We’re shining the spotlight on an Orr alumna that has done great work in her community and Orr Fellowship, Georgia Twersky. Georgia is a Notre Dame alumna, the former Director of Civic Engagement for 2021-2022, and currently an associate marketing manager at Roche Diagnostics. She serves on two boards and volunteers regularly at Second Helpings.
Georgia’s passion for civic engagement helped inspire many current Fellows to take up the challenge of using their skills and talents to engage with the Indianapolis community and make it a better place for all who call Indianapolis home.
In this two part series, we’ll explore Georgia’s involvement with civic engagement in Indy. Today, let’s see why and how Georgia took the plunge into serving different communities here in Indy.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
Why are you so passionate about civic engagement? Where does it come from?
It’s definitely a curiosity that started during college. One of my fun facts that I like to keep to myself and close friends is that I volunteered in every city I’ve lived in; whether or not it was at La Casa in South Bend, weekly with my Spanish class, volunteering at a preschool in Santiago, Chile, or during my time studying abroad. I tutored Syrian refugee students in Germany, and Notre Dame was able to take me for an international economics study abroad. I went out of my way to find somewhere to volunteer, even just for the six weeks I was there. And then my summer in Atlanta really sealed the deal. I did a summer service learning program for my junior spring internship housing refugees.
I think where this curiosity comes from, really is to help me with my homesickness. A lot of times, I’m very far from Los Angeles. One way to feel at home is to meet and talk and walk alongside the local people doing what they do. So it was pretty clear cut for me, once I got to Indiana, it was really important to dive into my personal volunteer opportunities.
You’re better off taking a couple moments of time to make sure you want to provide some impact where it’s needed and where your skills are needed best.
What do you attribute your instinctual need to volunteer to? I know in my own experience, that occurs as a conscious thought, but definitely not an instinct.
I think it starts like, at least by me, I’m a woman of my faith. One way I live out my faith is through service—that’s when I feel closest.
Secondly, I don’t think I’m an extrovert. But I definitely go out of my way to find experiences and opportunities where I can just talk to people. I love the Midwest; you start chatting with random people on the street. I’m from the West Coast—that doesn’t really happen.
I think the toughest part of it is sticking through with your commitment. I don’t encourage people to find a place to volunteer for them to not continue going to. So I really encourage myself and others to do your research before you commit. You don’t want to volunteer at three places. You’re better off taking a couple moments of time to make sure you want to provide some impact where it’s needed and where your skills are needed best.
I think it first stems from my faith and secondly, to make friends and talk to people.
You mentioned finding a place to provide impact where your skills are needed. How do you know, when looking for a place/organization to volunteer, that their needs align with your skills? How do you figure that out?
You definitely have to start with going to your closest friends and mentors and ask them, “What are five words to describe me?” or “What do you think I’m good at?” As for my roommates, they said I was good at cooking. I really enjoy cooking, making a crazy meal in the kitchen. And I love feeding people as well.
With that being said, I was looking around Indy, and I found Second Helpings, which is a massive food kitchen that serves over 14 million meals a month. I enjoy going there and cooking a big vat of spaghetti and then portioning it for families; I don’t get to see the families we hand it out to. But it’s fun to just go on Thursday evenings and cook for three hours with people alongside you. I’ve actually met people that work at my company there.
I think with goal setting, when getting into volunteering, I’d say make a goal that is easily achievable.
It’s really cool that you have established Thursday evenings to go in and help cook. I know prioritization is a big factor in making volunteering part of a routine and being consistent. But how did you find the time to integrate it into your weekly schedule? Knowing everything that’s involved with Orr and work?
I think with goal setting, when getting into volunteering, I’d say make a goal that is easily achievable. So if you think you want to go once a month, maybe challenge yourself to go once a quarter and start there: “I’m going to volunteer once a quarter,” because the truth is, that’s probably more than the next person’s going. And that’s a goal you can easily attain. If you do find a week where you’re a little light in your schedule, you can squeeze in an extra one. But I think the trick is to not tell yourself, “I’m going to go weekly,” because then you’re setting yourself up for challenges and you don’t want to miss out on Orr experiences as well. So I’d say setting really attainable goals is super key.
You’ve been in Indy for about two years at this point. How has your volunteering journey evolved from when you moved to Indy for the first time to now?
It definitely has evolved. I was going weekly to support Second Helpings. Then, I really wanted to get involved in Launchpad and Orr Fellowship. And when I joined the Launchpad team, it really challenged us to think about how we could transform the program to be better for Fellows. So I would even consider my role as Launchpad coordinator [as] one of the volunteer positions I held. It quickly transformed into Director of Civic Engagement. That was a heavy year of volunteering and meetings and programming for the organization.
I completed six months of United Way’s Leadership United, which is a program to develop board members here in Indy. Through that program, I completed my certificate and then I served six months at the Fay Biccard Glick Neighborhood Center.
I enjoyed my time on that board. But, I think it has transformed more into: “I want to get back involved in my alma mater.” So now I’m serving on the Notre Dame Club of Indianapolis [board].
I think it really transformed from doing individual work to leading committees in Orr to eventually sitting on boards and really challenging myself to sit alongside the best and hope that it rubs off on me. It’s a huge difference between going to a board meeting for three hours on Zoom once a month, and actually going out and volunteering—I don’t think both are for everyone. I like the strategy side of sitting on a board. I also like the immediate gratification of volunteering on a Saturday morning.
In terms of finding the opportunity, you mentioned United Way as a great place to get connected. How else can young professionals within Indy and other Orr Fellows really get involved in their community? How do you find that? How do you pursue it?
Let’s say you want to do more than volunteering, but maybe you’re not quite ready for board fellowship. There’s a lot of young professional fellowships here; Goodwill has one I think, Salvation Army, where a group of young professionals form a board.
It’s also worth asking, “Can I join a committee?” Sometimes that gets overseen–there has to be people on the ground doing something. For example, even though I was a board member for the neighborhood center, I was also on the Social Media Committee and helped do a drip campaign; that’s something I hadn’t done at work.
You can always reach out to the leader of that nonprofit and say, “Are there any committee spots that you need filled? Here’s my resume, I would love to meet you in person. I’m available Friday,” and really just demonstrate both your resume and then a time slot. It’s always worth joining a committee as well.
As far as other ways to get involved in the community, you can join your community Facebook groups. I’m a part of the Broad Ripple and downtown groups. There are always people posting things that they need. But as far as nonprofits go, I would say, Google is your best option. You can also lean on your past directors of Civic Engagement. Hopefully, if they’re still in Indy, they can help you navigate somewhere to get involved.
Finally, where can people find you?
You can find me on LinkedIn, Georgia Twersky. You can email me at any point. I have a network of nonprofits that are looking for board members and committee members I can connect you to. I have connections at United Way if that’s something you’re interested in or if you just want to get the ball rolling, conversation started. And if you’re interested in vintage household items, Instagram @inventoryrevival. We deliver for free anywhere in Indianapolis and we can ship as well.