Volunteer of the Month- February

Gemma Koreski – Design Committee

As busy professionals, it took Gemma Koreski and I a number of times to synch our calendars for today’s interview. She has a new role at the Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce while I work at Central Washington University. We both volunteer for the EDA. So how does a busy working professional, such as our February Volunteer of the Month, manage to work full-time and volunteer? In this interview, Gemma explains though it can be a challenge, it’s very rewarding and well worth the effort.

Where are you from?

I’m from Seattle.


What brought you to Ellensburg?

I came for Central [Washington University] like most everyone else. I came in 2010, studied vocal performance, realized I really liked it here and decided to stay. My fiancé also went to CWU and we decided Ellensburg was the perfect place for us.


How did you get involved with the EDA?
I started volunteering in spring 2018. At the time my co-worker and friend was the chair of the Design Committee, so I had asked her about a better way to get involved in the community. I work for the Chamber and know a lot of people but I wanted to see a lot more outside of our normal networking events, so she suggested I join the EDA Design Committee. It’s a really good fit.


What are some of your favorite things about Design Committee?

I like getting out and working in the dirt and trying to get the garden beds working. The Downtown Clean Up and Planter Days are probably our largest projects. Something that I’m really excited about in the coming months is the anniversary of the great fire that burned down much of downtown. It’s coming up on the 130th anniversary. In May, for Historic Preservation Month, we’re going to do a big birthday bash for all of the buildings downtown.


Why do you think people should get involved?

First, it’s really simple to donate your time. I also think it’s important to feel a sense of investment in your community. So many people like the small-town charm of Ellensburg, and that’s why so many people graduate from Central and decide to stay. I think it’s a sense of pride and it’s important that as a community member you play a role in the way the community works.


How does volunteering blend with your job?

(Gemma is the Director of Membership and Commercial Properties Manager at the Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce)


With my new full-time position, it really instilled in me that I wanted to meet more people so I could go to networking events and know people in the room and not feel so awkward and uncomfortable. It’s a little more extra time that you have to put in outside of work, but it’s beneficial and it’s good to know people in other communities not just your own central hub. The Chamber also partners with EDA on a number of events.


Lastly, what is your favorite part about living here?

It’s the sense of being able to go to the grocery store and see five people you know—it’s really comforting. I grew up in Seattle and it’s a huge city and I could go weeks without seeing someone that I knew. Everybody says “hi” to you and it makes you feel positive about your day.


The EDA is proud to recognize Gemma as our February Volunteer of the Month! 

Contact Taylor Castillo at [email protected] to learn how you can volunteer.


Written by:

Dawn Alford, EDA Organization Committee Member