"I am hopeful about what the future holds."

Jackie and Family

Jackie learned early that life doesn't always go as planned. She stepped into the parent role for her six siblings when no one else could and spent years raising them. When she married her husband, Eric, starting a family of her own was never a priority. "My husband and I were both very happy working hard and spoiling our nieces and nephews whenever possible," she shares.

After 17 years working for the same grocery company, however, Jackie was called upon again to serve in the parent role for a family member who was entering foster care. "When the opportunity arose to care for our son, Lawrence, it was a no-brainer. I happily left my job of 17 years to commit to being a new mom.

Jackie in classJackie dived into motherhood loving her role as a stay-at-home mom for 14 years. "I would never change my choice to stay home. As my son was nearing high school, I started thinking about wanting something more. My decision was solidified when my husband became disabled and was no longer able to work. We had to switch roles, and I had to find a job."

But reentering the workforce didn't go as smoothly as Jackie had hoped. "I thought it would be easy because I never had a problem finding a job before, but I didn't have the skills. I started to feel horrible about myself and stupid. I felt broken and scared to death that I would let my family down. We were burning through our savings. When I heard about Opportunity Junction at the unemployment office, I thought the program was too good to be true, but I was desperate.

Jackie at graduation "I am so glad I took that chance. I learned so much from others in my class and their personal stories. We were all fighting for something better for ourselves. I also rebuilt my confidence through our lifeskills lessons and proving I could master the new computer skills. OJ really made me stretch my comfort level, but everyone was so supportive in every way."

Jackie now works for Contra Costa County as an experienced level clerk.

Jackie and son"Although I am just starting out in my new career, I am hopeful about what the future holds. My new position has the benefits and retirement plan most important to my family, and we are rebuilding our savings. I didn't have a role model for motherhood and doubted if I would ever be good enough. Being a mom to my son is the pride of my life. I am thankful now that I have the career to be able to support my family."