In This Edition:
Jessica

Thanks to you: Jessica Believes in Herself Again

"Thanks to the training and support of Opportunity Junction, I feel great. I have a job I love where I can envision myself staying for the rest of my life. I'm getting ahead. I am back to taking care of my kids on my own without welfare or food stamps. I'm doing it on my own!" Click here to read the rest of her story...

Bell ringers

Help Us Make Aaron Pay

Aaron Silva knows Opportunity Junction. He served on the Founding Board of Directors, and his business, Paladin fs, is a regular customer of our Staffing Services. His challenge to you: join the Bell Ringers Club at the level of $50 per employment placement, and he’ll add $50 to Paladin’s per placement donation. Read more...

Imagine Gala 2017

Save the Date to our 2017 Imagine Gala: You Can Do It

For 17 years, the lives of low-income families across East Contra Costa County have been transformed thanks to the generosity of our many donors, sponsors, employers and volunteers. The 2017 Imagine Gala, presented by Chevron, honors the hard work and giving spirit of the Opportunity Junction community. Don't miss a gourmet dinner, exciting NEW auction items, and the chance be a part of our Contra Costa neighbors' successes! Celebrate with us on Saturday, April 22, 2017 – you can do it!

Tax preparation assistance

Do-It-Yourself Tax Assistance Ramps Up for 2017

Want your refund fast? Opportunity Junction's Tax Assistance program begins Friday, January 20, 2017. Experienced trainers will lead you through a simple online tool that is free to use if your 2016 income is below $64,000/year. Learn more...

Graduate and family

Join us on a Special Night for the Graduation of Class 51

Join us Friday, February 3 for Class 51 Graduation: Please join us and guest speaker Pittsburg Councilmember Jelani Killings in celebrating the graduation of Class 51 of the Job Training and Placement Program at 7 pm at El Campanil Theater, 602 W. 2nd St., Antioch, CA 94509. Click here to RSVP.

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Thanks to You: Jessica Believes in Herself Again

Jessica

"Opportunity Junction gave me the confidence to believe in myself again and to know that I am more than what shows in my criminal background or the mistakes I have made in my life."

There are experiences and relationships in her past that Jessica Quesada doesn't want to talk about publicly. They were painful and she vowed to move past them. Looking back, though, she is grateful for the three children she adores and is now raising on her own.

Jessica worked hard to provide for her children. She trained for and launched a career as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). She was making it, though money was always tight. But she was haunted by her past and she turned to alcohol to dull the pain.

Everything Jessica had worked to accomplish changed after her 2012 arrest for felony DUI. "I didn't realize how fragile everything in my life was and it was a serious wake-up call. My DUI affected my relationship with my children, and I was eventually fired from my CNA position.

"I found Opportunity Junction when I was at my lowest. For the first time in my life, I signed up for welfare, food stamps, and Medi-Cal to support my children. I thought I was doomed to dead-end jobs because of the mistakes I made and the conviction that followed me.

Jessica at work "But with Opportunity Junction, I felt like everyone genuinely cared about me and my success. Their care for me and the time they spent with me gave me confidence." After completing the Job Training and Placement Program, Jessica worked in two temporary positions before being hired by Contra Costa County as an Animal Services Clerk.

"Before Opportunity Junction, I felt hopeless. I had lost my job, I was a felon, and I had three kids to support. I thought no one would hire me because they would only see what was on my background check. I was afraid to look for work. Even if people liked me in an interview, I thought they would never hire me.

"Thanks to the training and support of OJ, I feel great. I have a job I love where I can envision myself staying for the rest of my life. I'm getting ahead. I am back to taking care of my kids on my own without welfare or food stamps. I'm doing it on my own!"

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Help Us Make Aaron Pay

Aaron Silva knows Opportunity Junction. He served on the Founding Board of Directors, and his business, Paladin fs, is a regular customer of our Staffing Services. His challenge to you: join the Bell Ringers Club at the level of $50 per employment placement, and he'll add $50 to Paladin's per placement donation.

Bell ringers Members of the Bell Ringers Club make donations based on the achievement of meaningful outcomes: placement into employment. The placement is the culmination of months of full-time training, paid work experience, and career skills development. It represents success to our trainees and a quantum jump in their ability to support their families.

Each time a Job Training and Placement Program participant accepts an offer for their first post-program job, they ring the bell that hangs in our reception area. When that happens, Paladin fs, the Alliance of Chief Executives, and an anonymous donor ("A Well-Wisher" on the Bell Ringers Club plaque) together donate $350 to support the program.

Not only has Aaron incentivized our team to work toward those placements, but he has incentivized other donors to join in. Our other two Bell Ringers were directly solicited by Aaron. Now, it's our turn. If you pledge $50 per placement (which you can cap at a maximum donation, if you like), Aaron will increase his pledge, too. Please contact Executive Director This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to learn more about joining.

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Save the Date to our 2017 Imagine Gala: You Can Do It

Imagine Gala 2017 For 17 years, the lives of low-income families across East Contra Costa County have been transformed thanks to the generosity of our many donors, sponsors, employers and volunteers. The 2017 Imagine Gala, presented by Chevron, honors the hard work and giving spirit of the Opportunity Junction community. Don’t miss a gourmet dinner, exciting NEW auction items, and the chance be a part of our Contra Costa neighbors' successes! Celebrate with us on Saturday, April 22, 2017 – you can do it!

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Do-It- Yourself Tax Assistance Ramps Up for 2017

Tax Preparation Assistance program Did you know that Opportunity Junction provides tax preparation assistance? Our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)-certified tax staff will lead you through a simple online tool called MyFreeTaxes.com and answer questions you may have about your tax situation. Even better, submitting your return online using this tool is free if your 2016 income is below $64,000 per year. Sessions started last week and run every weekend through April 15th. For a complete list of session dates and times and to sign up for a session, please check our website.

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Join us on a special night for the graduation of Class 51

Graduating class 51


Join us Friday, February 3 for Class 51 Graduation: Please join us and guest speaker Pittsburg Councilmember Jelani Killings in celebrating the graduation of Class 51 of the Job Training and Placement Program at 7 pm at El Campanil Theater, 602 W. 2nd St., Antioch, CA 94509. Click here to RSVP.

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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:

Chevron: Chevron has made a grant to support the Job Training and Placement Program, our Career Development Services, and the Road Map to College. In addition, Chevron has agreed to serve as the Presenting Sponsor of the 2017 Imagine Gala. Chevron strives to build lasting partnerships to create prosperity now and for decades to come.

Community Services Bureau: Contra Costa County's Community Services Bureau (CSB) has contracted with Opportunity Junction to provide the flagship Job Training and Placement Program to low-income residents of Contra Costa County. The CSB is part of a national network of Community Action Agencies established by the 1964 War on Poverty to address the underlying conditions that cause poverty.

NRG: NRG has renewed its support for Bay Point and Pittsburg residents participating in our Job Training and Placement Program. NRG has also provided key support to Opportunity Junction during its annual Global Day of Giving and as a Silver Sponsor of the Imagine Gala. NRG supports initiatives designed to help those in need and improve the quality of life for all in the communities they serve.

Umpqua Bank Charitable Foundation: Umpqua Bank Charitable Foundation has issued a grant to support the Job Training and Placement Program. Umpqua Bank takes great pride in its commitment to serving and supporting our communities, and we deeply appreciate its support of this work.

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Newsletter Contributors: Eva Luo, Brianna Robinson, Melinda Johnson, and Alissa Friedman. Photographs by Brianna Robinson, Eva Luo, PhotoSophistry.com, and Alissa Friedman (with editing 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 2017