In This Edition:
Rachel Spangler and family

Rachel Spangler: "I feel so much better and happier now!"

"With my new career path, I know that my daughter will have a better life. I am excited about my future, and I feel so much better and happier now. I will be debt free in a month-I've already paid off two credit cards! We are saving to buy a house and we are growing our family with my second baby due in July. Where you work definitely has an impact on everyday life, and I am now living the life I always wanted."

Read Rachel's story...

CNA student

Certified Nursing Assistant Training Begins August 26

We're recruiting students now for the second cohort of a new Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Training Program. The class starts on August 26 at Mt. Diablo Adult Education in Concord and includes extensive support services and counseling for advancement into careers in medical assistance, nursing, and other higher-paying medical professions. Read more...

gala logo

Daring to Reach for the Stars at the 2019 Imagine Gala

More than 160 supporters gathered at Diablo County Club on April 6 for an upbeat night of festivities hosted by platinum sponsor Seeno Homes. With support of sponsors, volunteers, board members, and guests, our 2019 Imagine Gala - Reach for the Stars was a major success, raising $120,000 for programs, supplies, and student work experience. Read more...

Class 58 graduates

Graduation Season Includes Opportunity Junction's Class 58

Twelve happy graduates of the Job Training and Placement Program celebrated the season with their own graduation ceremony on May 23 at El Campanil Theater in Antioch. The featured guest speaker was Shanelle Scales-Preston, City of Pittsburg Council Member and District Director for Congressman Mark DeSaulnier. Read more...

hiring

We're Hiring a Computer Skills Instructor

Opportunity Junction is hiring for the position of Computer Skills Instructor! As part of our Job Training and Placement Program (JTPP) team, the Computer Skills Instructor will direct instruction to a class of up to 20 trainees learning Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office, and other software in preparation for employment in office administrative positions. Candidates should have a gift for building strong relationships while helping non-traditional students excel in the classroom. For more information about this opportunity, see the posting here, and please forward it to your networks.

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Rachel Spangler: "I feel so much better and happier now!"

Rachel Spangler Rachel was unclear about her future and her career path before coming to Opportunity Junction's administrative training program. She had struggled in high school and through a few courses in community college, and she realized that a traditional learning environment was not for her.

With limited experience and skills, she started her career in the fast food industry where she worked for nearly four years. She realized that fast food wouldn't work for her anymore when she had her daughter. "It just wasn't a great work environment, and your family is not their priority. I wanted something better for myself and my new family. I was willing to start at the bottom and work up; I just didn't know where to find that starting point," shares Rachel.

Rachel was excited to learn about the OJ training program because it seemed to offer something different than she experienced in the past. "I was worried about not being able to work as many hours, but I was also eager to be part of a short-term program that would lead to a career. I was fortunate that my family was supportive and helped pay the bills while I focused on the program."

Throughout the training, Rachel worked hard to learn new skills and also gained confidence through her successes, earning both her Word and Excel Microsoft Office Specialist certifications. "The program was fast-paced, but everyone was so supportive. My class created truly authentic friendships that have lasted even though the program ended."

Rachel Spangler Through an OJ employer connection, Rachel landed her current job as a purchasing agent with Mike McCall Landscape, Inc. After three months on the job, she was offered a raise. "I would never have applied for this job without OJ. Not only did I not know what the job even meant, I didn't have the skills for a position like this before the training. And now, I love it! It's an amazing company-family owned and family oriented. My employer shares my priorities and is supportive of my growing family.

"With my new career path, I know that my daughter will have a better life. I am excited about my future, and I feel so much better and happier now. I will be debt free in a month-I've already paid off two credit cards! We are saving to buy a house and we are growing our family with my second baby due in July. Where you work definitely has an impact on everyday life, and I am now living the life I always wanted."

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Certified Nursing Assistant Training Begins August 26

CNA Class An aging population brings with it a greater need for healthcare services. With an increasing number of healthcare jobs, there is an opportunity for job seekers to enter the field earning a higher wage and accessing a pathway to greater economic success! This starts with a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Training Program as a first step in creating a healthcare career pathway.

We're recruiting students now for the second cohort of that training program. The class starts on August 26 at Mt. Diablo Adult Education in Concord and includes extensive support services and counseling for advancement into careers in medical assistance, nursing, and other higher-paying medical professions.

CNA Open HouseOffered in collaboration with Mt. Diablo Adult Education and Ombudsman Services of Contra Costa & Solano, the program teaches the technical and professional skills necessary to effectively work as a nursing assistant and pass the national certification examination. The curriculum includes expanded professional skills-building around how to work respectfully with facility residents and their families, how to identify and resolve problems that arise around human or institutional needs, and stress management.

The program meets five days per week for 11 weeks, Monday through Thursday, 8:30am to 3:30pm, and Friday, 8:30am to 12:30pm. The first three weeks are all classroom training, after which students incorporate clinical work Tuesdays and Thursdays at nursing facilities in Antioch. Tuition waivers are available for low-income individuals.

For more information about the CNA Training Program, contact Carmela at (925) 776-1133 or go to Opportunity Junction's website and fill out a quick intake form.

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Daring to Reach for the Stars at the 2019 Imagine Gala

More than 160 supporters gathered at Diablo County Club on April 6 for an upbeat night of festivities hosted by platinum sponsor Seeno Homes. With support of sponsors, volunteers, board members, and guests, our 2019 Imagine Gala - Reach for the Stars was a major success, raising $120,000 for programs, supplies, and student work experience.

2019 Gala program

2019 Gala reception

The theme of the night - Reach for the Stars - embodied our event's focus on celebrating the successes of our participants who dare to Reach for the Stars. And that's not all. We also celebrated the Opportunity Junction community. Whether sponsor, guest, employer, donor, volunteer, staff, or alum, your involvement with Opportunity Junction inspires us to keep reaching for the stars, to keep launching careers that can break the cycle of poverty.

Guests arrived in good spirits, ready to celebrate. Whether sipping wine, enjoying hand-passed hors d'oeuvres, purchasing raffle tickets, or placing bids for silent auction items, everyone had a great time. The excitement continued with a delicious dinner, and a program emceed by ABC7 News anchor Dan Ashley who kicked off the spirited live auction.

We can't forget the rousing tribute song that Alissa made to honor the sponsors to the tune of "Rocky Mountain High." 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 the success story of alumna Tomisha Harts through a video created by Chris Verdugo of CCTV. Watch Tomisha's story here.

2019 gala logoWe ended the evening with dancing and celebration. Reach for the Stars!

A huge thank you to our sponsors: Platinum Sponsor Seeno Homes, Media Sponsor Diablo Magazine, Gold Sponsors (Five Point, J. Stokes Agency, Kaiser Family Winery, and U.S. Bank); Silver Sponsors (Adhesive Products, Inc., Chevron, Cosmetic Dental Spa, Future State, Kaiser Permanente, Mechanics Bank, Mt. Diablo Resource Recovery, NRG Energy, and Wells Fargo); and Bronze Sponsors (Nelson Staffing, Peterson Properties, Phillips 66, Richland Communities, Summit Financial Group, Travis Credit Union, and USS-POSCO). Your support and attendance helped 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, 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. We also invite you to check out the gorgeous photographs of the evening taken by David Fraser.

Thank you!

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Graduation Season Includes Opportunity Junction's Class 5

graduates with council member Twelve happy graduates of the Job Training and Placement Program celebrated the season with their own graduation ceremony on May 23 at El Campanil Theater in Antioch. Each graduate shared their personal story about how the program changed their hopes for the future.

The featured guest speaker was Shanelle Scales-Preston, City of Pittsburg Council Member and District Director for Congressman Mark DeSaulnier. Ms. Scales-Preston, who grew up in East Contra Costa and is a lifelong public servant, gave an inspirational message to the graduates and their families, honoring them for their hard work and success. Congratulations to our graduates for successfully completing the 12-week training phase of the program.

Michelle and graduates If you missed the graduation ceremony, don't worry - you can still catch a recording of the event. It will be aired on Contra Costa Television (CCTV) at the following times:

  • Thursday, June 6 at 11:00 am
  • Saturday, June 8 at 1:00 pm
  • Monday, June 10 at 9:00 pm
  • Thursday, June 13 at 11:00 am
  • Saturday, June 15 at 1:00 pm
  • Monday, June 17 at 9:00 pm

CCTV can be found on AT&T U-verse channel 99, Comcast channel 27, and Astound channel 32.

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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:

AT&T Services, Inc.: The company awarded a significant grant for the Job Training and Placement Program. Through its philanthropic initiatives and partnerships, AT&T supports projects that create opportunities, make connections, and address community 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."

First Republic Bank: First Republic Bank recently awarded a critically important core operating support grant to Opportunity Junction. The bank states, "At First Republic, doing the right thing is at the heart of everything we do - from giving back to our communities to building a diverse and inclusive organization."

NRG Energy, Inc.: NRG Energy, Inc. 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 as a source of volunteers and as a sponsor of the Imagine Gala.

Tipping Point Community: Tipping Point Community awarded a one-time grant and invited Opportunity Junction to participate in a Career Advancement Project to investigate and propose new solutions to support job seekers moving up the career ladder in partnership between Bay Area skills training organizations and Tipping Point Community.

Strive for Change Foundation: The foundation renewed its support for our programs that help the working poor in Contra Costa County achieve economic self-sufficiency. Each year, the foundation starts from scratch to raise all of the money it gives away to Opportunity Junction and other effective East Bay organizations.

Westamerica Bank: Westamerica Bank recently awarded a grant to support the Job Training and Placement Program. The Bank embraces their responsibility to improve the quality of life of the communities they serve.

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Newsletter Contributors: Brianna Robinson, Cynthia Dial, and Melinda Johnson. Photographs by David Fraser Photography, Brianna Robinson, Shaun Samuels, Norman Cheng, Nicole Howell, and Alissa Friedman. 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 2019