As the pandemic swept the nation, Pauline found Opportunity Junction and a new career

Pauline Gaona and her family"If it wasn't for Opportunity Junction, I really wouldn't have the job I have now, and I love it! I don't mind getting up early and going to work because I know I am in a good career, and I can move up," shares Pauline Gaona, alumna of Class 62 of the Administrative Careers Training program (ACT).

This wasn't always the case for Pauline. Pauline first heard about the ACT a couple years ago. However, with two young children and her position as a customer service representative, it wasn't the right time to risk a job change, even if her job was unsatisfying.

Everything came to a head as the pandemic swept the nation and Pauline's kids were suddenly at home all day in virtual learning. "I found myself grumpy at work and then couldn't stop thinking about work at home. I knew it wasn't sustainable for me or my family. But I didn't know enough computer skills to apply for something new. We were fortunate that my husband was able to get into the sheet metal union and support us while I attended training," says Pauline.

The timing worked out perfectly for Pauline to apply to OJ's virtual training program in the summer when her kids were not in school. "It was exhausting learning the new skills all day while my kids were home unable to do much outside. I was so lucky to have family help as the deadlines grew more intense. When the kids started school virtually again, my second grader would sit next to me and do her school work while I did mine."

Paulne and familyPauline worked hard completing the training and earning her Microsoft Office Specialist certification in Word. She had launched a career in administrative work through a temp assignment with Robert Half when she and her husband were both diagnosed with COVID 19 and forced to quarantine for 14 days.

As an ACT alumna and as a SparkPoint Contra Costa client, Pauline was eligible for special COVID support funds to help clients make it through crisis. "I didn't know how we would pay our bills or our rent. It meant so much to get help paying the rent and other bills that were piling up while we couldn't work. It was just enough to help us bridge the gap when we both weren't working."

When Pauline recovered, her temporary administrative assistant position converted to permanent with Contra Costa County School Insurance Group where she gets to work some days in the office and some remote. "I really love my job! If it wasn't for Opportunity Junction being there for low income families, I wouldn't be on the career ladder working my way up. Thank you for offering a better life for me and my family."