Give a little, get a lot through volunteering

At Origin, moving our volunteering online, has helped us continue to have a positive impact. Mark Bernhardt shares how we’re bringing good energy to our communities during a challenging time.

As a Senior Health, Safety and Environment Business Partner with Origin’s LPG business, Mark Bernhardt knows what it takes to keep a community healthy and safe. 

As one of Origin’s most dedicated volunteers, Mark has clocked up over 50 mentoring sessions with the Beacon Foundation. Supported by the Origin Energy Foundation’s ‘Give Time’ program, Mark continues to make a significant difference providing young people in school the opportunity to connect, to learn about the world of work and potential career paths. 

Based in Minto, New South Wales, Mark is passionate about giving back to his community and has played his part in helping Beacon support more than 62,000 Australian students.  

Mark has mentored more than 250 students, across over 35 schools in five states over the last five years, and there’s more to come.  

Mark’s ever-growing armoury of tricks includes a favoured icebreaker featuring his rescue dogs Gypsy and Toby, who proved particularly helpful when Beacon brought their MyRoad mentoring program to young people home-schooling in 2020/21 due to COVID-19. Negotiating the challenge of delivering the program remotely with the care and sincerity he brings to every mentoring session, Gypsy and Toby helped put the students at ease from the start.  

“It’s a really good feeling to know that you are potentially making a difference to a kid that may otherwise not have the opportunity to speak to someone about a future career. It’s hard to put words around the value that brings,” Mark shared. “Even if they just take one thing away from the session which helps them to be more successful when they leave school, I feel like I have made a difference.” 

When asked about highlights of his role as a volunteer mentor, and what has inspired him to such an impressive mentoring milestone, Mark immediately suggests the post-session feedback from his students. After participating in a session with Mark, one student remarked, “The most important thing I learnt from my mentor was to persevere and to maintain hope and focus when entering the workforce or doing anything in life.” 

“I feel really lucky to be able to make a difference through the Origin Energy Foundation. While there are people I can help, I’ll keep volunteering, because I’ve seen that giving a little time out of my life, can make a big change in someone else’s.” said Mark.

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