With a heart as big as her smile, Angela Vosburg has a way with people.
Some describe her as the bright spot in a room, others know a dedicated community volunteer. Still more know her as a savvy and successful businesswoman. While the reports vary, there seems to be one thing everyone agrees on: Vosburg makes both an impression and a difference in people’s lives.
For some, it’s been a life changer. Barbara Hunt said she was alone, newly divorced, and weary when she moved to Whidbey to start over.
“I didn’t seem to find a way to meet anyone here, and I was feeling isolated and dejected,” Hunt said.
One evening, she mustered up the courage to attend a fundraising event. She slipped into a large room full of people mingling, and quickly sat at the first empty chair. For about 5 minutes, though it felt like an hour, she was feeling even more alone, but then she met Vosburg.
“A young, beautiful woman came up to me introduced herself as Angela and struck up a conversation with me,” Hunt said. “She then invited me to sit with a group of friends of hers, and that was the beginning of feeling a part of this community.”
Leanne Finlay, a South Whidbey Realtor/broker, describes Vosburg as, “Someone who has the innate spark that warms a roomful of strangers, and can let a loner know they have been noticed.”
Vosburg volunteers in many capacities in the community, and makes a “huge” difference, she added. Finlay worked with her on the greater Freeland chamber board for several years. Vosburg helps make the meetings focused, witty, and is always striving to make fundraising efforts better than the year before.
“Angela isn’t going to think being a Hometown Hero is what she is all about — but the reality is, Angela walks that walk naturally and gracefully every day,” Finlay said.
Indeed, Vosburg seriously questions her selection for the longtime Record stories on people who make profound impacts in their communities.
“Are you sure people nominated me as a hometown hero? I mean, I am blown away by this,” Vosburg said. “I am such an oxymoron and I have the mouth of a trucker.”
She added that she doesn’t think of herself as a hometown hero, and is both surprised and humbled that so many see her in such a good way.
“I love most people and I’m working to be more like my parents who show compassion to everyone, regardless of their situation,” she said.
Vosburg’s parents are Carolyn and Reuben “Buck” Vosburg. She describes them as the “sweetest and most compassionate” parents around, people who made everyone feel welcome in their home. Everyone was treated like family, she said. “Growing up we had nine dogs, sheep, horses, chickens and you name it,” she said. “My parents owned a pet shop in Freeland; a lot of people remember me as the little Asian baby playing there.”
They love their animals and people too, she said. Every time Vosburg and her sister would tell their parents that one of their friends was having trouble at home and asked if they could stay with them, their answer right away was, “of course.”
One night, a friend of Vosburg’s was kicked out of his house and had nowhere to go. When she told her dad, they got in the car, picked him up and brought him home.
“Sometimes our friends ended up staying at our home for months,” said Vosburg, while smiling and reflecting on how fortunate she is.
Vosburg was adopted by her parents when she was 6 months old from the largest orphanage in South Korea. She says she has the information to look up her birth parents, but hasn’t felt any desire to do so.
“How lucky to be able to throw a dart in the whole world and end up on South Whidbey and with the loving parents I have,” she said.
Vosburg met her husband, Jack Ng, when she was 17 while working at the Langley Bakery.
“He came in and would tip me $10 for a mocha,” she said, with a laugh. “He was persistent and I figured we should date since were both Asian, and there were only five of us on South Whidbey.”
Laughing more she states, “I might have slanted eyes, but I don’t know a lick about being Asian. I am such a white-girl; I eat very American — give me steak and potatoes over rice. I don’t speak Korean, have only picked up a little Chinese and have only learned anything about the Asian culture through Jack’s family.”
Vosburg began working at China City, the restaurant she owns along with her husband, when she was 19. Laughing she says, “I managed the bar from the stairs, because I was too young to be inside.”
She recalled informing one man she knew that they couldn’t serve him any more alcohol and his response was, “I have been drinking longer than you’ve been alive.”
“Although intimidated, I stood by my decision,” she said. “I didn’t want to come off as a kid, but at the same time I was a kid.”
“I love most people and I’m working to be more like my parents, who show compassion regardless of their situation.”
She says that with all of the charitable boards she is on, most of the members are middle aged and older.
“We need more young volunteers. Everyone can bring something to the table,” she said. “I hear of some people that move to the area and complain that there isn’t anything to do. I try to encourage them to bring what they want to see here. Find your interest and give of your time for it, and others will help you.”
She says she has tried to learn what she’s good at and what she isn’t. For example she states, “I am a horrible trainer, I would just take over and do the job, and not explain it. Thank goodness we have excellent employees who know how to train other employees.”
According to China City Mill Creek Manager Rachael Wescott, Vosburg has hospitality down because she cares so much about people.
“Angela changes the lives of everyone she meets and betters the lives of so many through her tireless efforts in the community,” she said. “As a business owner, she constantly betters the lives of her employees and works tirelessly to improve each community she is involved with. She cares about the littlest details of her employees’ lives and wants to make sure each one is happy and well cared for. She makes each restaurant into mini families, and she is ‘mom’ to over 100 employees and all of them love her and have the upmost respect for her.”
Shawn Nowlin, community outreach coordinator for Good Cheer and a community volunteer, says Vosburg personifies a new generation of leaders.
“Not only is she a success as a businesswoman, but she volunteers helping her hometown neighbors,” Nowlin said.
“Her welcoming hospitality and inclusive nature makes every experience she’s involved with seem like a family occasion.”
And that’s just fine with Vosburg.
“This community is amazing,” she said. “My hope is that more of my generation will start volunteering. Your community needs your hospitality, as too many of the volunteers are getting older and they are unsustainable without you.”
WHAT OTHERS SAY ABOUT ANGELA
“I heard of an opportunity to recommend someone for our next Hometown Hero award. I can think of no better person to honor than Angela Vosburg. When I look at past hometown heroes, I see wonderful people who have contributed 20-40 years of service to the community. What amazes me about Angela is that someone so young has accomplished so much in such a short time! It seems her whole day and night are dedicated to community planning, events, sponsorships and support of local entities. She doesn’t limit herself to one area of our community, she is involved in most all communities up and down the island.”
Chris Michalopoulos, customer experience director Whidbey Telecom
“Occasionally we are allowed to meet someone, who upon entering our lives becomes a true friend. As that relationship develops you realize how many layers there are to that person, and each layer is better than the last. Angela’s core values are based, first of all, on the love of family and friends. That includes Jack Ng, her husband, their son, Jacob, as well as the rest of their extended family at China City Restaurant, the family business. Angela has excellent vision and a great work ethic. She is a no-nonsense woman when putting together things like a Relay for Life event, a WICA auction, a Rotary [gathering], Readiness to Learn or Holiday House affairs. Angela never stops giving back to the community that has given to her so much. What a great Hometown Hero we have in our midst.”
Ray and Mary Green, volunteers
“Angela is full of energy and very organized; she always thinks of the details necessary to accomplish the project and covers them all before the due date. She is a joy to work with. I have worked with Angela on Rotary projects, Holiday House and have seen her in action around the China City restaurants.”
Jay Ryan, volunteer
“Angela believes with hard work you can accomplish anything. She will motivate you to be the best that you can be. I admire her honesty and willingness to give and share. Greed is not a part of her make up as a person. Loyalty is hard core to this woman; it is unwavering. And her wit and humor are ridiculously funny. She understands that giving back is success all by itself.”
Maria McGee, owner Lotus Tea Bar & Studio
“Angela’s compassion and warmth towards others are unsurpassed. She’s committed to supporting the causes of all non-profits. She is wise beyond her years. She has great ideas, is extremely creative, and follows through on everything she starts. Her contributions to this community are unmatched. Angela puts everyone before herself.”
Lyn Gaustad, owner Whidbey Vision Care
“At a very young age, Angela wanted to be able to work and be in the public. She was always eager to participate. At a teacher conference in primary school, her teacher was amazed at Angela’s ability to organize the kids during recess to develop plays or games. She felt that Angela was showing great potential for leadership abilities. We have seen that ability develop with her interests in helping many organizations with fundraising and charitable causes. Angela works tirelessly to make her community better. She’s always there to help, plan, and organize. Angela is very caring and compassionate to those she knows and serves.”
Carolyn and Buck Vosburg, Angela’s parents
“Angela is one amazing woman. She sets high standards, works hard towards her goals and invests what little free time she has back into the community. She is generous with causes she supports with both time and money. Angela is also someone who encourages others to be their best. She is quick to support other people’s dreams. I consider it a privilege to know her and can honestly say that she is someone who inspires me to work harder, set high standards, and be relentless in pursuing my dreams. Definitely a Hometown Hero!”
Jill Johnson, Island County commissioner
“We’re very fortunate to have Angela a part of South Whidbey. One instance that sticks out in my mind was recently, when she was involved with a fundraiser. There was a complication and the charity did not meet its goal of money raised. Angela broke down and cried, and between her and me we put on a very special dinner, and raised the rest of the moneys. She’s very sincere with what she takes on, second best is not acceptable with her.”
Tim Shorey, Shorey Construction
“Angela is one of the most energetic people I have ever met. She is like the Ever Ready bunny on steroids! Best of all she harnesses that energy in a selfless way. She is the first to step up and run a fundraiser for someone in the community that may be in need. She is a great inspiration and role model to anyone that may be looking for ways to become involved in their community. She spends hours donating her time, (in which she is usually in a lead position) for community events.”
Jim Porter, Porter Whidbey Insurance and volunteer
“Angela impacts people and her community with her dedication in everything she does. She gives 110 percent from start to finish. She wants everything to be better upfront and at the end. Anything she’s involved with, people end up feeling so special because of her passion. People naturally want to be around her because she connects people. There would be a noticeable hole if she moved from South Whidbey.”
Kit Gerwels, Columbia Bank Relationship manager
ANGELA VOSBURG PERSONALS
Something you would rather never do?
“Public speaking! I would rather crawl in a hole! Even just announcing my name to a new guest, around a table of colleagues is nerve racking.”
What is something you ask yourself?
“How I didn’t get the unconditional compassionate gene from my parents.”
What do most people not know about you?
“I am very shy.”
What baffles you?
“Why would our local law enforcement advertise publicly that they are short handed and/or the details as to how certain crimes are committed.”
What warms your heart?
“My family, and dear friends that have become family. I seriously have the most amazing loving people in my life. I am so blessed and fortunate. Truly first-class, quality people. They have been my rocks through our crazy schedules and life moments. I’m also happy to see old high school friends move back to the island and raise their children here.”
What is something you found out is true?
“All those cliches I learned growing up are absolutely true. Like, ‘stop to smell the roses’ and ‘enjoy your children while they are young because they grow up so fast.’ ”
What is something you now understand about your parents more?
“I used to tell my mom, ‘Geez Mom, get rid of all this stuff.’ But I save all the art from our son, and cards people give me, all those sentimental mementos, I get it now, Mom.”
Something that is very hard in life?
“Losing friends, customers, and community members to illness or when they go through really tough times in their lives; it is hard to watch others in pain.”