Cas Bukor is a mother, former refugee, photographer, and avid volunteer. “I’ve developed such a broad social network through volunteering that people regularly come to me if they need help with something, because chances are, I’ll know someone who can point them in the right direction,” says Cas.
Cas, who worked as a professional graphic designer for many years, first got involved in volunteering over 30 years ago.
“When my son was at school, I just didn’t have the time to join the school’s in-person volunteer roles, so instead I’d volunteer from home by helping out the school with designing things like newsletters, logos and important documents,” says Cas.
Drawing on her existing skills, she was able to play an active role in her son’s school community. Cas volunteered in a way that suited her capacity and schedule.
Since those early days, Cas has broadened her horizons by applying her graphic design skills to the Williamstown Festival. She has developed her photography skills by shooting events for the Hobsons Bay Yacht Club where she also helps manage food for the weekly summer series races.
“Volunteering has really expanded my experience, my skills and me as a person,” says Cas.
Cas now volunteers at local schools through EdConnect. Dedicated to recruiting and training, EdConnect supports skilled volunteers with mentoring or learning support roles.
“Through EdConnect, I’ve mostly volunteered to teach photography. As well as gardening and cooking through the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden program,” she says. “I’ve learned so much through the experience, about the things I’m teaching and about the people I’m working with.”
The safety of children and young people is EdConnect’s first priority. All volunteers are screened and trained before being placed in a school that would benefit from their expertise or interests.
“The process of joining EdConnect involved getting my ‘Working with Children’ check, completing an interview, followed by a training course where I got to meet other like-minded volunteers,” says Cas.
“EdConnect also provides online training for continued improvement. Even though you intuitively know most the content, it’s really helpful to just reaffirm that knowledge and the processes that keep everyone safe.”
But as Cas attests, the volunteer program has benefitted her just as much as the students and schools she has supported.
If you’re considering volunteering, Cas says, “Just give it a go.” Find people and organisations that are involved in something that interests you.
“Have a good think about what your own passions are and how that can align with a volunteer role, then chat to someone who already volunteers,” says Cas. “For anyone who has retired, I highly recommend volunteering at least one day a week – it's a great way to transition from a working lifestyle to retirement, by giving you some structure, some routine, a nice purpose and a way to socialise.”
“I volunteer because I love people. I’m a people person and a giver – I love interacting with my community and learning from people of all walks of life.”