In This Edition:
Elayna and her son

Thanks to you: Elayna's dream is coming true

"Imagine participating in a program where everyone’s goal is to help you succeed! I felt completely supported, uplifted, and valued. I have gained so much more than computer, and administrative skills. With the interview skills and confidence I learned in the program, I landed a great job. The experience I am gaining in this role will change the trajectory of my whole career. My dream has finally come true!" Click here to read her story...

Alissa Friedman

Year in Review: 2015-16

Reviewing our accomplishments for the year, our past 12 months are best described as a string of superlatives. We posted the largest number of employment placements ever: 266 total, including 120 unique initial placements. We received the most individual donations ever: $118,713. Our volunteers put in more shifts than ever before. Read more...

NRG volunteers

NRG volunteers can do it all

Thanks to NRG Energy employees, our Antioch office has never looked better! We were thrilled to partner with NRG for a third time for their annual Global Giving Week which began May 16th . NRG Global Giving Week is a week of volunteerism for NRG employees, working with local non-profit organizations across the country.. Read more...

BoardMembers

Our Board of Directors is growing

Opportunity Junction board members have served as supporters, cheerleaders, trusted advisors, and guides. Thanks to dedicated, skilled people serving in this important leadership role to guide our work, Opportunity Junction is one of the most well-respected workforce development organizations in the Bay Area. Read more...

voter registration forms

Voter registration forms are available at our office!

The deadline for registering for the November election is October 24th, so don’t delay. If you're not sure whether you're registered at your current address, come on in. For convenience, you can choose a permanent "vote by mail" ballot. You can also check online to see whether you're registered in Contra Costa.

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Thanks to You: Elayna's dream is coming true

Elayna and her sonElayna Eubanks always had a dream of helping people in the medical profession, so she enrolled in college to become a nurse. However, she had to drop out when she became pregnant to support herself and her new baby. Elayna soon discovered that she would raise her son as a single-mom and spent four years working at the make-up counter of a department store.

"I felt unfulfilled and depressed with how my life had turned out working at a dead-end job. I decided to go back to college to get my degree to improve our lives." But so many years away from school left Elayna's skills rusty; she scored poorly on the assessments and had to start her classes from the bottom. Elayna took four years to complete her transfer credits from Los Medanos College and another two to complete her BS from Cal State East Bay in Health Science Administration and Management. She supported her son working part-time and while receiving CalWORKs and other assistance.

"Although I accomplished a huge milestone in my life, I felt unsure about my computer skills and nervous about starting my career. I saw a flyer about Opportunity Junction at the Child Care Council and knew I needed more help to launch my career."

Elayna at workElayna's experience in her desired field was limited to short-term internships, and she needed help refining her computer skills and improving her confidence. “Imagine participating in a program where everyone's goal is to help you succeed! I felt completely supported, uplifted, and valued. I have gained so much more than computer and administrative skills.

"I was called for a round of panel interviews for a mid-level position with California Pacific Medical Center-Research Institute because of my degree, certificates, and computer skills. With the interview skills and confidence I learned in the program, I landed the job. The experience I am gaining in this role will change the trajectory of my whole career.

"I used to hold onto $20 because I didn’t know if I’d make it through the week with enough money. Now, I am able to buy things for my son and enjoy life with him. Thanks to OJ, I was able to buy a new car and am saving to buy a home. My dream has finally come true!"

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Year in Review: 2015-16

Dear Opportunity Junction Family,

Reviewing our accomplishments for the year, our past 12 months are best described as a string of superlatives. We posted the largest number of employment placements ever: 266 total, of 200 unique individuals, including 120 initial placements. We received the most individual donations ever: $118,713. Our volunteers put in more shifts than ever before.

In this year-end letter (fiscal year end), then, I want to thank the supporters, volunteers, staff members, and job seekers who made this extraordinary year possible.

Our supporters Our supporters: This year, individual donations to Opportunity Junction topped $118,000, the highest amount ever. Donors included people who made major gifts of more than $1,000, guests at the annual Imagine Gala, and Facebook friends who pitched in $20 on #GivingTuesday. They included program alumni, too. We are grateful to you all. Thank you for sharing our belief that everyone who is willing to work hard deserves an opportunity to succeed.

Our volunteers Our volunteers: This year, 131 volunteers logged the highest ever number of volunteer shifts and the second-highest total hours. And had our database tracked the hours invested by corporate partners like NRG Energy and our Board of Directors (see the stories in this eNews), this year would be tops across the board. From reception to event planning, from teaching to food distribution, from facilities to mock interviewing, from governance to editing, our volunteers rock! Thank you for your generosity with that most precious commodity (your time).

Our staff Our staff members: Not infrequently, outside stakeholders and the job seekers we serve approach me to let me know how fantastic our staff members are. "They really get it," I’m told. Or I’m advised that the way to scale Road Map to College is to "clone Natasha." Together, this past year, we identified excellence, integrity, and relationship as our three highest values, and they consistently seek ways to live out those values in the work they do every day. Moreover, they had worked hard to expand our alumni programs and to pilot new initiatives that have been highly effective. Thank you for making hard work fun.

Our job seekers Our job seekers: The numbers are impressive, and the success is theirs. This year, 200 (yes, exactly 200) new enrollees and alumni were placed into employment. But that passive tense doesn’t convey the half of it. We use our employer connections only when a participant has shown us that the placement will improve our reputation and relationship with the employer. We require that they be “work ready” by all seven measures we use. Thank you for persevering through adversity, for inspiring everyone involved in this organization, and for working hard for your families and community.

At our more recent staff meeting, each of us shared a favorite memory from the previous year. Some mentioned alumni success stories, and others mentioned the Gala or staff retreats or volunteer events. By the time we had circled the room, the joy and satisfaction were palpable.

The challenges we face are substantial, even as the job market improves and the minimum wage increases. Poverty is continuing to rise in our area as families migrate East in search of more affordable housing. The percent of local workers employed full-time is dropping. We will need to adapt to the changing needs of job seekers and employers alike. But with a team this generous, creative, and compassionate, the journey is always a pleasure.

With appreciation,

Alissa Friedman




Alissa Friedman, Executive Director

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NRG volunteers can do it all

NRG volunteers Thanks to NRG Energy employees, our Antioch office has never looked better! We were thrilled to partner with NRG for a third time for their annual Global Giving Week which began May 16th . NRG Global Giving Week is a week of volunteerism for NRG employees, working with local non-profit organizations across the country.

NRG employees Joe Moura, Operations and Maintenance Manager, and Mark Mullicane, Facilities Supervisor, managed our list of projects including installing our new receptionist desk, replacing damaged ceiling tiles and white boards, and fixing our heating and cooling system.

NRG volunteers NRG volunteers from the local Pittsburg and Antioch sites worked efficiently, completing projects one after another with a smile. Our Administrative Manager, Melinda Johnson, says, "The volunteers from NRG were amazing!  We barely had to think of a need and it was done.  From adding security lighting outside, to rearranging furniture, and fixing a myriad of little issues with our office space, NRG's tireless work in our space was indispensable to keeping us running smoothly!"

Our staff agrees that the set-up of the new receptionist desk was our favorite project, but our trainees would argue having air conditioning in the labs is by far the best gift! Whatever the task might be, NRG volunteers can do it all. We appreciate the enthusiasm and hard work of these volunteers. Thanks, NRG!

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Our Board of Directors is growing

Opportunity Junction board members have served as supporters, cheerleaders, trusted advisors, and guides. We continue to expand our board with talented people and today there are sixteen members, which is the largest our Board of Directors has ever been! We want to welcome our most recent board members: Bob Calkins, Christine Bonifacio, Bruce Baumgarten, Brian Siebold, and Richard Pagano. If you have the chance to chat with new board members, you will find that each of them has a unique story that connected them to Opportunity Junction many years ago. We are thrilled that each of their journeys have led them to service on the Board.

Meet all of our board members

Opportunity Junction board members are influential in our community and bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table. We can say with pride that our board members are: local business owners and consultants; a former foundation director and a former county program director; banking, real estate, insurance, and marketing professionals; leaders in education; and program alumni who have launched long-term, successful careers. They have utilized their network and expertise to help Opportunity Junction expand our Road Map to College program, to establish a core group of gala volunteers, to revamp our website, and to make connections with hiring partners so interns can be placed in quality jobs. Read in their own words what it means to them to serve on the Board of Directors. We promise that you will appreciate them just as much as we do!

We are grateful to all board members, current and former, who have served Opportunity Junction. Thanks to dedicated, skilled people serving in this important leadership role to guide our work, Opportunity Junction is one of the most well-respected workforce development organizations in the Bay Area.

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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:

East Bay Community Foundation The Anonymous Fund at the East Bay Community Foundation: The Anonymous Fund at the East Bay Community Foundation has issued a grant of extremely valuable core operating support. While we allocate most unrestricted funds to program support, core operating support also enables us to maintain a strong infrastructure (technology, finance) and to pilot promising new initiatives.

The Keller Canyon Mitigation Fund will again this year support residents of the Primary Mitigation Area, Bay Point and a portion of Pittsburg, who enroll in our Job Training and Placement Program. The Fund supports improved quality of life for residents of Bay Point, Pittsburg, and Antioch and is administered by a team led by County Supervisor Federal Glover, in whose district the Keller Canyon Landfill is located.

NRG Energy has made a grant to support Pittsburg and Bay Point residents who enroll in our Job Training and Placement Program. We are also grateful to NRG for volunteer support and infrastructure improvements.

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.

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Newsletter Contributors: Eva Luo, Brianna Robinson, Samantha Seals-Martin, Melinda Johnson,and Alissa Friedman. Photographs by PhotoSophistry,Eva Luo, Brianna Robinson, 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 2016