Geraldine (Gerry) is a dedicated volunteer for Ucan2, a program run in partnership between CMY and Foundation House. The program recognises the need to provide additional support for young people aged 16 to 24, who are newly-arrived to Australia and from a refugee or migrant background.
CMY works closely with passionate volunteers who encourage and support young people through group activities. Volunteers share their work, study and life experiences in Australia; act as positive role models, help young people practice English; and help foster young people’s confidence to make social connections and develop their skills.
As an ex-primary school teacher, Gerry missed the enthusiastic energy young people brought to her everyday life and was keen to work with them again. Passionate about immigration issues as well, Gerry felt a strong need to make a positive difference on a grassroots level and says this program has allowed her to combine her interests and give back to the community.
“It’s my favourite two hours of the week, for many reasons; helping people who are unfamiliar with how things work, helping them to feel included and part of this society, and working with young people and other volunteers, it’s nice to surround yourself with good people,” she says, having volunteered for two semesters.
Gerry says through interacting with young people, she has learnt the different levels of bureaucracy young people need to overcome when they are looking to gain qualifications and employment. But she also says that she has learnt how she can help these young people on a practical level, as they are always so keen to learn and contribute to their communities.
“What’s great about Ucan2 is that there is such a mixture of stuff you get to do – there’s the head-down resume writing and ‘life admin’, and then there is also a lot of sharing of cultures, traditions, dress and food.”
When asked about the support she received from CMY as a volunteer, Gerry sings praises about Ucan2 Multicultural Youth Worker, Callisha, who has exceptionally facilitated the different experience levels of volunteers and made everyone feel included, and says she can’t wait for next semester.
Find out more about volunteering with Ucan2: cmy.net.au/ucan2