Our Story

how it began How it Began

Angels of Action is the result of a passion for helping others and a desire to make a difference, especially for local children. Led by (right to left) Joni Thompson, Stephanie Woodworth, and Julie Miller, the Angels cause quickly gain momentum during the spring of 2011.

By June of that year the first food collection was held with many more scheduled. The trio was happily joined by many others who care about the health and welfare of area children.

The goal for the first year of the program is to send 150 backpacks of nutritious food home with children of need from Big Rapids Public Schools.

But this is just the beginning. As this effort transforms from a dream to a project to a community commitment there will not be a child in Mecosta County that goes hungry.


AOA Executive Board

Joni Thompson, President and CEO

As co-founder and Executive Director for Angels of Action for the past 1 ¬Ω years, Joni Thompson takes a lead role in the fight to alleviate hunger in Mecosta County. Born and raised just outside of Detroit, Joni has lived with her husband, son Luke and daughter Amanda in Mecosta County since 2009. Joni’s son Andrew lives and works downstate. She brings 20 years of Sales and Marketing experience to her role as Co-founder and Executive Director of Angels of Action. Joni has had a lifelong passion of giving back to children. She was adopted at a early age and believes in helping children. Joni dedicates her time first as a stay-at-home Mom to her son and, second, to overseeing and running the day to day operations of Backpack Blessings. She also volunteers her time at St. Peter’s Lutheran School and teaches 1st and 2nd grade Sunday School at Faith Lutheran Church.

Sue Carey, Vice President

When she became a retired business owner Sue Carey became a full time volunteer! With over 25 years expertise in small business ownership and management she feels that she is able to contribute to the success of this wonderful organization. In 1992, she was chosen to receive The Athena Award in recognition of her contributions to her community and for the mentoring of other women in business. Sue’s past board experiences include Michigan Special Olympics, Junior Achievement, Chamber of Commerce and Habitat for Humanity. She feels drawn to making a difference in young peoples lives and is passionate about doing so through Angels of Action.

Julie Miller, Treasurer

Part of the Angles of Action founding trio, Julie Miller has wanted to start a non-profit organization that would benefit children and bring awareness to the serious issue of hunger within our community for some time. Her goal is to motivate people to become involved and to realize they can have an impact on a childs life. A graduate of Central Michigan University with a business degree, she has previously worked in sales and management positions. In addition to her work with Angels of Action, Julie enjoys volunteering at St. Mary School and Church along with spending time with her family and friends.

Anita Farrar, Secretary

Anita Farrar has been a fully licensed professional counselor for 35 years and currently works along with her husband in their Livonia private practice. She has served 38 years in public education, holding the positions of teacher, counselor, department chair and administrator in Ferndale, Wayne-Westland and Birmingham public Schools. Anita grew up in the East Side of Detroit and has always lived in Michigan. She earned her B.A. In English and her M.A. in Counseling at the University of Detroit and her Education Specialist from Wayne State University. She has been married for 46 years and is the proud mother of two adult children and grandmother to three grandchildren. Anita is responsible for taking notes, writing grants and editing various publications for Angels of Action.

Michelle Barker ‚Trustee

Although Michelle Barker works full time, she is an enthusiastic volunteer who has contributed to her community in many ways over the years. After earning her associates degree in business from Ferris, she held many positions in Mecosta County and is presently the bank manager of Firstbank in Howard City. Throughout her busy career, Michelle has always found time to give back to her community by volunteering her talents on behalf of the Chamber, Leadership Mecosta, and Howard City Lions Club. She has generously donated her time in helping to produce various community events. Michelle grew up in Southern Michigan but has lived her entire married life of 22 years in Big Rapids and raised their son here. Her favorite pastimes are photography and crocheting.

Robyn Stratton ‚Trustee

Robyn Stratton grew up in Fenton, Michigan but spent most of her career in Grand Blanc, Michigan. Although she has only lived in Mecosta County since 2009, she has made a huge impact on our community in those 5 short years. Robyn currently holds an administrative position for Mecosta County. She brings a wealth of experience to our board, having spent more than 7 years working in the following non-profit arenas: Alzheimers Association, American Lung Association, and the Mecosta County Community Foundation. Robyn earned her bachelors degree at University of Michigan Flint in Health Education and her masters degree from Central Michigan University. Robyn lives in Big Rapids with her husband, Steve, and daughter. She and her husband are proud grandparents of five.

Mindy Taylor ‚Trustee

Mindy Taylor lives in Big Rapids with her husband Jim, daughter Abby and son Tyler. Leading by example, she strives to teach her children the importance of helping those in our community. Mindy volunteers for the Bulldog Bike Tour, The Angel Ride, and several other organizations that directly impact our local residents. While participating in Leadership Mecosta, Mindy learned about the mission of Angels of Action and was overwhelmed by the amount of children in our county that are food deprived. After volunteering her time to the Angels of Action Bike Ride Committee, Mindy wanted to do more to raise awareness of childhood hunger in our county by becoming an active member of the board. She grew up in Imlay City and moved to attend Central Michigan University where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Finance. Working for Mecosta County as the Finance Officer is an extremely detailed and busy job, but that attention to detail will be a great contribution toward her role on the Board.