need, with an entirely new approach. The Davies Project is the first of its kind in the U.S, offering transportation to and from appointments for area families with sick children. Working with local physicians, The Davies Project is a referral-based service for its patients.
Volunteers are the driving force behind The Davies Project — no pun intended. They play an essential role in creating exceptional experiences for individuals that receive rides from the nonprofit. Volunteers undergo an extensive background check, application process and special training to help them be empathetic to the multitude of medical cases they may be assisting with; along with diversity and cultural adaptation.
“Our drivers play a phenomenal role in the lives of the families we serve,” said Miklavcic. “The most important thing they accomplish is breaking through the isolation. Many kids and their parents are trapped by the sickness. A touch with someone in community makes a world of difference.”
Miklavcic acknowledged that in the city of Lansing alone, 70 percent of individuals are paying for additional specialized health services and 60 percent of scheduled appointments go unattended. These missed appointments are a huge consideration for families with sick children, and those who may be on a tight budget, as well as an implication for the recruitment of healthcare professionals in the area.
“New doctors need to see Lansing as a place of opportunity, where they can see patients and acquire positive finances,” said Miklavcic. “It’s important for the local economy to reduce these missed appointments, as it is not only essential in terms of dollars, but also better guarantees that these kids are getting the medical attention they need right away.”
Having been initially founded in June 2012, December 2015 marked The Davies Project’s first ride and they’ve been going strong ever since. In 2015, The Davies Project provided some 280 round-trip rides to and from appointments. Their network of care stretches across mid-Michigan from Dewitt to Mason and Grand Ledge to Williamston.
The Davies Project currently has close to 30 drivers, but is always looking for more. Annually, the group provides care for nearly 60 families.
“Physicians we work with are encouraging us to expand, and we’re doing our best to do just that,” said Miklavcic. “There are so many families outside of our perimeter that need a lot of help.”
So far, The Davies Project, on track to providing 500 rides, has nearly doubled the number of round-trip rides in 2016 – in comparison to 2015, when they provided around 280 rides.
“We’re still learning about what infrastructure is needed to provide for larger areas and what challenges might come along. We want to insure that other communities can be self-sufficient with their own efforts,” said Miklavcic. “We need to remind ourselves that each child is part of Lansing’s future. We need to strengthen these families and their children to keep them intact.”
Wondering how you can help? Get started by visiting thedaviesproject.org.