Heavenly Mimi, Inc. is a nonprofit organization in Dallas, Texas that offers financial assistance to cancer patients and their families who need help covering ancillary expenses. We provide direct support to cover specific items, e.g., prescription medication, medical co-payments, transportation to and from treatment locations, and overnight lodging near treatment facilities.
Heavenly Mimi, Inc. was created in memory of Marilyn La Porta, who fought valiantly throughout her battle with cancer. Her daughter, founder Allison Byrd-Haley, was also inspired by her own experiences as a single parent of a cancer patient. Her son is a 17-year cancer survivor, but Allison has never forgotten how daunting the situation was, for her own family and others around her. Even when the ultimate outcome is remission and recovery, the financial and logistical challenges can be overwhelming and long after the disease is vanquished, some families struggle to recover their footing.
To “Make A Difference” in the lives of cancer patients by researching for a cure and to provide financial assistance with screenings for early detection. We want to help when there is a need with certain expenses that occur along the cancer journey.
As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Heavenly Mimi depends on funding from individual donors, foundations, corporations, and sponsorships at fundraising events.
Heavenly Mimi is a Nonprofit organization that follows a formal structure of advisors and board members that have been put in place to ensure Heavenly Mimi remains a prominent, successful, and efficient organization that continues to be consistent in how individuals and their families are assisted.
Allison Byrd-Haley has taken on various rolls in health care for the past 20 years. She has volunteered for different projects in the community to make a difference. The nonprofit, Heavenly Mimi, was started in memory of her mom who lost her battle with cancer in 2011. Her goal is to help those that are diagnosed with cancer who battle with the financial hardships of cancer treatments. Allison understands about having a financial hardship herself because of her personal experience with it in 1998 with her son’s diagnosis with cancer. Allison wants to help those that are in the situation that she was in at one time in her life. She strives every day to empower those she comes into contact with.
The American Cancer Society advises planning for expenses that might not be covered by insurance, and mentions a long list of costs (provider visits, lab tests, clinic visits for treatments, procedures for diagnosis and/or treatment, imaging tests, radiation treatments, drug costs, hospital stays, surgery and home care). These are the costs that are more visible and obvious to anticipate. The real peril for many households lies in the “hidden costs” of cancer: expenses of daily living that increase during long-term illness and treatment. For instance, traveling 20 miles to a radiation facility every day means spending more on gasoline and parking. A weekly appointment for chemotherapy may require extra childcare. Depending on the location of the treatment center, overnight lodging may be required. At the same time, a patient’s treatment schedule may force cutting back on work hours so less money is coming in. And depending on the situation, costs may arise for professional guidance on legal or financial issues.
The situation can become precarious for any household, even one that starts out with relatively stable finances and robust health insurance. For low-income families that have less security and/or sparser insurance coverage to begin with, the outlook is typically much bleaker. Even relatively small expenses can easily exceed any cushion that exists in the weekly or monthly budget, forcing people to choose between filling a prescription and paying the electric bill. This is where Heavenly Mimi steps in, offering specific assistance to those in need as a way of making the whole experience less stressful
Heavenly Mimi strives to make a big difference in cancer patients’ lives by helping them in small ways. The results are immediate and material: covering the cost of a prescription the patient otherwise cannot afford; paying for overnight lodging near a hospital or treatment center; paying an unexpected lab fee or co-payment that was not covered by insurance; or paying an overdue utility bill to prevent disconnection. Even when the dollar amount is relatively small—especially compared to the overall economics of cancer treatment—the assistance can have profound benefits in terms of alleviating stress for the patient and/or their family. Examples of expenses that we assist with are as follows:
- Mammogram expenses
- Gas Cards
- Hotel Expenses
- Medication Costs
- Medical Bills
Implementation and Outcome Measurements
Heavenly Mimi uses a very simple model for aiding people who have received a cancer diagnosis and are undergoing treatment. Case managers at two local hospitals refer our clients to us and so have already been vetted with respect to genuine need. Each client submits an application indicating his or her specific need. An individual may only apply once in a calendar year.
If Heavenly Mimi has the funds to meet the entire need, then payment is made directly to the merchant or vendor, e.g., pharmacy or utility company; or the client receives a transit card, gasoline card, or other non-cash forms of payment. These measures ensure the funds are used exclusively for the specific need stated on the application. If the specific need exceeds the amount that Heavenly Mimi can provide, then the application is turned down.
Since beginning this grant program in September 2015, Heavenly Mimi has received 20 referrals and could aid 13. Each of those received $100 or less, $100 being the maximum the organization could afford while it was completely self-funded.
Given additional support obtained through grants and independent fundraising efforts, Heavenly Mimi plans to expand its scope of operations to reach more people in need. Having intentionally kept a low profile initially, one step will be to publicize the program via case workers at multiple hospitals. In addition, the maximum amount of aid available will be increased to $500 for a limited number of cases each year.
With such a simple and direct model, evaluation will be straightforward, a matter of logging specific needs that are met, case by case.