I (Anthony Crosby) have spent a fair amount of time over the past week or so thinking about the reality of people’s stories. It can be tempting only to highlight the ones that are super uplifting or play out like a Hollywood movie script. However, people’s testimonies can include as many lows as they do highs. Sometimes, individuals go through heartbreaking trials resulting in them trying to find a sliver of hope to hold onto for the sake of enduring until the next day. When our neighbors do experience these seasons, I hope that some of us might feel inclined to come alongside them and offer care and support. If you want to see an example of what this kind of encouragement looks like, be sure to keep reading because today’s guest has lived this out in so many ways.
This week, we’re joined by Angela West. This Arizona native moved to Elko to act as the COO of both the Iron Horse RV Resort and Elko’s Hilton Garden Inn; she is also the event chair for our area’s Relay for Life event. Angela is a very busy and involved woman, so we’re thankful she made the time to sit down and chat with us!
Angela, to kick off this conversation, can you please talk to us a little bit about how you came to oversee so many prominent operations? How did you get to where you are today?
“I remember having a teacher in high school who taught accounting, but he had no clue what he was doing. We used this book that was designed to be self-paced, so you could use it to teach yourself accounting; this book was supposed to get us through the entire semester. On the fifth or sixth day of the semester, I went up to the front of the class and handed my teacher the book. He taught I had a question, but I was actually done with the entire thing! So, for the remaining six weeks of the semester, I helped the other kids in the class get through their books. It was after that I knew accounting was going to be my field. I went to Arizona State University and got my accounting degree.”
“After graduating, I worked for some amazing companies. I worked for Twentieth Century Fox when they had their animation studio and were completing Anastasia and Titan A.E. The studio didn’t continue working out of the Phoenix area, so I went got into hotel accounting and eventually met the owners of the Elko Hilton Garden Inn property. In 2004, I went to work for them; I ran multiple companies for them, including the Hilton Garden Inn. I was a part of the whole design and build of Iron Horse RV; that was fun. I ran all the Elko businesses, from Phoenix; however, in September of 2016, we lost the hotel’s GM, so I told the owners I would come and run things in Elko.”
Thank you, Angela. Now, let’s talk about Elko, and to a more significant degree, Nevada, for a second because although you’re heavily involved with this community, you’re still an Arizona woman at heart; which is understandable! So, what have been some of your observations of living in our community for the past few years?
“Yes, I was born and raised as a big city girl; when I wanted to go shopping I just had to decide which of the several malls I wanted to go visit. When I came to Elko, the big thing I noticed most was the fact that it is more of a community here. In a bigger city, you won’t just run into people you know every day; you could go months going to places in Phoenix without bumping into somebody you knew. There is more of a tight-knit family feel here in Elko. People were nice in Phoenix, but there’s a difference between nice and friendly. People here are friendly.”
“Weather-wise, I do miss my consistently sunny days. I was in my late twenties before I ever saw snow fall from the sky. The first Winter I was here, I did panic a bit having to drive around in falling snow; now it doesn’t bother me!”
Fantastic! Now, let’s talk about one of the big things you’re involved with, The American Cancer Society and Relay for Life. RFL is something we talk about a lot here at AAT, so that means we must hear from the person running the show! Angela, from where did your heart for this kind of volunteer work come, and what, specifically, does Relay for Life mean to you?
“As a child, I was always a very volunteer-driven type of person. As soon as I had a car, I was out volunteering. I was a volunteer lifeguard for many years. I got involved with child protective services and did programs with them. At one point, I would open up a facility where parents who were under supervised visitations could come and spend time with their children. I mentored quite a few young girls; I would bring them to my house and teach them how to make simple meals, budget, or put together a grocery list. I would help transition them from living in a group home setting to living on their own. I remember one girl, in particular, named Stephanie. When I met her, she was wearing all black and would not say a word. As time went on, she softened up a little bit, and when I got married, she came wearing this beautiful, pale blue dress and sang at my wedding!”
“When it comes to my involvement with the American Cancer Society, my best friend’s mom was battling cancer, so we did the Susan B. Coleman three-day event; we had a team of thirteen people, and we raised about one hundred and seventy thousand dollars. However, that event required months of training because you walked twenty miles a day for three days, so I got burned out after a couple of years. A friend told me about the American Cancer Society. I got involved with them, and in my second year with them, the gentleman who had been running the event in Glendale, Arizona asked me if I would take over.”
“During that time, my grandfather was battling lung cancer. I was a young parent, at that time, who was also trying to work, so I didn’t have a lot of extra time to see him. However, I didn’t realize how quickly cancer can take somebody. I scheduled a few days off to see him. I scheduled a Wednesday/Thursday/Friday off, but he passed away on that the Tuesday night of that week. I didn’t realize what someone’s journey was when they’re at their end of life with cancer.”
“To me, Relay for Life is about educating the community about preventative measures we can take to reduce the risk of cancer, early detection, and the services the American Cancer Society can provide the people in this town who need help. It’s also about cancer research. Many people think there’s already a cure for cancer, and the pharmaceutical companies are keeping it hush because they want to keep making money off of everything. However, that’s not the case, so advancements still need to be made to help find a cure or at least reduce the harshness of the chemo treatments, until they do. The ACS also has people who will comb through legislative documents to make sure politicians are not trying to sneak any bills through that would negatively impact a person’s ability to receive their health care treatments. They have our back, and it’s my job to have the American Cancer Society’s back.”
Finally, Angela, can you please tell us why helping and giving back to others means so much to you? Why is it important to be involved in others’ lives?
“I think we were put on Earth to help others. I think it’s selfish not to do something for either your community or other people. I feel the need to help because I realize that I could have easily been the person in need.”
“I’m a person who becomes very passionate about anything I do; I would bend over backward and do just about anything for anybody. I believe you reap what you sow, so I try and put out as much good into the world as I can.”
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See you around, Elko!