It takes an extraordinary kind of person to accept a position primarily responsible for focusing on the palliation of terminally ill patients. Ensuring not only their end of life emotional and spiritual needs are met, but also guaranteeing that annual funds are secured in order to continue the operation of the nonprofit, can be both daunting and challenging.
Meet Angel Elias.
Executive Director of the Mission Hospice Society.
Everyday, Angel establishes and implements goals for hospice service and drives the operation of the facility. She ensures that organizational ideals and strategies are in keeping with the conscientious, compassionate care of the patients. She manages budgets, provides adequate staff education programs, complies with the ever changing health care standards and regulations, and is responsible for all fundraising and public relations. In addition to her work responsibilities, Angel is dedicated to providing support to not only her staff, but to the patients and the patient’s family.
“The long hours can be emotionally draining,” Angel confesses, “but incredibly rewarding at the same time.
Anyone that has ever encountered Angel, in either a professional or personal setting, can attest to the fact that she has an incredibly strong drive and welcomes any challenge to enhance her skills. Angel moved to Mission, as a single mother, when her daughter was two years of age. New to the area, she did what most single parents would do. She found a basement suite she could afford on her low income, got a serving job at a local neighbourhood pub, and set about acquainting herself with the community and her neighbours.
It wasn’t long before Angel landed a position with the banquets department at the Best Western Hotel. Having been raised in the hospitality industry, she felt exceptionally comfortable being back in a similar role. Her hard work and dedication soon elevated her from banquets manager to catering director. The catering industry calls for an enormous amount of multi-tasking, efficiency, diplomacy and communication. Angel thrived in this environment. She discovered she had the uncanny ability to not only give exemplary customer service, but she could also engage and motivate her team to get the job done, in an enjoyable and productive manner. Her positivity, her confidence, her organizational skills and her remarkable problem solving abilities thoroughly impressed the clients, and soon, Angel became one of the most respected and revered special events coordinators in Mission. Angel was exceedingly instrumental in the execution of some of Mission’s most prominent events, such as the Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards and the Mission Hospice Gala.
This was a notable time for Angel.
She was really beginning to introduce herself as an industry professional, but at the same time, she and her new husband were in the midst of juggling the inevitable struggle of a work/life balance. It was a challenge Angel accepted with unwavering enthusiasm and a strong determination to succeed. Their children were young and the hotel gave her the necessary freedom required to actively involve herself in parent advisory councils, as well as recreational hobbies and sporting activities. Practices, games, recitals and years of coaching provided a valuable opportunity for renewing life’s important lessons, such as team work, leadership, fair play and having fun.
“I took on the role of manager for the Minor Hockey A1 Midget Stars,” she says. “I also joined the Mission Minor Lacrosse Association and I was an active parent in the Can Dance Academy.”
As the kids grew and life became increasingly more hectic, extracurricular activities and quality family time were no longer coinciding well with working holidays, weekends and night shifts. With a heavy heart, and after five years employment with the Best Western, Angel made the decision to leave when she was offered a position with the Mission Regional Chamber of Commerce. As the new Membership and Events Coordinator, the Chamber proved a true initiation into the business community of Mission. Embracing a world of networking and business engagement gave Angel new credibility and a valuable voice amongst her peers.
Angel began to spread her wings.
One afternoon, Wilson Seig, a long standing Rotarian in the community, invited Angel to a Rotary lunch. He immediately recognized the potential of this ambitious young professional and saw her as an ideal club prospect. Rotary appealed to Angel, with its assurance of personal growth, business development, continued learning, volunteer opportunities and most of all, friendship. It only took one meeting and she knew this was exactly where she wanted to be. The way you spend your leisure time can dramatically influence your happiness, focus and success, and Angel found herself spending more and more time giving back to the community.
“I threw myself in, wholeheartedly,” she admits, her enormous smile revealing her love of volunteering. “The Candlelight Parade, the Rotary Carol Festival, Blessing in a Backpack, the Toque Drive… everything.”
Angel was as much an asset to Rotary as Rotary was to Angel. She had discovered a way to integrate her interests, creative thinking and skills with the needs of others. Twelve years of Rotary service has proven more than advantageous. Serving alongside many distinguished and influential community leaders, Angel has acted as club president, past president and secretary.
“I have initiated numerous successful undertakings,” Angel affirms, celebrating how each collaboration had the unbelievable power to change a life. “There was never a need for individual glory or recognition. It is always service before self.”
The Scoreboard at the Sports Park, the St. Joseph’s Food Bank and My Youth House were all Rotary projects, and much time and effort went into fundraising and securing grants. Fundraising has the ability to connect people who have a passion about making a difference, with a cause they care about.
As a unique and spirited person, Angel has a passion for making a difference. Her belief in what Rotary stands for has always been one of her motivations, and she has been witness to its massive impact worldwide.
There are those of us who know life is much bigger than the boundaries of our beloved town.
There are those exemplary individuals that hear about certain challenges and feel compelled to help. In 2016, with the support and guidance of Rotary, as well as the benevolence of Tyler Dental Artz team, Angel joined a life-changing humanitarian trip. Their mission was to provide free dental care to those who had no way of reaching a dentist.
“For two weeks, I volunteered as a dental hygienist. I had to wing it!” she confesses enthusiastically, admitting her obvious lack of dental knowledge or experience. “I wouldn’t trade my time in Thailand for anything in the world. It gave me a whole new perspective while I was working to make a positive impact.”
Angel has been the honoured recipient of the Paul Harris Fellowship Award. This recognition honours individuals that demonstrate significant support for The Rotary. It is the highest honour bestowed and represents a combination of fellowship and extraordinary service to the community.
Angel’s entire family has adopted the philosophy of service before self, and over the years, have accompanied Angel at many community events and assisted with numerous fundraising endeavours.
“Giving back is valuable and it has become a family tradition,” Angel acknowledges. “Practicing empathy through acts of service has installed a sense of positive purpose in my kids.”
With a recent mid-career change, regular business engagements, ever-increasing volunteer activity, and a commitment to prioritize family time, Angel took on yet another challenge. She decided to go back to school and earn her Business Administration Degree.
“Education is a smart investment and something I really wanted to do,” Angel explains, noting how she had always dreamt of going back to school.
It's never too late to earn a degree and after two years of study, Angel graduated from the University of the Fraser Valley with a strong foundation in business knowledge.
Once again, it was time for a change.
After four years with the Mission Chamber, Angel took a position as the Events and Funds Development manager with Big Brothers Big Sisters. With an undeniable talent for fundraising and an obvious flair for event planning, Angel thought she had finally found the position she’d been waiting for her entire life.
Then a posting caught her eye and sparked her attention.
“The Mission Hospice was looking for a new Executive Director,” she explains.
Since her departure from the Best Western in 2008, Angel had remained an active participant in planning the annual Gala with the Mission Hospice, and knew this position completely aligned with her ambitions. She began taking the necessary steps toward obtaining her dream job.
Angel has now been with the Mission Hospice since 2013.
It is a challenging role, but Angel gets to do something that she genuinely loves. When people align how they make a living, with who they are, and what they value, that’s when they find incredible success. And Angel has had much success with the Mission Hospice; personally and professionally. She has proven that a strong leader can make a large difference in how a non-profit organization operates. Every day, Angel inspires her team to work together towards the same goal.
Once again, Angel rose to prominence, as one of our community’s top event coordinators, planning her annual and unique fundraising events like Hospice Gala and Hike and Ride for Hospice, to name a few. These events work to raise awareness of the many challenges faced by palliative care and help to promote the phenomenal work performed by volunteers and professionals on a regular basis.
“People think that all I do is fundraise,” Angel indicates. “But it’s so much more than that. It’s about health care and ensuring people in our community receive the end-of-life care they wish for.”
Angel has been on the board of the Mission Regional Chamber of Commerce for three years, as well as having the honour of being the 2021 Chamber President. She was an active participant in the 2014 BC Winter Games opening and closing ceremonies.
She admits that it’s an honour to be an integral part of this community and she has drawn much professional inspiration from some of the great individuals she works alongside.
They have not only ignited her desire to work harder, but made her want to continue offering service to her community.
Angel was the recipient of the City of Mission Community Service Award in 2020. This award honours those who have demonstrated exemplary volunteerism within our community. She is currently the Chair and co-founder of the Federation of Fraser Region Hospice Societies
and Director of BC Hospice palliative Care Association representing Fraser Region.
Again, the time has come for another change in Angel’s life, and she is looking towards a seat with our municipal council.
Leadership means listening carefully to others. Leadership is the understanding of different concerns, ideas and perspectives. When electing officials in Mission, our community seeks out individuals with integrity, honesty and impeccable communication skills.
Over the years, Angel has more than proven that she has the competence and commitment required to properly represent Mission. She has the interpersonal skills necessary to converse with the community. She has an objective and critical mind, and is a strategic thinker with the ability to deal with a variety of complex issues. Acting with consistency, regardless of her audience, Angel prides herself on being open minded and approachable.
“I have a good understanding of what is needed,” she explains, when asked why she thinks she might make a good candidate. “I have first hand knowledge of the business and the non-profit community, and I’ve had a hand in everything from sports and education, to health care.”
When asked what makes Angel special, her family is quick to mention her compassion and her confidence.
“She carries her heart on her sleeve,” says her husband, Doug, affectionately. “She’s passionate about everything she undertakes, and is never afraid of a challenge.”
Angel considers herself lucky to be included amongst the top women leaders in our community, and draws professional inspiration from each of them daily.
“These women are a force to be reckoned with,” she admits. “They make everything look so easy and I can only hope that one day I am able to reach their level of patience, understanding and grace.”
Mission never ceases to amaze Angel. If it isn’t the giving nature that makes her proud to live here, it is the awe-inspiring landscape of the Fraser Valley.
“I love how we can just leave behind any stress or chaos, and dissolve into the beauty of our surroundings,” she says, “Doug and I can throw our rods in the boat and be out on the river within a half an hour. It is the perfect town to truly connect with nature.”
An authentic community spirit. Inspirational women like Angel Elias embody true leadership and vision. They are breaking barriers to reach impressive heights. A genuine role model with an indisputably positive impact on our hometown, Angel is ready for the challenge.
Integrity. Accountability. Empathy. Humility. Resilience. Influence. Positivity. Confidence.
She has the ability to help Mission reach our goals and potential.