In This Edition:
Shannon

Thanks to You: Shannon Loves Her Job and the Job Loves Her

"Thanks to Opportunity Junction, I am making more than ever in my life. I am able to help my family again, and I was able to buy my first brand new car. It feels awesome. I earned my Microsoft Office Specialist certifications in Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, and Outlook. I wanted them all! I am confident now and valuable. I was so deflated and devastated when I lost my last job and couldn't compete for a new one without the right skills. I will never feel that way again." Click here to read her story...

Giving Tuesday

Give Opportunity this Holiday Season!

Our Holiday Campaign "Give Opportunity" kicks off with #GivingTuesday on November 29, 2016 and runs through the end of the year. All donations (up to $25,000) will be matched dollar for dollar through December 31. Last year, private donations helped 200 job seekers start a career or earn a promotion and 900 local residents improve their skills. Please click here to donate now. Learn more...

January Calendar

January is Jumpin' at Opportunity Junction

January is lining up to be a jam-packed month at Opportunity Junction. Besides recruitment and tax season, classes are beginning in both our evening Technology Center and at Los Medanos College. Our staff is excited for the upcoming bustle of activity and we are ready to jump in and support our participants in every way possible. . Read more...

Alumni

Alumni Give Back as Volunteers and Donors

After graduating our 50th Job Training and Placement Program class this year, we have more than 560 alumni, and many are giving back as volunteers and donors! "After everything that Opportunity Junction gave to me, I wanted to give back in a tangible way," says Nicole from Class 29. Read more...

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Thanks to You: Shannon Loves Her Job and the Job Loves Her

Shannon Shannon White's career was on track. Brought in initially as a temp for an organization that hired and placed court reporters, Shannon's work ethic and ability to learn solidified her place in the agency; she thought she would never leave. However, after 15 years, the company closed its doors, and Shannon found herself unexpectedly unemployed with skills useful only in a dying industry.

"I was devastated when I was laid off," Shannon shares. "I had a good job and medical insurance, and the next day, life was different. For the first time in my life, I was on unemployment and couldn't support myself anymore. Not only did I lose the job I loved, but I also had so much responsibility in my life. I was the only person in my family that had a good paying job and was able to help family members in need. I felt like I was letting them down, too."

She didn't have any luck looking for work on her own. "After I was laid off, I tried to go back to temp work, but the market had changed. I now had to take computer skills tests, and my skills were limited to my last job. One interviewer told me, 'You're not ready for this; you just don't have the skills.' I felt discouraged and didn't know where to turn."

Shannon found Opportunity Junction while googling different staffing agencies. "When I started the job training program, my self-esteem and confidence level were very low. The one-on-one counseling sessions and LifeSkills classes helped me feel confident and ready to start the next chapter of my life."

Shannon at workWith the help of our employer connections, Shannon was hired as the Office Administrator with a local business, Precision Leak Detection. "I felt scared and nervous starting my new job after Opportunity Junction, but I also felt prepared because of all of the new skills I learned in the program. After two years, I was promoted to Office Manager thanks to the skills I learned at OJ.

"Thanks to Opportunity Junction, I am making more than ever in my life. I am able to help my family again, and I was able to buy my first brand new car. It feels awesome. I earned my Microsoft Office Specialist certifications in Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, and Outlook. I wanted them all! I am confident now and valuable. I was so deflated and devastated when I lost my last job and couldn't compete. I will never feel that way again."

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Give Opportunity this Holiday Season!

Giving Tuesday Our Holiday Campaign "Give Opportunity" kicks off with #GivingTuesday on November 29, 2016 and runs through the end of the year. All donations (up to $25,000) will be matched dollar for dollar through December 31 by the Paul Foundation.

Last year, private donations helped:

  • 200 job seekers start a career or earn a promotion
  • 900 local residents improve their skills
  • Maintain our extraordinary placement rate of 93%, and the even more unusual 5-year retention rate of 73%

Join Us This means lasting improvement in people's lives, including intangible effects we can't begin to measure. What we can measure is the more than $40 million dollars our alumni have earned since our founding in 2000. There's a lot more work to do to help our low-income neighbors. Get involved and donate now!

Join Us for #GivingTuesday

#GivingTuesday was founded in 2012 as a global giving event. Be part of our Give Opportunity campaign by spreading the word on social media on November 29. Program alumni, you can also participate by sharing what Opportunity Junction's programs mean to you.

Make your gift twice as nice

JoannaAs a reminder, every gift donated before December 31 will be matched (up to $25,000) thanks to the generosity of the Paul Foundation.

Thanks to you, Joanna has a full-time job with benefits that supports her family. "My girls watched me walk across the stage at graduation, and they still talk about it. I finally feel proud of myself and am becoming the person my family can be proud of, too."

Thank you for your continued support and for being a part of Giving Opportunity this holiday season.

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January is Jumpin' at Opportunity Junction

January Calendar January is lining up to be a jam-packed month at Opportunity Junction. Besides recruitment and tax season, classes are beginning in both the evening Technology Center and at Los Medanos College. Our staff is excited for the upcoming bustle of activity and we are ready to jump in and support our participants in every way possible.

Job Training and Placement Program
Our Job Training and Placement Program will hold application sessions for class 52 starting on Tuesday, January 3 at Opportunity Junction's office. This will be followed by a recruitment day on January 5th at the Ambrose Community Center and two more at Opportunity Junction on January 9th and 17th. All application sessions start promptly at 10:00 AM. If you or someone you know is interested in applying for our next JTPP class, be sure to attend an application session on one of these dates.

Road Map to College
January is also a busy month for Los Medanos College, with classes starting for the spring 2017 semester on January 21st. The participants in our newest Road Map to College cohort, all youth between the ages of 18 and 24, will be registering for classes in early January and will also have a campus tour, hosted by the Welcome Center's Student Ambassadors, prior to classes beginning. We are all excited for this new youth cohort to begin their college journey.

Do-It-Yourself Tax Assistance
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 2016 income is below $68,000 per year. Our first tax sessions are being held on Friday, January 20th at 6:00 PM and Saturday, January 21st at 10:00 AM and run every weekend through April 15th. For a complete list of session dates and times and to sign up, please check our website.

Technology Center
The evening Technology Center is open from 6-9 PM Monday through Thursday and offers public computer access and multiple classes to help you improve your skills at no cost to you. The spring class schedule has been published and several classes start in January, including:

  • Windows Basic: Tue & Thu from 7:30-9:00 PM beginning January 31
  • Windows Advanced: Mon from 6:00-9:00 PM beginning January 30
  • Basic Spanish: Mon & Wed from 6:00-7:15 PM beginning January 30

There is also our ongoing Drop-In typing class every Wednesday from 7:30-9:00 PM and our English as a Second Language class Tuesday and Thursday from 6:00-9:00 PM. To enroll in any of our upcoming evening classes, you can sign up here.

For more information about these or any of our other programs, please attend our weekly information session, held every Tuesday at 10:00 AM.

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Alumni Give Back as Volunteers and Donors

Alumni This year we graduated our 50th job training class! We now have more than 560 alumni of our Job Training and Placement Program, and many are giving back as volunteers and donors. "After everything that Opportunity Junction gave to me, I wanted to give back in a tangible way that will allow them to continue to help as many people in our community as possible," says Nicole from Class 29.

In the past two years, our alumni and participants have volunteered more than 1400 hours helping us provide high quality services for our programs. Alumni teach evening classes, cover reception, and help manage the traffic when we recruit for a new class. In addition, our Alumni Council provides strategic and programmatic input and helps plan alumni events.

Kimberley Jones from Class 46 uses the computer skills she learned at Opportunity Junction to teach in our evening Technology Center: "I enjoy volunteering in the Technology Center. It gives me the opportunity to help others feel confident learning the computer skills."

And we are deeply inspired when we receive alumni donations, because we know what it represents. "I donated because it was on my heart to do so," explains Natalie Pierre of Class 23. "What I received from Opportunity Junction is priceless and changed my life for the good. What's even more amazing is that I continue to benefit from the relationship."

Alumni Rana Zarour, from Class 42, adds, "It always makes me happy to donate to Opportunity Junction! This is the least I can do to say 'thank you' for what Opportunity Junction has given me: preparation to sustain a very good job, my dignity, and my self-confidence."

"It's my way of paying it forward," says April Lujano of Class 47. "I continue to support Opportunity Junction because it has done so much to help me better my life, and I want to be part of helping others accomplish the same."

"We had a project in our life skills class called 'Why I Am Here'," recalls Jo Ann from Class 48. "It was that chart that inspired me to make giving back a goal. OJ gave me the tools for success. I want to share them with others."

Our alumni are our biggest advocates, spreading the word through out the community. And our alumni help the program that once helped them in many ways. Thank you, alumni!

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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:

BBVA Compass Bank: BBVA Compass Bank has issued a grant to support our Job Training and Training Program. BBVA team members also serve as volunteers in the program.

Share the Spirit: We have been awarded a Share the Spirit grant to support our annual alumni Holiday Party. Share the Spirit is a partnership of the Bay Area News Group - East Bay Times and the Contra Costa Crisis Center.

Tipping Point Community: The Tipping Point Community has renewed its core operating support. Tipping Point also provides training, technical assistance, and targeted grants to help us increase our capacity across all functional areas of the organization.

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. Taxpayers earning up to $68,000 can complete and eFile their returns for free. Sessions begin in January.

Y&H Soda Foundation: The Y&H Soda Foundation has issued a renewal grant to support our Job Training and Placement Program. The Soda Foundation is committed to the full participation and prosperity of the underserved, and we value their partnership and counsel.

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Newsletter Contributors: Eva Luo, Brianna Robinson, Melinda Johnson, and Alissa Friedman. Photographs by Brianna Robinson, Eva Luo, 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