At Origin we are providing good energy in more ways than one. It’s our people that are working hard to support our customers and communities across Australia every day.
Mark Bernhardt joined the Origin LPG Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) team in 2012, as their senior Business Partner for NSW. It was soon after that he started participating in the Origin Energy Foundation’s volunteering program. “My manager encouraged me to get involved because volunteering has always been something that I’m pretty passionate about,” said Mark.
“If you had told me when I left school in yr. 10, that I’d have a degree under my belt and work in HSE, I would never have believed you and that’s one of the messages I try to communicate to the kids I mentor”, said Mark.
Mark felt that his background naturally aligned with the Beacon Foundation’s ‘My Road’ program and knew he could really 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.
Mark has volunteered nearly 80 hours with the My Road 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. When asked about highlights as a volunteer mentor, he reflected that the post-session feedback from the young people, provided by Beacon Foundation was both insightful and rewarding.
One student mentioned after a mentoring session with Mark that “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 said “My job is pretty serious; the volunteering gives me some balance and variety. It’s a 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.”
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. Mark actively encourages his colleagues to get involved. “We’re so lucky to have the Origin Energy Foundation available to us. It’s a brilliant opportunity to make a difference.” “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.”
“Being with the company now for 8 years, I know it’s where I belong because I get the opportunity to make a difference within the walls of Origin and back out in the community, which is pretty special to me.”
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