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March 2015 Newsletter

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In This Edition:
  • Thanks to You: Niya is Defying the Odds
  • Got Your Hat Yet?
  • Opportunity Junction named 2014 Nonprofit of the Year by Antioch Chamber
  • Help From Afar
  • Niya Trapps and her son
    "Thank you Opportunity Junction for helping me to become a strong, confident professional."
    Thanks to You: Niya is Defying the Odds
    Niya Trapps defied the odds from the beginning. The daughter of a teen mom and a father in and out of her life, Niya's success was never handed to her. She started working when she was just 14 to help pay bills around the house and excelled in school to earn a path to college at Sacramento State. Two months into her new career after graduation, Niya suffered a seizure and was diagnosed with epilepsy. She lost her driver's license because of her seizures and then her job because she needed a license for the position. Unable to support herself, Niya then lost her focus, her dream, and her hope. Niya found Opportunity Junction and learned new skills to change her career and rebuild her confidence. She is now a Customer Service Representative with Old Republic Title Company. "I am so happy to have a permanent job with health benefits! This program changed my outlook on life and made me appreciate things. I'm now off welfare and food stamps-I'm finally making it on my own. I look at my son and know that everything I've accomplished creates the right example for him." Here's what your support helped Niya accomplish…
    2015 Gala Logo
    Got Your Hat Yet?
    It's been 15 years since Opportunity Junction opened our doors to help the local community and we couldn't have done it without your help. Celebrate with us! The gala is Saturday, April 25th at Diablo Country Club.
    Award presentation at Antioch Chamber Opportunity Junction Named Nonprofit of the Year by Antioch Chamber
    Opportunity Junction was honored as the 2014 Nonprofit of the Year at the Antioch Chamber of Commerce annual gala March 13, 2015. We were particularly proud to be nominated by Job Training and Placement Program intern, Terri Martin, and to be selected in a field that included other well-regarded local organizations. The event also featured awards for Business of the Year, Citizen of the Year, and Youth of the Year. Read more…
    Julia Help from Afar
    Meet Julia our "Manusje van alles" volunteer from Holland. She's been putting in long hours to help Contra Costa residents, doing everything from data entry and participant follow-up, to revising resumes and job applications, to grading students' assignments and helping to distribute the weekly Food Bank provisions. Read more…

    New Grants | Wish List

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    Thanks to You: Niya is Defying the Odds

    Niya Trapps and her son

    Niya Trapps defied the odds from the beginning. The daughter of a teen mom and a father in and out of her life, Niya's success was never handed to her. She started working when she was just 14 to help pay bills around the house and excelled in school to earn a path to college. Enrolled in Sacramento State, she decided to major in social work to best prepare for a career helping others.

    Niya faced challenges when she discovered she was pregnant while in college. Things got worse when her son was born, and Niya realized she would be raising her child alone because of a domestic violence situation. She remained committed to her education, however, and managed to stay in school while raising her son, graduating with a Bachelors Degree. The odds were finally in her favor when she found a career-path job shortly after graduation working with adults with disabilities.

    Two months into her new career, Niya suffered a seizure and was diagnosed with epilepsy. She lost her driver's license because of her seizures and then her job because she needed a license for the position. Unable to support herself, Niya then lost her focus, her dream, and her hope. She fell into depression as she saw her life living out the image she fought against her whole life: Niya was now receiving welfare and food stamps, raising her son alone, losing her car to repossession, and living with her grandmother because she couldn't support herself.

    Niya with her son sitting on a tree branch

    "This was not my plan," Niya shares. "I didn't want my son to see me like this. In the world I envisioned for myself, I was raising my son with his father; I was employed using my degree. It was degrading and embarrassing to be the only one in my family to go to college and to still not be able to make it."

    Niya heard about the Job Training and Placement Program while working with our career counselors at SparkPoint Contra Costa East. With her medical condition and her future uncertain, Niya believed that the administrative training would be her best bet for re-entering the workforce.

    "The program was so much more than computer skills," Niya shares. "I worked with the therapist to really learn to set limits with people and to overcome the depression, self-medication, and self-doubt I was experiencing because of my epilepsy and my feelings of failure. OJ also implanted in me how to be professional in the workplace. I'll never lose that."

    Niya is now a Customer Service Representative with Old Republic Title Company. "I am so happy to have a permanent job with health benefits! This program changed my outlook on life and made me appreciate things. I'm now off welfare and food stamps - I'm finally making it on my own. I look at my son and know that what I've accomplished creates the right example for him."

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    Got Your Hat Yet?

    OJ Staff with hats Hats off to you: the employers, donors, sponsors, and volunteers who, for 15 years, have been making it possible for low-income families in East Contra Costa to transform their lives. The 2015 Imagine Gala will celebrate the hundreds of families rescued from poverty and more than $8 million earned by Job Training and Placement Program alumni last year alone. This is possible because of you. Celebrate with us!

    Opportunity Junction's 2015 Imagine Gala
    Saturday, April 25th
    5:30-11 pm

    Diablo Country Club
    1700 Club House Road
    Diablo, CA 94528


    We believe that everyone who is willing to work hard deserves an opportunity to succeed. 90% of our graduates find a job within 3 months of completing Opportunity Junction's Job Training and Placement Program.

    Please celebrate with us, and wear a hat, any hat!

    Complimentary hors d'oeuvres and wine with a no-host bar. Bid on fabulous silent auction items from local merchants and California wineries. Gourmet dinner, live auction and dancing to celebrate all that IS POSSIBLE.

    Please join our presenting sponsor Chevron, as well as Wells Fargo Bank, A.D. Seeno Construction Co., Diablo Magazine and many others in breaking the cycle of poverty for our Contra Costa neighbors. Click here for the complete list of sponsors.

    RSVP online at www.OpportunityJunction.org/tickets. Tickets are $150 each. Cocktail attire, no denim please.

    Contact Rebecca at Rebecca@OpportunityJunction.org for more information.

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    Opportunity Junction named 2014 Nonprofit of the Year by Antioch Chamber

    Alissa Friedman at award ceremony

    Opportunity Junction was honored as the 2014 Nonprofit of the Year at the Antioch Chamber of Commerce annual gala March 13, 2015. We were particularly proud to be nominated by Job Training and Placement Program intern, Terri Martin, and to be selected in a field that included other well-regarded local organizations. The event also featured awards for Business of the Year, Citizen of the Year, and Youth of the Year.

    The Dreambuilders Inaugural Gala, which includes the inauguration of the new Chamber Chair and Board, drew an impressive array of community and government leaders, including Congressman Jerry McNerney and Assemblymember Susan Bonilla. Antioch Mayor Wade Harper took the podium and praised the Chamber for its ground-breaking work in economic development (the EC2 summits) and in addressing suburban poverty.

    Alissa Friedman accepting award The other category winners included:

    • Youth of the Year: Eboni Agee
    • Small Business of the Year: Paula's Family Florist
    • Large/Corporate Business of the Year: The Dow Chemical Company
    • Citizen of the Year, Lifetime Achievement: Tom Menasco
    • Citizen of the Year, Most Impact: Tom Hartrick

    The other nominees for Nonprofit of the Year included Loaves and Fishes of Contra Costa (which provides hot lunch for Job Training and Placement Program participants), An Elderly Wish Foundation, and The Bedford Center.

    Donate Now Back to top

    Help From Afar

    Julia Hi, I'm Julia, currently volunteering at Opportunity Junction and I'm from Holland. Someone from Holland, ending up in Antioch, California; how does that happen?

    Well, my parents have always worked for Dow, and since 2013 they have been working for Dow AgroScience in Pittsburg. I heard about Opportunity Junction through Dow. I got interested in the program and got in touch about possibilities for volunteering. I decided to join my parents and enjoy California for a couple of months.

    I recently obtained my Bachelor's degree in Psychology at Leiden University. Then I completed a pre-master's program in Industrial & Organizational Psychology at the University of Amsterdam. In this field, the focus is on organizations and their workers. You learn how to improve organizational functioning, but also how to improve workers' well-being and help them do their best possible work. I am particularly interested in human resources, and making sure people end up in the right places (at work): somewhere that they feel comfortable, use their skills and are of value to the organization.

    Here at Opportunity Junction I get to learn a lot about the organization and how they help people gain the confidence and skills, but also the willingness to perform well on the job. And I love it. OJ is doing a great job: all staff members, volunteers, participants and everyone involved.

    At Opportunity Junction, I would describe my job with the Dutch expression "Manusje van alles". It means you're doing a bit of everything, and that's what I do. I help with data entry and participant follow-up, revising resumes and job applications, grading students' assignments and helping to distribute the weekly Food Bank provisions. I've been given the chance to give my input in meetings and workshops. I can use the knowledge I gained at the university and I am learning a lot myself. I've enjoyed my Opportunity Junction experience thus far, and I'm sure it will only get better once I get to know the organization better, the people involved, and all they do for the community. I'm excited for what the coming weeks at OJ will bring me.

    Editor's Note: BIG shout-out to Julia - she's putting in 20 hours a week on behalf of the low-income residents of Contra Costa and doing a terrific job!

    Donate Now Back to top



    New Grants and Support for our Programs

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

    Community Services Block Grant Community Services Block Grant: The Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) provides funds to alleviate the causes and conditions of poverty in communities. CSBG funding supports projects that: lessen poverty in communities, address the needs of low-income individuals including the homeless, migrants and the elderly, and provides services and activities addressing employment, education, better use of available income, housing, nutrition, emergency services and/or health.

    Dean and Margaret Lesher Foundation Dean and Margaret Lesher Foundation The Dean and Margaret Lesher Foundation has supported Opportunity Junction since June of 2000, shortly after the organization's founding and the launch of our flagship Job Training and Placement Program. We are in the third year of a three-year grant that helps sustain our programs. The Lesher Foundation provides grants to nonprofits in Contra Costa County to support education, the arts, and children and families.


    Lowell Berry Foundation Lowell Berry Foundation: The Lowell Berry Foundation is again joining the roster of funding partners for the Job Training and Placement Program. The foundation is committed to serving the local community by providing a safety net for those in need while focusing on organizations that effectively shape lives and build leaders for tomorrow.

    Tipping Point Community Tipping Point Community: Tipping Point Community has renewed its support of Opportunity Junction through grants for targeted investments in database development and executive coaching. We are proud to be a part of the Tipping Point Community, making poverty preventable.

    Donate Now Back to top


    Newsletter Contributors: Brianna Burkman, Alissa Friedman, Rebecca Riley, and Julia Van Eijs. Photographs by Brianna Burkman, Eva Luo, and Tony Tiscareno, 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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