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September 2014 Newsletter

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In This Edition:
  • Thanks to You: Grisel is Rebuilding and Helping Others
  • Chevron Volunteers Discover the "Dos" and "Don'ts" of Interview Attire
  • New Opportunity Junction Program: Get on the Road to College!
  • Record-Breaking 19 Graduates in Class 44
  • Congratulations and welcome to new board members!
  • Grisel Reyes
    "Thank you Opportunity Junction for opening the door for me and helping me rebuild the confidence I had lost."
    Thanks to You: Grisel is Rebuilding and Helping Others
    A victim of the recession, Grisel Reyes struggled through the closing of her small business, her husband's lay-off, and her home being in foreclosure. She committed herself to the Job Training and Placement Program and improved her skills and employability. Grisel was hired by local non-profit Brighter Beginnings as a Program and Enrollment Assistant/ Site Coordinator, working with underserved families, and she has already earned a raise. "I am providing for my family again and saving money so I can purchase a home in a better neighborhood for my kids. More importantly, I can afford to buy my kids new coats this winter." Here's how she did it, thanks to your support.
    Chevron volunteers
    Chevron Volunteers Discover the "Dos" and "Don'ts" of Interview Attire
    A compassionate team of Chevron volunteers undertook the immense task of organizing Opportunity Junction's emergency wardrobe of interview apparel for participants. Thanks to the volunteers' keen eye for professional interview attire, participants will now be able to swiftly browse through the wardrobe and feel confident in their outfits in order to ace their interviews. Thank you Chevron volunteers! Click here to view the full story.
    College Connections New Opportunity Junction Program: Get on the Road to College!
    We are excited to announce that Opportunity Junction, in collaboration with Los Medanos College, is piloting a program to provide one-on-one customized support for clients to complete a certificate in a short-term, career technical education (CTE) track. We are still accepting applications for this program! Click here to learn more.
    Class 44
    Record-Breaking 19 Graduates in Class 44
    A record-breaking 19 members of Class 44 of the Job Training and Placement Program graduated on September 25th at the El Campanil Theater. This class, graduating during our 15th year of operations, joined 492 previous graduates to tip us over the 500 mark, with earnings of $8 million annually. Founding Board Member Sandy Bustillo served as our Special Guest Speaker. Read more...
    Sean Wright and Sharon Daniels
    Congratulations and welcome to new board members!
    Congratulations and welcome to the newest members of our Board of Directors: Bob Coakley, past Executive Director of the Thomas J. Long Foundation; Sharon Daniels with the City of Antioch; and Dr. Sean Wright, local chiropractor and CEO of the Antioch Chamber of Commerce and Executive Director of the East County Business Education Alliance. We are so fortunate to be able to add candidates with such valuable perspective, experience, and commitment.

    New Grants | Wish List

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    Thanks to You: Grisel is Rebuilding and Helping Others

    Grisel Reyes and her children

    A victim of the recession, Grisel Reyes struggled through the closing of her small business, her husband's lay-off, and her home in foreclosure. More painfully, the loss affected Grisel's two small children. "I couldn't afford the basic necessities for my newborn son; my daughter would ask me why she couldn't have a new coat or bring her lunch to school like her friends. I had lost hope. I was not where I had envisioned myself at my age and felt worthless," she shares.



    Grisel Reyes

    Struggling to make ends meet, Grisel worked hard to make it through the training program. "It was stressful at times but well worth it. During the job training, I received a great amount of help from the staff to help me improve my skills to get my dream job. Best of all I started rebuilding the confidence I had lost."

    While looking for full-time employment, Grisel learned more about preparing taxes while working as part of the team for Opportunity Junction's Do-It-Yourself tax program helping low-income families file their own taxes. "I really enjoyed helping people and learning the new skills through that job. I knew then I wanted to have a career where I worked with people in a meaningful way."

    Grisel's children

    Grisel was hired by local non-profit Brighter Beginnings as a Program and Enrollment Assistant/ Site Coordinator working with underserved families. "I use all my skills at my new job, and even teach others how to use Microsoft Office. I enjoy my job helping other struggling families. I can tell them that their lives can change even when all doors have closed.

    "I am providing for my family again and saving money so I can purchase a home in a better neighborhood for my kids. Thank you Opportunity Junction for opening that door for me. I recently started college to complete my Bachelor's degree, and I look forward to the future. More importantly, I can afford to buy my kids new coats this winter."

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    Chevron Volunteers Discover the "Dos" and "Don'ts" of Interview Attire

    Chevron volunteers What a whirlwind week! We offer our endless gratitude to the Chevron volunteers who came to Opportunity Junction for the Bay Area's annual Corporate Caring Volunteer Week. This event, sponsored by the Volunteer Center of the East Bay, mobilizes thousands of volunteers to help nonprofits around the Bay. Our ambitious Chevron volunteers took on the task of examining and organizing our emergency wardrobe to ensure that our participants have appropriate, professional attire for job interviews.

    Chevron volunteers discarding attire Kristen, Heather, Kim, Lola, and Jef of Chevron took a day out of their normal work schedules to support our mission. They arrived prepared and determined to arrange our wardrobe in an efficient manner. The Chevron team used their knowledge of professional attire to sift through the "Dos" and "Don'ts" of interview apparel; looking for outdated or inappropriate items to discard. The team then proceeded to steam, organize, and label all of the items in the wardrobe.

    Chevron volunteers sorting attire Thanks to the dedication and hard work of the Chevron team, participants will now be able to go into the wardrobe and easily pick out attire that they will feel confident in to ace a job interview. Thank you so much to Kristen and her team for being incredible volunteers from start to finish and taking on this vital project!

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    New Opportunity Junction Program: Get on the Road to College!

    College Connections We are excited to announce that Opportunity Junction, in collaboration with Los Medanos College (LMC), is piloting a program to provide one-on-one customized support for clients to complete a certificate in a short-term, career technical education (CTE) track.

    Participants in this program will enroll in LMC for the spring semester (January 2015 start date) and have an opportunity to earn a certificate leading to high skill, high wage, and high demand careers. Some possible career paths include Emergency Medical Technician, Auto Mechanic, Refinery Operator or preschool teacher.


    This program is unique in that job seekers will design the services offered by Opportunity Junction as part of the planning phase of the pilot. In addition to designing the program and support while enrolled in LMC, each participant will receive individual guidance, information on financial aid resources, enrollment assistance, and individual career coaching and job placement assistance upon completion of the training program.

    Applications for this program are still being accepted! For more information, please contact Natasha DeAlmeida, Career Counselor at (925) 776-1133 or natasha@opportunityjunction.org.

    Thank you to the California Workforce Investment Board for selecting us as one of 18 proposals out of 130 statewide for funding from the Workforce Accelerator Fund.

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    Record-Breaking 19 Graduates in Class 44

    KathleenA record-breaking 19 members of Class 44 of the Job Training and Placement Program graduated on September 25th at the El Campanil Theater. The class was over-subscribed from the beginning, with 21 members enrolled, and only two dropped out over the course of the 12-week training period.

    "We all had the same drive and determination and the will to succeed," explains Nikita Martinez. "We had the same fears as well. We all knew and understood that, and we stood by each other and motivated each other when we felt like giving up. It's like we all walked hand in hand leaving no one behind."

    DanietraRachel Hamelman recalls: "I remember the day Natalie said, 'We have never had a class this large graduate.' We determined we were going to be the largest class of graduates, and we were all in agreement. The 'negative' wanted to come against us, but our words, determination, and help from one another prevailed."

    "There were enough of us," adds Taleah Tuttle, "that everyone was able to find comfort, a friend, someone to relate to; then the same for the next person until we were all just kind of connected, then this amazing group dynamic had formed, and we felt more like family."

    Class 44, which is graduating during our 15th year of offering the program, joins 492 graduates from the 43 previous classes Samto bring us over the 500 mark. Employed alumni of the program - those who completed the entire program - now earn $8 million annually, with the number growing every year.

    Sandy Bustillo, a member of the Founding Board of Directors, joined the graduates as the Special Guest Speaker at the celebration. On the Founding Board, Sandy represented the county's Employment and Human Services Department, and she was instrumental in importing best practices from the world of welfare-to-work. Sandy has been a tireless champion of our program and also honored us with the greatest vote of confidence we can earn: she encouraged her daughter Sadie to apply to the program, and Sadie is a successful alumna from Class 22!

    The ceremony will be aired on CCTV (Contra Costa TV) on the following dates:

    • Monday, October 6th, at 8 pm
    • Wednesday, October 8th, at 3 pm
    • Thursday, October 9th, at 4 pm
    CCTV is available to subscribers of AT&T U-verse on Channel 99. Comcast subscribers can watch CCTV on Channel 27. On Astound, CCTV is Channel 32.

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    New Grants and Support for our Programs

    We are proud and grateful to announce the following new grants and funding partnerships:

    • Antioch Area Community Foundation at the East Bay Community Foundation: The Antioch Area Community Fund generously supports Opportunity Junction's programs for low income East Contra Costa residents who are working to increase their skills and enter good-paying jobs. The Fund supports a number of important programs in the under-served area of East Contra Costa.
    • Chevron: Chevron has issued a grant to support all of our placement producing programs. Chevron has been a valued partner since 2005. Opportunity Junction is proud to have Chevron's support as our Innovation partner.
    • East Bay Community Foundation: The East Bay Community Foundation has been a strong partner for Opportunity Junction for more than a decade and is continuing in its Community Partnership with Opportunity Junction, supporting services in the Foundation's focus areas of "advancing economic security and the education that leads to it."
    • Keller Canyon Landfill Mitigation Fund: Opportunity Junction is proud to have been awarded grant from the County's Keller Canyon Mitigation Fund to support Bay Point and Pittsburg residents participating in our Job Training and Placement Program and the individualized Career Development Services offered at SparkPoint Contra Costa in Bay Point. Supervisor Federal Glover leads the board that administers the funding to support a wide range of programs affecting quality of life for residents in the vicinity of the Keller Canyon Landfill, including public safety, youth development, and community beautification.
    • Tipping Point Community: Tipping Point Community has renewed its support of Opportunity Junction through a grant for core operating support, with goals that include expanding our programs. We are proud to be a part of the Tipping Point Community, making poverty preventable.
    • Y & H Soda Foundation: We are entering into the fifth year of our partnership with the Y & H Soda Foundation for support of the Job Training and Placement Program. The Y & H Soda Foundation supports nonprofit and Catholic organizations committed to the well-being of the underserved in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.
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    Newsletter Contributors: Brianna Burkman, Natasha DeAlmeida, Alissa Friedman, and Kaila Vidal. Photographs by PhotoSophistry (Gala), Brianna Burkman, and Kaila Vidal, and edited by Natasha DeAlmeida. Newsletter assembled by Lea Mason. (Thanks, Lea!)

    On the Road to Self-Sufficiency — Opportunity Junction fights poverty by helping low-income Contra Costa residents gain the skills and confidence to get and keep jobs that support themselves and their families.

    Opportunity Junction is exempt from federal income taxation under Section 501(C)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
    © Opportunity Junction 2014

     

     
     
     
     

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