As a local organization charged with connecting the world of business with education, the Foundation for Education Perth Huron annually present regional Employer Champion Awards. These awards recognize Huron Perth employers who have shown an outstanding commitment to providing meaningful work experiences for high school students in their communities through job shadowing, mentoring, apprenticeship, classroom or worksite visits and cooperative education.
For their outstanding commitment to providing meaningful work experiences for high school students, this year’s regional recipient was the Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance’s Clinton Public Hospital as represented by Facilities Management employee, Barry Bell.
“The award this year had a unique and dual purpose”, states Executive Director of the the Foundation Wes MacVicar. “Not only did we wish to recognize that the HPHA and CPH has been providing opportunities for co-op students for over 20 years, but we also wanted to highlight the daily efforts of its employees who makes the experience for students a great growing opportunity by way of true mentorship.”
Barry Bell (with the help of his brother and co-worker, Budd Bell) is one such employee.
Bell has worked in Facilities Management at CPH for 29 years and, for the last two decades, has provided co-op students with the opportunity to complete hands-on tasks in the repair and installation of equipment – a great experience by any standard but Bell has taken it further.
“He has not only developed the skills of our students but has been mentor who gives them a chance to engage in learning and to demonstrate the joy of discovery”, remarks Christina Zold of Central Huron Secondary School’s Co-operative Education Department. “Barry goes above and beyond what a co-op employer is required to do. He cares about them and wants them to be successful and he goes out of his way to help each one.”
When asked about their stint with Bell and CPH former students eagerly weighed in.
“When I was a co-op student with Barry I felt as though I was not working under him but with him,” one student states. “He treated me as an equal, was very patient, understanding and became a friend not just a boss.”
“Barry took for granted that I was there to learn”, another student remembers. “He gave me some important advice and that is to ‘never give up’.”
Statistics confirm the one of the biggest benefits to a community that springs from this form of dedication and commitment to students is that it helps stave off the loss of talented youth and budding professionals from the area.
“A common story that came to light in creating the case for the award is that Barry has routinely taken the time after work to help students establish connections with other community members”, remarks MacVicar. “By doing this, in many cases, he was able to help them secure part-time and full-time work.”
The Foundation for Education Perth Huron Employer Champion Award was recently presented at the Huron Chamber of Commerce’s Spirit of Success Awards.
Barry Bell accepted the honour in front of the 200 member audience with support from his spouse, Colleen Bell, Christina Zold from CHSS’ Cooperative Education Department, the HPHA’s Manager of Volunteer Services, Cheryl Hunt and HPHA Board Member, Lynn Girard.
For more information on the Foundation or information about getting involved in short or long term experiential learning opportunities for students call 1-800-592-5437 or visit foundationforeducation.ca.