"I’m not really a proud person,” admits Vicki Condon, wiping tears from her eyes while accepting a Glass Ceiling Award for establishing youth mentoring foundation Raise. “But I’m really proud of this award.”
Condon, 51, calls Raise her “midlife crisis”. Having trained as a counsellor after a decade-long corporate career, she first came up with the idea for the organisation when she turned 40 and “took off to Byron Bay to sit on the beach for a week”. In Byron, Condon wrote an entire business plan. But when she returned home to Sydney, she put the document in her bottom drawer, suffering a crisis of confidence.
It took a tragedy to turn Raise into a reality. In 2008, Condon’s family experienced the death by suicide of a 14-year-old friend. The day of his funeral, she pulled out the business plan and vowed to do something about Australia’s youth mental health crisis. “I thought, if I could just help one young person, it would be so worth it,” she recalls.
That was 11 years ago. Since launching, Raise has helped more than 5400 young Australians by simply matching at-risk kids with volunteer mentors.
After finishing the six-month program, mentees leave feeling empowered, capable and with goals – and hope – for the future.
“We’ve had young people who experience anxiety, self-harmers and kids whose parents are in jail. Watching these young people shine at the [Raise] graduation is amazing. The difference that a mentor can make is remarkable,” says Condon, who wants Raise to be in every public secondary school by 2024.
At the marie claire and Bumble Glass Ceiling Awards, we celebrated the game changers, the trailblazers and the innovators fighting for gender equality in the workplace. This article appeared in the September issue of marie claire.