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March 2014 Newsletter

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In This Edition:
  • Thanks to You: Elizabeth Won't Be a Statistic
  • Epic, Outstanding, and Lots of Fun!
  • Have You Met Lisa and Natasha?
  • Loaves and Fishes Cooks Up Lunch
  • Employer Spotlight: Nelson Staffing
  • Elizabeth and her Daughter
    "I have never felt so grateful to anyone before. Thanks to Opportunity Junction, I am in the career I always wanted instead of being a statistic."
    Thanks to you: Elizabeth and her daughter are on their way
    Elizabeth shares, "The lessons that Opportunity Junction taught me were more than how to use a computer. I learned how to be the professional in the workplace who deserves the promotion. My first position after the internship was a temporary assignment for 90 days. The first several weeks were not what I expected, and I spent hours packing and unpacking boxes in the basement. Every time I considered quitting, I could hear Norman's (Cheng, Manager of Technology Training) voice in my head telling stories of other alumni who kept at it even when things were rough. I knew this was my opportunity to be that success story and prove to my company that I was worth hiring on. And it paid off! Almost three months into my assignment, I was promoted, given my own office, and earned a huge raise!" Here's how she did it, thanks to your support.
    Gala Logo: Imagine, Believe, Achieve

    Epic, Outstanding, and Lots of Fun!

    That's what we're predicting everyone to say about this year's Imagine Gala, presented by Chevron. All are welcome and will be enthusiastically included in the fun. The best part is the warm, fuzzy feeling you'll get for helping the low-income residents of Contra Costa County get good jobs! Click here for more information.
    Lisa Franklin
    Have You Met Lisa and Natasha?

    We are excited to welcome two new staff members: Lisa Franklin as our new Manager of Professional Development, supervising interns in our Job Training and Placement Program; and Natasha DeAlmeida, Career Counselor, serving job-seekers out of our Antioch office. Read more...
    Estelle Evans
    Loaves and Fishes Cooks Up Lunch

    Opportunity Junction job training participants have one less thing to worry about, with a free lunch served in our office daily. Loaves and Fishes was already on board as a hiring partner, and now they're helping our aspiring job-seekers stay well-nourished during training. Estelle Evans is one of our volunteers who picks up the food from the Loaves and Fishes kitchen every day. Read more...
    Nelson Staffing

    Employer Spotlight: Nelson Staffing

    Placing the right candidate in the right job is the foundation for long-term success, both for our job-seekers and for their employers. The skills need to be right, and so do the intangibles. Fortunately, we have a real partner in Nelson Staffing. Read more...

    New Grants | Wish List

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    Thanks to You: Elizabeth Won't Be a Statistic

    Elizabeth and daughter seated in tree

    With a young daughter to raise, Elizabeth Lopez needed to enter the workforce immediately. She had hoped that her medical assisting certificate would be all she needed, but she quickly discovered that she did not earn enough in that position to make ends meet. Discouraged at her prospects and not sure where else to turn, Elizabeth started to feel depressed about the future and how she would be able to take care of her daughter.

    Elizabeth learned about Opportunity Junction from her childcare provider and knew it was the perfect next step in her training. Elizabeth says, "Not only was the training thorough and challenging, but I have never felt so grateful to anyone before as I do to everyone at Opportunity Junction. There are so many people like me who just don't have the skills or the knowledge to get to the next step; I couldn't believe that there were people who truly cared to help us like this for no cost!"

    Elizabeth and daughter at playground

    Elizabeth truly internalized Opportunity Junction's message of always being professional, under-promising and over-delivering, and being the one in the office who says, "Yes." Elizabeth shares, "My first position after the internship was a temporary assignment for 90 days. The first several weeks were not what I expected, and I spent hours packing and unpacking boxes in the basement. Every time I considered quitting, I could hear Norman's (Cheng, Manager of Technology Training) voice in my head telling stories of other alumni who kept at it even when things were rough. I knew this was my opportunity to be that success story and prove to my company that I was worth hiring on. And it paid off!" Just three months into her assignment, Elizabeth earned a promotion, her own office, and a huge raise! The lessons that Opportunity Junction taught her were more than how to use a computer; she learned how to be the professional in the workplace who deserves the promotion.

    Elizabeth carrying her daughter

    "Thanks to Opportunity Junction, my life is so much better. I just moved into my own place, and I will be off all government assistance by next month. I am not going to be a statistic. I am a professional and a mother, and I am able to support my family."

    Donate Now Back to top

    Epic, Outstanding, and Lots of Fun!

    Saturday, April 26, 2014, 6 pm
    Diablo Country Club, Diablo

    The 2014 Imagine Gala Our annual Imagine Gala, presented by Chevron will be held at the Diablo Country Club and feature complementary hors d'oeuvres and wine, live and silent auctions, a delicious dinner, plus dancing.

    Purchase tickets now!

    We would love donated items for our silent and live auctions. Please contact Rebecca Riley, Director of Development, for more information on auction donations and event sponsorships.

    Presenting Sponsor:
    Chevron

    Platinum Sponsors:
    Seeno Homes
    Wells Fargo
    Gold Sponsors:
    Craig Communications
    Future State
    Garaventa Enterprises
    J. Stokes Agency
    Temen, Kaiser & Cameron
    Media Sponsors:
    Contra Costa Times
    Diablo Magazine
    Silver Sponsors:
    CFOs2Go
    Cosmetic Dental Spa
    Dow Chemical
    Mechanics Bank
    NRG Energy
    Phillips 66
    Wise Construction
    Bronze Sponsors:
    Kaiser Permanente
    Pittsburg Power Company
    Travis Credit Union
    Donate Now Back to top


    Have You Met Lisa and Natasha?

    We are excited to welcome two new staff members: Lisa Franklin as our new Manager of Professional Development, supervising interns in our Job Training and Placement Program; and Natasha DeAlmeida, Career Counselor, serving clients out of our Antioch office.

    Lisa Franklin

    Lisa comes to us from Kaiser Permanente, where she ran a career development program for employees in Northern California. Lisa has been a career development professional in the Bay Area since the early 1990s. Over the years, she has assisted injured workers; Alameda County residents who have lost their jobs due to downsizing; low-income adults in Oakland and San Francisco; and people with criminal records. In the early 2000s, she and her husband experienced long-term unemployment firsthand when he was laid off from an IT management job at Gap and went without work for a year and a half. Their story had a happy ending, when her husband received retraining via a government grant to become a teacher.

    Lisa had been aware of Opportunity Junction for many years and was always impressed by the agency's holistic approach to helping low-income adults gain self-sufficiency. "Landing here was meant to be," Lisa said. "I'm proud to be a part of this very dedicated staff. They clearly care about the people they serve. Everything we do here is geared toward ensuring a successful outcome."

    Natasha DeAlmeida

    Natasha DeAlmeida joins us as the new Career Counselor in Antioch, where she will serve as the initial point of contact for clients who express interest in our career development services. Among other responsibilities, Natasha is in charge of conducting weekly orientations for potential participants, meeting with clients for an initial assessment of their career goals and providing them with one-on-one career counseling. An Antioch native, Natasha joins our team with experience in Career Counseling and Advising at two Bay Area arts institutions. Natasha holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Master of Arts degree from Mills College in Oakland in Educational Leadership with a focus on non-profit education. "I am very excited to come back and serve my community with Opportunity Junction," Natasha said. "My hope is to be able to provide the necessary guidance and tools to help my clients with their career goals."

    Donate Now Back to top


    Loaves and Fishes Cooks Up Lunch

    Estelle Evans volunteers to pick up lunch from Loaves and Fishes

    Since early February, local nonprofit Loaves and Fishes has been providing our Job Training and Placement Program participants with free hot lunches. The delicious and healthy lunches range from hearty soups to pasta to baked chicken and come with a side of fruit and a green salad. They are often accompanied by delectable desserts that are popular with all the participants. Not only are they tasty, but as a one participant states, "The lunches have been a really big help to me because I have a very limited food budget. Not having to spend money on lunch lets me spend it on other things my family needs." Another shares, "Some can't afford lunch every day and to receive a hot meal is very much appreciated. Having a hot meal every day reminds me that someone cares."

    In order to deliver hot lunch, we enlisted the help of our wonderful volunteers who were eager to jump in and assist in any way they could. Estelle Evans, our long-term food bank volunteer, saw an obvious correlation between providing food bank assistance and delivering hot lunches. True to her nature, Estelle took on the challenges of volunteering for a new project. From picking up the food to setting up the lunch trays and figuring out how to use the burners, Estelle set the precedent for how to successfully coordinate all that was needed to provide the hot lunch.

    A big thank you to Loaves and Fishes from the Opportunity Junction community for their partnership and to Estelle for her hard work!

    Donate Now Back to top


    Nelson Staffing partnership benefits employers and job-seekers

    Nelson Staffing

    Placing the right candidate in the right job is the foundation for long-term success, both for our job-seekers and for their employers. The skills need to be right, and so do the intangibles. Fortunately, we have a real partner in Nelson Staffing. Nelson’s Christine Lambert and Opportunity Junction’s Rich Berger (Manager of Employer Engagement) have put together an enviable string of successes.

    "Christine has the kind of relationships with her clients that make my job easy," says Rich. "She doesn’t just give me a list of skills needed. She describes the environment, like whether it’s quiet or distracting, and the personalities of employees who have been successful in the past. I can match up our candidates to what the employer needs."

    Christine is just as big a fan of Rich. "We have great communication, and Rich really understands what my clients need," she responds. "Rich knows the candidates really well – sometimes he’s known them for months and watched them at work. He can tell me a lot more than what you’d find on a resume."

    The numbers speak for themselves. In the past two years, Nelson Staffing has partnered with us to place 18 of our candidates into positions averaging a starting wage of $14.16 per hour.

    "I love my job, putting together my clients and the employees they need," concludes Christine. "And working with Opportunity Junction, I am reminded of how important a job can be to a family, to the kids, and to the community."

    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:

    • Lesher FoundationDean & 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 second 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.
    • Contra Costa County Community Services BureauContra Costa County Community Services Bureau: The Community Services Bureau has contracted with Opportunity Junction to provide job training and placement services to Contra Costa residents in poverty. The Bureau's mission is to support individuals and families to thrive as contributing members of the community by providing high quality services and learning opportunities.
    • United Way of the Bay AreaUnited Way of the Bay Area: The United Way of the Bay Area has issued a grant to support our tax assistance services. The United Way of the Bay Area is also a key partner for our SparkPoint Career Development team in Bay Point.
    • Heffernan InsuranceHeffernan Insurance: Heffernan Insurance has issued a grant to suppor the Job Training and Placement Program. Since its inception in 1988, Heffernan has given over $4 million to charity.
    • Lowell Berry FoundationLowell 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.
    • WestAmerica BankWestAmerica Bank: WestAmerica Bank continues to support organizations working to build strong communities in the communities they serve. They have been involved with and supporters of Opportunity Junction since 2004.
    Donate Now Back to top


    Newsletter Contributors: Brianna Burkman, Alissa Friedman, Jacqui Kennedy, and Rebecca Riley. 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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    > Job Training and Placement
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