In This Edition:
Joe Chappelle

Thanks to you: Joe knows his worth

"I am so thankful for the staff of OJ and all those who make the organization possible. Words cannot justly describe how amazing the Job Training and Placement Program truly is and how meaningful it can be to those who participate in it. I have seen the meek become bold, the insecure become confident, and the cynical become hopeful. It is truly an unforgettable, transformative experience." Click here to read Joe's story in his own words...

Imagine Gala 2017

You did it: the 2017 Imagine Gala was a success!

Almost 200 supporters gathered at Diablo Country Club on Saturday, April 22nd for an upbeat night of festivities and fundraising presented by Chevron. Sponsors, volunteers, board members, and guests made the 2017 Imagine Gala - You Can Do It a major success! It raised more than $119,000 to help motivated job seekers get and keep good jobs. The program featured the success story of alumna Natalie Pierre. Read more...

three graduates

Join us for job training graduation Thursday at 7 pm

Please join Opportunity Junction staff, Board members, graduates, and guest speaker Supervisor Diane Burgis, District 3 on Thursday, May 25. We'll be celebrating the graduation of Class 52 of the Job Training and Placement Program at 7 pm at El Campanil Theater, 602 W. 2nd St., Antioch, CA 94509. Special thanks to the Antioch Community Foundation for recognizing our graduates' success by funding graduation costs over the next year. Click here to RSVP.

Mike

Volunteer Spotlight: Technology Center Instructor Mike Carroll

In the evenings, our Technology Center is open to the community Monday through Thursday from 6-9 p.m. People can use the computers on their own or take classes to brush up on their computer skills. Thanks to our dedicated volunteers, we are able to offer these computer classes at no charge for anyone interested in learning. Read about volunteer instructor Mike Carroll...

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Thanks to you: Joe knows his worth

Joe Chappelle at work"Opportunity Junction challenged my negative beliefs about myself to help me understand that I can be successful, competent, and confident."

Before joining Opportunity Junction, Joe Chappelle was in a very dark place. After working hard to achieve his bachelor's degree, he couldn't find employment. "Growing up, you hear what it takes to be successful: college then job equals success. As a college graduate, the only position I could find was in retail making just over $10 an hour. It was a rude awakening."

Joe then attended five months of training to become an Air Traffic Controller with the federal government. At the end of the training, however, Joe could not pass the test to move on in that position. "I was devastated," Joe shares. "I put more effort into passing that program than anything in my life, and psychologically and emotionally I was a wreck. I couldn't support myself and felt like a failure. I moved back home and took a job again in retail.

"I spent the next two years in a very unhealthy work environment where I was regularly demeaned and belittled. Those two experiences seemed to confirm my fear that I was a failure -- both in my eyes and the eyes of my family. Moreover, I began to think that every decision I had made in my life had been a mistake, that there was nothing I could do to fix my situation, and that I would just have to accept my dismal fate. I was desperate and depressed and felt like I was going to die in that position. That's when I decided that I needed help."

Joe found Opportunity Junction by Googling jobs in Antioch. Once here, he used our training to earn certification as a Microsoft Office Specialist Master. Joe also took advantage of our wrap around support services. "Natalie [Manager of Personal Development] and Christy [Director of Counseling] helped foster an invaluable environment where I was able to learn that what I was feeling about myself and my life was not unusual, those feelings could change, and that many in my class had similar misgivings. It became an environment where I began to feel hopeful that my life could be better."

During his internship, Joe was hired by hiring partner Tri Delta Transit as an Executive Assistant. "I love my position and have learned so much. My work environment is 180 degrees from my last experience. We are a genuine team and want each other to succeed. I see how my work at Tri Delta Transit and my experience at OJ is interconnected. I am thankful and fortunate to be part of something working, even indirectly, in improving the situation of others.

"I am so thankful for the staff of OJ and all those who make the organization possible. Words cannot justly describe how amazing the Job Training and Placement Program truly is and how meaningful it can be to those who participate in it. I have seen the meek become bold, the insecure become confident, and the cynical become hopeful. It is truly an unforgettable, transformative experience. It has surpassed all of my expectations and convinced me that there really do need to be more programs like Opportunity Junction and that--for those programs that already exist--more attention is due to them."

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You did it - our 2017 Imagine Gala was a success!

Imagine Gala 2017 Almost 200 supporters gathered at Diablo Country Club on Saturday, April 22nd for an upbeat night of festivities and fundraising presented by Chevron. With support of sponsors, volunteers, board members, and guests, our 2017 Imagine Gala - You Can Do It was a major success! Our revenue goal for the evening was $145,000, and we raised $148,000! That translates into more than $119,000 to support our programs and help motivated job seekers get and keep good jobs. You did it! This gala raised the second highest gross and net revenue since the gala's inception 11 years ago!

Alissa Friedman and Dan Ashley Guests arrived in good spirits, ready to celebrate. Whether guests were sipping wine, enjoying hand-passed hors d'oeuvres, purchasing raffle tickets, or placing bids for a silent auction items, everyone was having a good time. The excitement continued in the dining room for dinner, and a program emceed by ABC News Anchor Dan Ashley, to kick off the spirited live auction.

We can't forget the rousing tribute song that Alissa made to honor the sponsors to the tune of "Mr. Tambourine Man." Alissa outdid herself this year AND we captured it on video here!

While fun and laughter filled the room, guests knew our goal was to raise critical funds to keep our organization thriving. We featured featured the success story of alumna Natalie Pierre. through a video created by Chris Verdugo of CCTV. Watch Natalie's story here. From the fund-a-need alone, attendees gave $27,000!

Gala guests from Chevron A huge thank you to our sponsors: Presenting Sponsor Chevron, Platinum Sponsor Seeno Homes, Media Sponsor Diablo Magazine, Gold Sponsors (Future State, J. Stokes Agency, and Temen, Kaiser, & Cameron LLP); Silver Sponsors (Adhesive Products, Inc., Cosmetic Dental Spa, Dow Chemical Company, Laborers Training and Retraining Trust Fund for Northern California, Mt. Diablo Resource Recover, a Garaventa Company, Mechanics Bank, NRG Energy, and Wells Fargo); and Bronze Sponsors (Contra Costa Electric, Comcast, Kaiser Permanente, Michael O'Connor, Nelson Staffing, Peterson Properties, Phillips66, Pittsburg Power, Travis Credit Union, U.S. Bank, and USS-POSCO). Your support and attendance helps us change lives for job seekers and their families, making a lasting and generational mark on this community.

We also extend our gratitude to our Board of Directors, volunteers who solicited auction items, staff members and alumni volunteers who ran the event, guests who attended and participated in various ways, elected officials who attended or sent representatives, donors who donated items to support our silent and live auction - this event was successful because of your generosity!

Because of your support, Opportunity Junction raised the necessary funds to help motivated job seekers in East Contra Costa get and keep good jobs. You did it! We also invite you to check out the gorgeous photographs of the evening taken by David Fraser.

Thank you!

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Volunteer Spotlight: Technology Center Instructor Mike Carroll

Mike in class In the evenings, our Technology Center is open to the community Monday through Thursday from 6-9 p.m. People can use the computers on their own or take classes to brush up on their computer skills. Thanks to our dedicated volunteers, we are able to offer these computer classes at no charge for anyone interested in learning.

Mike Carroll learned about Opportunity Junction in 2015 from a family member. When Mike retired, he wanted to help his Antioch community. He wanted to teach people useful and marketable skills to help them advance in their careers. Being a Civil Engineer by training, Mike had learned Microsoft Office and common business programs needed in the professional setting.

Mike CarrollStarting as a Teacher's Assistant (TA) in the Computer Basics Classes, Mike enjoyed working with the students. He noticed that the materials needed some updates to reflect the latest computer practices. After being a TA for a few cycles, Mike later became the Computer Basics Instructor and adjusted the curriculum to better meet the needs of his students.

Mike shares, "My experience has been very fulfilling and fun. People come to these classes with a wide range of skills, always wanting to learn more, to do better. Some are much earlier in their learning than others, and some never used a computer in their life. Not being able to use computers is a significant handicap in our modern world. My job is to bring the early learners as far along as I can while at the same time keeping the class challenging to our more advanced students. It is an interesting challenge, but the students are great. I think we all have fun while the students learn something new."

Thanks, Mike, for your dedication to your students, and making the Technology Center a place for learning in the evening.

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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 Community Foundation: The Antioch Community Foundation, a new grantor, awarded funds to support the meaningful graduation events that publicly celebrate the success of our Job Training and Placement Program participants. Their support will fund three graduations throughout the year.

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 Dean & Margaret Lesher Foundation: The Dean & Margaret Lesher Foundation has a clear and simple mission - to enhance the quality of life in Contra Costa through charitable giving in support of education, the arts, and children and families. We are entering year two of a three-year grant for general support of our programs serving motivated low-income job seekers.

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 is starting year two of 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.

Tipping Point Community: Tipping Point Community awarded funds to offer a full-day training on Bridges Out of Poverty, a comprehensive approach to understanding poverty that uses the lens of economic class and provides concrete tools and strategies for alleviating poverty. Funds provided the inspirational training facilitated by expert Jodi Pfarr for all OJ staff, as well as representatives from Los Medanos College and SHELTER, Inc.

United Way of the Bay Area: The United Way of the Bay Area has once again awarded grant support and partnership in the Earn It! Keep It! Save It! coalition to our Do-It-Yourself Tax Assistance program.

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Newsletter Contributors: Eva Luo, Brianna Robinson, and Cynthia Dial. Photographs by Brianna Robinson, Eva Luo, and PhotoSophistry.com. 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