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Tomisha

Thanks to you: Tomisha is active in her own life again

"I really want to thank Opportunity Junction for coming into my life and helping me figure out my self-worth again. I never thought I would ever be able to do anything except work in retail. At OJ, I learned patience; I learned professionalism; and I became active in my own life again. Now, I am able to work toward my goals of saving to buy a house and for my kids' college. Thank you so much Opportunity Junction for giving me this opportunity to prove to myself I can do anything." Read Tomisha's story...

thermometer

Thanks to you: New technology and program support!

For the 90 people who rely on Opportunity Junction's computer network each week, January arrived with new, faster computers and the latest software. Thanks to our generous year-end donors, and a special capital grant from the Lesher Foundation, we successfully collected matching funds offered by the HEDCO Foundation and Delta Scrap and Salvage. We are grateful! Read more...

graduation

Class 54 graduation night is just the beginning

On Friday, January 26th, you're invited to celebrate graduation with Class 54 of the Job Training and Placement Program. Please join us and guest speaker Honorable Diane Burgis of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors at the graduation of Class 54 at 7 pm at El Campanil Theater, 602 W. 2nd St., Antioch, CA 94509. This may be the end of training, but it is just the beginning for these graduates who are eager for employment. Click here to RSVP.

Gala 2018

Save the Date for the 2018 Imagine Gala

The 2018 Imagine Gala, presented by Chevron, honors the hard work and giving spirit of the Opportunity Junction community. You won't want to miss a gourmet dinner, exciting NEW auction items, lively dancing, and the chance to be a part of your Contra Costa neighbors' successes! Celebrate Connection with us on Saturday, May 5, 2018!...

Tax preparation assistance

Why wait until April 15? 2018 Do-It-Yourself Tax Assistance began in January

Want your refund fast? Opportunity Junction's Tax Assistance program started Friday, January 19, 2018. Experienced trainers will lead you through a simple online tool that is free to use if your 2017 household income is below $66,000. Learn more...

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Thanks to You: Tomisha is active in her own life again

Tomisha

Tomisha Harts found Opportunity Junction just when she needed it most. Although she and her husband had been together since middle school, things had been unraveling since their marriage five years ago. "Things were hard immediately. When we returned from our honeymoon, we discovered that we had lost our housing with short notice. We started our marriage by having to move in with his mother."

Things got worse when Tomisha was laid off from her retail position and was unable to find any other work. "I had been independent my whole life. Then all of a sudden I lost everything about myself-I was living at the mercy of someone else. We worked odd jobs to piece together our bills, but it never seemed to be enough. I couldn't support my children the way I wanted. My life became about helping relatives who were sick just so I could contribute to the household. I just couldn't get back on my feet."

Tomisha was eventually able to find a temporary position with Contra Costa County, but wasn't hired for the permanent role because she didn't have the skills or experience she needed. She knew she needed something more and applied for the Job Training and Placement Program.

Tomisha Harts"I was always the one to help everybody else and do for everyone else. This was finally something for me. Through LifeSkills, I found myself again, which made me a better and more confident person for my kids and my husband. The computer training gave me the skills so I was ready to start my professional career."

When Tomisha finished her internship, she found an administrative position working for Senior Helpers, an organization that provides care for the elderly and aging. She and her family recently moved into their own place.

"I really want to thank Opportunity Junction for coming into my life and helping me figure out my self-worth again. I never thought I would ever be able to do anything except work in retail. I learned patience; I learned professionalism; and I became active in my own life again. Now, I am able to work toward my goals of saving to buy a house and for my kids' college. Thank you so much Opportunity Junction for giving me this opportunity to prove to myself I can do anything."

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With your generosity: New technology and program support!

For the 90 people who rely on Opportunity Junction's computer network each week, January arrived with new, faster computers and the latest software. Thanks to our generous year-end donors, and a special capital grant from the Lesher Foundation, we successfully collected matching funds offered by the HEDCO Foundation and Delta Scrap and Salvage. We are grateful!

thermometer More than a dozen job training alumni "paid it forward," along with a number of users of our evening Technology Center. They were among the 105 donors who gave as part of the HEDCO challenge, Giving Tuesday, and the end-of-year holiday appeal. Combined with funds from a Lesher Foundation grant that was allocated to match the HEDCO Foundation challenge, they exceeded the amount we needed to draw down the matching funds.

"We hit a home run," says Ken Graunstadt of Delta Scrap and Salvage, who challenged us with a $30,000 matching grant for the end-of-year appeal. "I'm so glad to support an organization that has such an impact in the community."

The remainder of the Lesher Foundation capital grant is for the renovation of our bathrooms and expansion of our capacity through building out new private office spaces. The bathroom project, which was also supported by a significant contract with the Community Development Block Grant program of Contra Costa, was completed during December. We could not have embarked on the renovations without the excellent work of Brandon Marshall of Fog Studio, who provided us with pro bono architectural services. And we were delighted with our contractor, Grace Construction, which completed the project ahead of schedule so that our January job training candidates would not be applying for the program amidst the mess of a working construction site!

With the end-of-year matching grants behind us, we're recruiting new members of the Bell Ringers Club and launching our 2018 Imagine Gala campaign. Bell Ringers Club members challenge our program staff by offering a set donation for each unique initial placement. It provides us with year-round funding and a fundraising incentive aligned with our core program outcome. However you choose to support our work, whether through donations, volunteering your time, or spreading the word about Opportunity Junction's programs, we thank you for being part of the Opportunity Junction family!

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Class 54 graduation night is just the beginning

graduating class On Friday, January 26th, you're invited to celebrate graduation with Class 54 of the Job Training and Placement Program. Please join us and guest speaker Honorable Diane Burgis of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors at the graduation of Class 54 at 7 pm at El Campanil Theater, 602 W. 2nd St., Antioch, CA 94509. This may be the end of training, but it is just the beginning for these graduates who are eager for employment. Click here to RSVP.

 

 

 

 

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Save the Date for the 2018 Imagine Gala

Gala 2018 For 18 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 2018 Imagine Gala, presented by Chevron, honors the hard work and giving spirit of the Opportunity Junction community. You won't want to miss a gourmet dinner, exciting NEW auction items, lively dancing, and the chance to be a part of your Contra Costa neighbors' successes! Celebrate Connection with us on Saturday, May 5, 2018!...

 

 

 

 

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Why wait until April 15? 2018 Do-It-Yourself Tax Assistance began in January

Tax Preparation Assistance program Want your refund fast? Opportunity Junction's Tax Assistance program began Friday, January 19, 2018. Experienced trainers will lead you through a simple online tool that is free to use if your 2017 household income is below $66,000.

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 2017 household income is below $66,000. Our first tax sessions were held on Friday, January 19th at 6:00 PM and Saturday, January 20th at 10:00 AM and run every weekend through April 14th.

For a complete list of session dates and times and to sign up for a session, please check our website. The website also includes a list of the items you'll need to bring with you to be ready to complete your taxes.

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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:

Antioch Area Community Fund at the East Bay Community Foundation: The Antioch Area Community Fund at the East Bay Community Foundation has issued a grant for core operating support. The fund focuses on the high-need communities of East Contra Costa, with a special emphasis on Antioch.

Educational Testing Service (ETS): The mission of nonprofit ETS to advance quality and equity in education for all people worldwide. ETS renewed its support for Opportunity Junction through a grant to help Road Map to College students in the form of books, tools, uniforms, and other unmet financial needs.

Firedoll Foundation: The Firedoll Foundation issued a renewal grant to support the Job Training and Placement Program. The Firedoll Foundation is a private family foundation founded by two unrepentant liberals from the 60's who still believe in the motto, "If you are not part of the solution, you're part of the problem."

SparkPoint Funders: The local and regional funders of SparkPoint Contra Costa have renewed their support for the collaborative, with a portion of that funding directed to support our two career counselors at SparkPoint Contra Costa in Bay Point. The United Way of the Bay Area serves as a fundraiser and pass-through for the SparkPoints, and the Richmond Community Foundation serves as the fiscal agent and a co-lead agency for SparkPoint Contra Costa. Behind the scenes, Chevron is the largest support of SparkPoint Contra Costa.

Thomas J. Long Foundation: The Thomas J. Long Foundation's vision is to build healthy, diverse, vibrant, and caring East Bay communities where all residents have the opportunity to thrive. Opportunity Junction received the third payment on a three-year grant to sustain our current programs while giving us the flexibility to experiment with our pilot Road Map to College program and Alumni Advancement Academy.

Travis Credit Union: Travis Credit Union renewed its support of the Do-It-Yourself Tax Assistance program, slated to start helping residents submit their tax returns in January. The credit union states that it, "helps shape communities by making a difference in the lives of individuals and their families because we are from these communities ourselves."

Umpqua Bank Charitable Foundation: Umpqua Bank Charitable Foundation has approved 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, Alissa Friedman, and Cynthia Dial. Photographs by Brianna Robinson and Alissa Friedman. Newsletter assembled by Lea Mason.

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 2018