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May 2015 Newsletter

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In This Edition:
  • Thanks to You: Sherie's Entrepreneurial Spirit is Reignited
  • Hats Off to You for Raising More Than $100,000
  • NRG Tackles Volunteer Projects with Energy
  • Welcome to New Staffer Eva Luo
  • Councilmember Wilson to Speak at Record-Tying Graduation
  • Sherie and her son
    "With the guidance and mentoring I received at Opportunity Junction, I was able to find my path and know that I'm on the right one."
    Thanks to You: Sherie's Entrepreneurial Spirit is Reignited
    A single phone call. That's all it took to change Cheryl Jayubo-Williams (Sherie) and her two-year old son's lives. Sherie was living an American rags to riches story with her husband of seven years. Together, they opened a mobile clothing store. Sherie was successfully balancing her roles as entrepreneur, wife, and mother. And then she received the phone call. Her husband had been murdered in a robbery of their mobile store in Richmond, a murder that is still unsolved. Ten years and several failed businesses later, Sherie found Opportunity Junction. She was placed in an administrative position with an insurance company. Her new skills helped her excel at the job, but her newfound confidence and connection to the world reignited her entrepreneurial spirit. This spirit encouraged her to take a chance and say yes to a different kind of employment opportunity. A local photographer was seeking an apprentice to whom she could teach the trade. This was the perfect opportunity to marry her creative side, her new computer savvy, and her entrepreneurial mind. "I'm living life well now, the right way for my son. I even purchased him a camera and he carries it everywhere! I know I've found my path and am ready for our future." Here's what your support helped Sherie accomplish…
    2015 Gala
    Hats Off to You for Raising More Than $100,000
    Fun and fashion kicked off our 2015 Imagine Gala, Hats Off to You, on Saturday, April 25th at the Diablo Country Club. In addition to being a great night of bidding, imbibing, eating, and dancing, our guests, sponsors, and donors helped us net more than $100,000 needed to support our life-changing employment programs. The program featured the success story of alumna Elizabeth Lopez. Read more…
    NRG volunteer NRG Tackles Volunteer Projects with Energy
    Teams of volunteers from NRG Energy's Antioch and Pittsburg sites descended on our Antioch office and Bay Point's Ambrose Community Center to honor the company's Global Giving Day the week of May 11th. "We can do that," was the refrain from Larry Penn, Plant Manager for the Pittsburg and Marsh Landing generating stations each time we described another project during his pre-event scouting expedition. Read more…
    Eva Luo
    Welcome to New Staffer Eva Luo
    We are thrilled to announce the newest addition to Opportunity Junction's staff. Eva joins us as the new Development and Volunteer Coordinator after completing a year of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA in Texas where she worked as a Literacy Coordinator for the Arlington Public Library. In her new role she will be providing support to our development team and recruiting, training, and scheduling volunteers! Get to know her...
    Councilmember Monica Wilson
    Councilmember Wilson to Speak at Record-Tying Graduation
    A record-tying 19 members of Class 46 of the Job Training and Placement Program will graduate on May 28th at the El Campanil Theater. The Honorable Monica Wilson, Antioch City Councilmember, will serve as our Special Guest Speaker. Councilmember Wilson is also a Workforce Development Board staffer and the organizer of the East Contra Costa Women's Leadership Initiative. The ceremony is free and open to the public, and it begins at 7 pm. RSVP Here!

    New Grants | Wish List

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    Thanks to You: Sherie's Entrepreneurial Spirit is Reignited

    Sherie and her family

    A single phone call. That's all it took to change Cheryl Jayubo-Williams (Sherie) and her two-year old son's lives.

    Sherie was living an American rags to riches story with her husband of seven years. When they met and married, Sherie grew up into a responsible partner and loving mother. Together, they opened a mobile clothing store and a brick and mortar site with impressive sales and promising growth. Sherie was successfully balancing her roles as entrepreneur, wife, and mother.

    And then she received the phone call. Her husband had been murdered in a robbery of their mobile store in Richmond, a murder that is still unsolved.

    Sherie Jayubo-Williams

    Sherie's life went into a tailspin. She numbly tried to continue but was unable to keep the businesses afloat without her partner and while raising a two-year old suddenly alone. As the years passed, she found herself with two failed businesses and in a series of dead end jobs never finding a place where she truly belonged. "Because I couldn't find meaningful employment, I was looking for a volunteer position to pay it forward, to fulfill me in some way. I felt totally lost with my life," Sherie shares.

    Sherie found Opportunity Junction as she searched for volunteer opportunities in the community. She knew she didn't have the skills for administrative employment and hoped that volunteering would give her meaning and hone her skills. "I was very excited, and was looking forward to being the receptionist. From day one I felt like I belonged. I was always greeted with a friendly smile by staff, alumni, interns, and trainees. After understanding the Job Training and Placement Program, I thought it was an amazing opportunity and was encouraged to apply."

    Sherie and son Sherie embraced every opportunity provided in the program. She learned new skills, and, more importantly to her, reconnected with the world and made long-term connections and friends. "Meeting all the new trainees was great, and we became close quickly. I struggled, and there were times I wanted to give up. But I knew this was a short amount of time in my life, and I needed to not feel like a failure."

    Through an Opportunity Junction employer connection, Sherie left with a position with an insurance company. Her new skills helped her excel at the job, but her newfound confidence and connection to the world reignited her entrepreneurial spirit. This spirit encouraged her to take a chance and say yes to a different kind of employment opportunity Opportunity Junction brought to her. A local photographer, Gurpreet Singh of Kaur Photography, was seeking an apprentice to whom she could teach the trade. This was the perfect opportunity to marry her creative side, her new computer savvy, and her entrepreneurial mind.

    Sherie and son "I had no idea what path I wanted to take when I found Opportunity Junction. With the guidance and mentoring I received here, I was able to find my path and know that I'm on the right one." Sherie now holds her own photography sessions and uses advanced editing software to create the perfect family images.

    "I'm living life well now, the right way for my son. I even purchased him a camera and he carries it everywhere! I know he has his father's spirit and goodness and will be ok. And I know I've found my path and am ready for our future."

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    Hats Off to You for Raising More Than $100,000

    Nicola Fraser and Tracy Craig Fun and fashion kicked off our 2015 Imagine Gala, Hats Off to You, on Saturday, April 25th at the Diablo Country Club. In addition to being a great night of bidding, imbibing, eating, and dancing, our guests, sponsors, and donors helped us net more than $100,000 needed to support our life-changing employment programs. The program featured the success story of alumna Elizabeth Lopez.

    The portrait gallery, set up and staffed by David and Nicola Fraser, of PhotoSophistry.com, was a popular spot before dinner. Assisted by job training alumna Sherie Jayubo-Williams, the Frasers provided instant printouts of whimsical photographs featuring a dizzying array of hats and hat-like objects. Click here to go directly to the evening's photographs.


    Carol Altwarg, Mary Ann Shattuck, and Kathy Leahy Opportunity Junction is fortunate to have a dedicated Gala Committee that helps plan the event, generate interest, and solicit auction donations. The event wouldn't be nearly as much fun, nor would it raise nearly as much funding, without the hard work and generosity of our volunteer Gala Committee: Kathy Leahy, Betty Stokes, Mary Ann Shattuck, Carol Altwarg, Cathy Carle, and Elinor Axup.



    The J. Stokes Agency table Presented by Chevron, the gala was particularly successful because of the number of sponsors who purchased tables or half-tables. In addition to Presenting Sponsor Chevron, the event was supported by two Platinum Sponsors (Seeno Homes and Wells Fargo), five Gold Sponsors (including J.Stokes Agency, pictured here, Temen, Kaiser and Cameron, Craig Communications, Future State, and Garaventa Enterprises, Diablo Magazine (Media Sponsor), five Silver sponsors, and eight bronze sponsors. The full list is here.

    Executive Director Alissa Friedman sings Hats Off to You Sponsors were thanked in our traditional way, with a gala-themed song written by Executive Director Alissa Friedman (to an arguably recognizable tune). Once again, we forgot to record the live performance, but a "lost my voice" post-Gala version is available here, and the lyrics are available here. We also extended our gratitude to the staff members and alumni volunteers who ran the event and to the elected officials who attended or sent representatives (and who support our work): Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, who has helped us raise our public profile and who serves on our Advisory Board, along with her Chief of Staff Luiz Quinonez; Pleasant Hill Mayor Ken Carlson; representing County Supervisor Federal Glover, Chief of Staff David Fraser; and representing Supervisor Mary Piepho, Field Representative Alicia Nuchols.

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    NRG Tackles Volunteer Projects with Energy

    Volunteers brought their own tools and materials Teams of volunteers from NRG Energy's Antioch and Pittsburg sites descended on our Antioch office and Bay Point's Ambrose Community Center to honor the company's Global Giving Day the week of May 11th. "We can do that," was the refrain from Larry Penn, Plant Manager for the Pittsburg and Marsh Landing generating stations each time we described another project during his pre-event scouting expedition. Projects included improving security cameras and lighting, hanging a freeway-facing banner, and repairing doors and projector mounts.





    NRG rented a lift so they could remove the obstructions from the security camera "We're so grateful for this help," says Gloria Holbrook, Office Manager. "NRG takes care of all of the details and manages each project from start to finish." To give our security cameras a better view of the parking lot, the volunteer team first had to trim back an overgrown tree and then adjust the angle of the camera. When the final check was complete, Program Associate Lynn Kwasny smiled broadly at the front desk security screen.



    NRG commissioned a large banner to help job-seekers find us The company even commissioned a banner to hang from the back of our building, letting the passing freeway traffic know where to find us. With so many local job-seekers looking for help with training or career counseling, the banner is guaranteed to help with outreach. We are grateful for NRG's investment in our work, on all fronts.

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    Welcome to New Staffer Eva Luo

    Eva Luo We are thrilled to announce the newest addition to Opportunity Junction's staff: Eva Luo. Eva joins us as the new Development and Volunteer Coordinator after completing a year of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA in Texas where she worked as a Literacy Coordinator for the Arlington Public Library. In her new role, she will be providing support to our development team as well as recruiting, training, and scheduling volunteers!

    As a Literary Coordinator, Eva was primarily responsible for recruiting, training, and supervising volunteers for a volunteer-based literacy program that teaches low-income children to read and write. Eva also co-coordinated the Arlington Public Library's 5th annual 5K and one-mile run.

    What draws her to both AmeriCorps and Opportunity Junction is their mission to fight poverty. Eva experienced poverty first-hand growing up in San Francisco, born to Chinese immigrants who barely spoke English. It was struggle for her parents to have a job with a wage sufficient to support a family of six. Her humble beginnings have led her to the pursue work with the intent to fight poverty.

    Eva says, "I always knew I wanted a career where I could be part of a community that uplifts people, the way that my community uplifted my family. I am so excited to part of the Opportunity Junction team: their work is truly life-changing. I am looking forward to cultivating relationships with members of our community."

    Eva moved to Antioch to be part of the community she is serving. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Managerial Economics from University of California at Davis.

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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:

    East Bay Community Foundation The Anonymous Fund at the East Bay Community Foundation: The Anonymous Fund at the East Bay Community Foundation has issued a grant of extremely valuable core operating support. While we allocate most unrestricted funds to program support, core operating support also enables us to maintain a strong infrastructure (technology, finance) and to pilot promising new initiatives.

    The California Wellness Foundation The California Wellness Foundation: The Foundation's mission is to improve the health of the people of California by making grants for health promotion, wellness education and disease prevention. The Foundation is now funding Opportunity Junction in recognition of the strong correlation between economic stability and health.

    Community Development Block Grant Programs of Antioch, Pittsburg, and Contra Costa Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Programs of Antioch, Pittsburg, and Contra Costa: : The CDBG programs of the City of Antioch, the City of Pittsburg, and Contra Costa County have all renewed their contracts for support of the Job Training and Placement Program. In addition, the City of Pittsburg CDBG program is has contracted with us for the evening Technology Center, providing their residents with classes in computer applications, English as a Second Language, and Spanish, and Contra Costa's CDBG program is partnering to support our individualized Career Development Services at SparkPoint Contra Costa in Bay Point.

    The Strive for Change Foundation The Strive for Change Foundation: The Foundation recently made a grant to support our programs that help the working poor in the East Bay achieve economic self-sufficiency. Each year, the Foundation starts from scratch to raise all of the money it gives away to Opportunity Junction and other effective East Bay organizations.

    Wells Fargo The Wells Fargo Foundation: Wells Fargo continues its long and substantial support to Opportunity Junction. Their recent grant to support the Job Training and Placement Program represents more than a decade of support for this life-changing program. Wells Fargo also provides important volunteer support for the organization and our job-seekers.

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    Newsletter Contributors: Brianna Burkman, Alissa Friedman, and Eva Luo. Photographs by Brianna Burkman, PhotoSophistry.com, and Lisa Franklin, 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 2015

     

     
     
     
     

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