On Angels' Wings
Springfield, Missouri (KC, St. Louis)
In 2008, my precious first born came into the world. A month later, I came across an organization that provided professional pictures for families who lost an infant during childbirth, capturing those fleeting moments when they were all together before they had to let go completely.
It changed my life. There I was, holding my perfectly healthy newborn son, and these families weren’t able to take their beloved child home. My heart ached for them in a way I can’t fully describe, and thus began my journey as a bereavement photographer.
Over the next few years, I would provide images for families who lost an infant child, but the organization I worked with at the time did nothing more. Again, my heart ached to love and support these families beyond the photos provided, to journey with them through healing too.
In 2013, I did a photo session for 7 month old Logan who was battling spinal muscular atrophy, a terminal genetic disorder where his muscles slowly deteriorated. I had helped so many families to capture fleeting moments of a limited time together – but nothing had quite touched my heart the same way as Logan’s sweet laugh did. Three months later, I picked up on the warning signs that his battle with SMA was coming to an end. I also had the amazing honor of taking Logan’s pictures with his family just six days before he passed in his momma’s arms at just 10 months old.
And it was then, after years of feeling a calling on my heart but waiting on God’s timing, that I felt His nudge and release. In July 2013, I started On Angels’ Wings, providing free professional photographs and support for families whose child has a terminal risk diagnosis, endures an extended NICU stay, or is lost at birth. In 2014, the organization had five volunteer photographers and provided 41 sessions in Springfield, Missouri. That number has grown to over 200 sessions and nearly 60 volunteer photographers in 2019, serving multiple cities in the state.
Happily married for nearly 20 years, my husband is my biggest supporter and encourager. These days, in addition to serving as the president/CEO of On Angels’ Wings, I’m homeschooling our two 2e boys, working part time as associate editor for a publishing company, and taking photos for some amazing photography clients.
This work is a ministry and a mission field. It is my heart, passion, and true calling. It is evident that the Lord’s hand is on this organization as it continues to grow and reach more families in Missouri. We’re working diligently to obtain grant funding to continue expanding our service areas and the services we provide – someday we’d even like to provide services in adjoining states.
Currently, my workload as the president/CEO of the organization continues to increase due to our expanding services, but the organization is years away from providing compensation for my time. As such, I must continue to work a part time job on top of my duties for On Angels’ Wings in order to help support our family.
It has been my vision from the start to eventually work on this ministry full time. We are at a crossroads with the organization, in that it cannot continue growing unless I give more of my time, and I cannot give more of my time while I have a part-time job. That is why, through partnership with The Sending Project, I am working to raise support that will supplement my salary enough that I can resign from my job and fully dedicate my work time to On Angels’ Wings.
How To Partner With Us
Would you consider partnering alongside me as the work of this ministry is taken to the next level? You can contribute with a monthly commitment or a one-time donation. Those that do so will be added to a private Facebook group and/or email list where I will provide updates to the organization’s progress, as well as prayer requests for our recipient families and my own family along this journey.
I'm aware of what a blessing it is to know your purpose and I don't take that for granted. I want to be able to give this ministry -- this passion and calling -- the dedication it deserves. Right now, that happens only through the support of others. Please consider partnering with me to serve hurting parents in our communities. Wouldn't it be amazing if, because of your support, I'm able to give more time to this organization and we see our dream of becoming a national service come to fruition one day? That's the hope.
On Angel's Wings
On Angels' Wings seeks to encourage hope in families faced with the possibility of child loss by celebrating their children's lives through free photographs and support.
Since its inception in July of 2013, On Angels’ Wings (OAW) has provided over 600 families (currently 180-200 families annually) with priceless memories. Services are predominantly provided in Springfield and St. Louis, but OAW also has photographers in Joplin, Kansas City, Rolla and other rural towns in Southwest Missouri.
In addition to providing photographs, OAW makes it a top priority to help its recipient families cope with the struggles that come with a child that is sick or the loss of a child. The organization sends birthday gifts to recipient children every year, as well as annual loss memorial gifts to families.
In 2020, our Support Coordinator and I participated in extensive training and are now both Advanced Certified Specialists in the Grief Recovery Method. Over the next year, we will make a dedicated effort to expand our support services, providing individualized and group support to our recipients using the GRM program.
Every June, On Angels’ Wings hosts the Making Memories Day carnival that is open to the community, but free for OAW recipients to attend. The event consists of carnival booths by local businesses, live performances, princesses and superheroes, bounce houses and more. The carnival event is kicked off with a recipient gathering and butterfly release in honor of children still fighting and those who have passed. It is important to the OAW board that recipients feel loved and cared for during the entirety of their journey.
Connect with Michelle
To financially partner with Michelle, please click the "DONATE" button below. To partner with Michelle in other ways, you can connect with her through the email, phone, website, or social media links above.