Mark Bernhardt; mentoring kids for the future

Mark Bernhardt joined Origin’s Health, Safety and Environment team in 2012 and before long started participating in the Origin Energy Foundation’s volunteering program. “My manager encouraged me to get involved because volunteering was something I was pretty passionate about,” said Mark.

“If you had told me when I left school in year 10, that I’d have a degree under my belt and be in a pretty responsible position, I would never have believed you and that’s one of the messages that I try to communicate to the kids that I mentor”

Mark Bernhardt, Origin employee

Mark participated in several volunteering opportunities, but it was the Beacon Foundation’s ‘MyRoad’ program where he really felt he could make a difference. The program provides young people in school, often disengaged and in disadvantaged areas, the opportunity to connect with volunteer mentors from different areas and learn about the world of work and potential career paths.

“If you had told me when I left school in year 10, that I’d have a degree under my belt and be in a pretty responsible position, I would never have believed you and that’s one of the messages that I try to communicate to the kids that I mentor,” said Mark.

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.”

Mark has volunteered nearly 80 hours with the MyRoad online mentoring program, reaching more than 150 students across 28 schools. To help prepare, he completed several training courses, including a course for specialist mentoring at the Goodooga Central School, where 94 per cent of the students identify as Aboriginal.

“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. “

MyRoad program student

 “My job is pretty serious; the volunteering gives some balance and variety. 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 said. “Even if they’ve just taken one thing away from the session that helps them to be more successful when they leave school, I feel like I have made a difference.”

“My job is pretty serious; the volunteering gives some balance and variety.”

Mark Bernhardt, Origin employee

Mark actively encourages his colleagues to get involved. “We are so lucky to have the Origin Energy Foundation available to us. It’s a brilliant opportunity to make a difference.”

At the 2018 NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards, Mark was nominated by Beacon Foundation for Corporate Volunteer of the Year, in recognition of his extraordinary commitment to the program, and the impact of his sincerity and caring attitude.

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