In This Edition:
Rachelle

Thanks to you: Rachelle has a future she never saw for herself

"Thanks to OJ's continued support and employer connections, I am now in a dream administrative role. I can't believe I make $18 an hour. That's crazy. Sometimes I see how I am living and can't even recognize myself. Since coming to Opportunity Junction, my life has changed drastically. I received my driver's license, I am off welfare, and I had several convictions expunged. I even bought a new car. I am able to be the person my son needs me to be, and without Opportunity Junction none of this would be possible." — Rachelle Ducker Click here to read Rachelle's story...

Give Opportunity

Give Opportunity and your donation will be doubled up to $68,000!

We launch our Giving Tuesday online campaign on November 28, but there's no need to wait. The HEDCO Foundation and Delta Scrap & Salvage will match your gift now through December 31! If we meet the match, we will be able to upgrade the technology in our classrooms and office. Learn more and donate now...

Thanksgiving baskets

Ready for Thanksgiving Dinner - Thank you donors and volunteers!

We are so thankful to have donors and volunteers who enrich our participants' holiday season. Every November, we have a tradition to provide our participants with a Thanksgiving Basket full of ingredients and a turkey to help make their lives a little easier for Thanksgiving. Read more....

Roadmap to College

Exciting expansions in Road Map to College program

We expanded our Road Map to College program. Meet our second College and Career Counselor, Whitney Flores. Click here to learn more...

Amazon logo

Opportunity Junction Wish List

As the holiday season approaches, the staff at Opportunity Junction has compiled a wish list for items we would love to have donated. Maybe you have one or more of these items sitting in your home unused or maybe you get a replacement item for a steal on Black Friday and need to rehome your current item... we'll happily take it. Click here to see the list...

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Thanks to you: Rachelle has a future she never saw for herself

Rachelle and son Rachelle was only 12 years old the first time she tried methamphetamines. The daughter of an addict and living in a drug-infested neighborhood of Antioch, access to drugs was easy. Her motivation to use came from the combination of witnessing chronic drug use, anger and resentment stemming from her parents' divorce, and being left home alone most of the time.

"By the time I was 13, I was a full blown addict. I never attended a single day of high school and instead spent those years in and out of juvenile hall for various crimes related to my addiction and homelessness," shares Rachelle.

Rachelle's story took an even worse turn when she had a son and attempted to raise him in those same conditions. "My son was taken away by social services, and I couldn't fight my addiction to keep him with me. Eventually, my brother adopted him, and I lost my son from my life completely. That broke me. I just gave up on life and wanted to die. I was living in a homeless encampment and spent the next decade in and out of jail for dealing and hustling, anything I could do to just barely survive."

At the lowest point of Rachelle's life, she became pregnant again. This time, however, she committed to having a different outcome. "I knew losing another child to my addiction would be like death. I had suffered deeply and learned from the pain of not being strong enough to keep my first child. This time would be different."

With a renewed motivation, Rachelle checked into a residential treatment facility to battle her addiction and then into Shepherd's Gate, a shelter helping women committed to changing their lives. After several months living at the shelter, her case manager told her about Opportunity Junction's Job Training and Placement Program.

Rachelle Ducker"I didn't think I could do the program. I had so little education and experience in the classroom. But I knew I had to try if I wanted to get my life back and be able to support my son."

Rachelle's commitment was evident every day in the training program. She often stayed late studying and ultimately earned three Microsoft Office Specialist Certifications while gaining confidence along the way in LifeSkills class.

Opportunity Junction helped connect Rachelle with her first position after the training program in a temporary job with Contra Costa County. "My position was extended three times while I continued to work with OJ and look for a permanent position. Thanks to OJ's continued support and employer connections, I am now in a dream administrative role. I can't believe I make $18 an hour. That's crazy. Sometimes I see how I am living and can't even recognize myself.

"Since coming to Opportunity Junction, my life has changed drastically. I received my driver's license, I am off welfare, and I had several convictions expunged. I even bought a new car! I have earned trust back with my brother and am able to spend time with my son who he adopted. My kids are the only thing that matter to me, and without Opportunity Junction none of this would be possible."

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Give Opportunity and your donation will be doubled up to $68,000!

give opportunity Give Opportunity and your donation will be doubled up to $68,000! We launch our Giving Tuesday online campaign on November 28, but there's no need to wait. The HEDCO Foundation and Delta Scrap & Salvage will match your gift now through December 31! If we meet the match, we will be able to upgrade the technology in our classrooms and office.

Your gift helps job seekers like Jessica support their families.The HEDCO challenge targets our aging technology infrastructure, which we use to teach computer skills. We can collect a $38,469 grant from HEDCO once we raise $38,469 from other donors toward our infrastructure. You can donate toward that $38,469 here.

Jessica learned computer skills as part of our job training program, and now she works for Contra Costa County as a clerk in animal services. “Opportunity Junction gave me the confidence to believe in myself again and to know that I am more than the mistakes I have made in my life.” The matching grant from Delta Scrap and Salvage will support motivated job seekers like Jessica.

holiday appeal We will launch our online holiday campaign on Giving Tuesday (November 28). Program alumni, Facebook friends, and our whole community of supporters can Give Opportunity that day. Giving Tuesday was conceived to follow Black Friday and Cyber Monday, reminding us all of the ways we can spend our money to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.


Join us to move our community in the right direction.

Need And Impact

Give Opportunity. Fight Poverty. Donate Now.

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Ready for Thanksgiving Dinner - Thank you donors and volunteers!

We are so thankful to have donors and volunteers who enrich our participants' holiday season.

thanksgiving volunteers Thanksgiving can be a challenging time for families who struggle to make ends meet, and many of our participants experience this added stress during the holidays. Every November, thanks to donors and volunteers, we have a tradition to provide our participants a Thanksgiving Basket full of ingredients and a turkey to help make their lives a little easier for Thanksgiving.

A special thanks to Supervisor Federal Glover's office for donating 45 turkeys for our participants!

The turkeys didn't go home alone! Volunteers and donors worked together to produce 45 beautiful baskets containing everything needed to complete the Thanksgiving feast.

thanksgiving baskets Employer Partner Educational Testing Service (ETS) collected donations and food items throughout the week to fill 24 baskets. Debra Rivera, Senior Director of Operations at ETS (and OJ Board member) shares, "Staff has been so excited to volunteer and donate this year. Everyone has really embraced the spirit of giving!"

Longtime donor and volunteer for this event, Sue George says, "Making the Thanksgiving baskets is absolutely my favorite thing to do for the holidays. It's something tangible that I can do for the people that are working so hard to improve their lives. It's an absolute joy."

The participants who receive these baskets have expressed joy and gratitude that they can provide for their family and friends on this special day. Trainee Frank says, "I am very grateful for the turkey and basket we received today for Thanksgiving because it means that my family won't have to spend as much to prepare our Thanksgiving meal, as I know money is kind of tight in our family right now." Another trainee, Lauren says, "The baskets are a wonderful surprise and fill me with a holiday spirit that I likely would not have had without it. It'll be a great addition to Thanksgiving."

Thanksgiving is a season for gratitude, and we are so grateful to have incredible supporters. Our participants will have a complete Thanksgiving dinner thanks to you!

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Exciting expansions in Road Map to College programs

studentsFor some young people, the thought of going to college exists only in the realm of fantasy. Often faced with multiple barriers, such as lack of financial resources and little to no family support, our young clients think that college just isn't in the cards for them. That is, until they learn about Road Map to College.

Our Road Map to College program assists 18-24 year old, low-income clients (mostly comprised of foster youth and first generation college students) enter the community college system with ease. We hold their hand through the entire process, from applying for financial aid to physically walking with them to class on the first day, all the while helping them gain the confidence to realize that they actually can go to college.

Once classes begin, our students receive ongoing financial support throughout the semester in the form of grocery and gasoline gift cards, bus passes, parking permits, and vouchers that cover the full cost of their required text books. We also offer additional support depending on the unique needs of every student, which emphasizes our philosophy that youth are the experts in knowing what they need to be successful.

Whitney FloresEarlier this year we expanded our Road Map to College program by hiring a second College and Career Counselor, Whitney Flores. Whitney attended Diablo Valley College before transferring to U.C. Berkeley, so she understands the college systems and processes well. She is also no stranger to the struggles students face in the classroom, so she uses that shared experience to inspire the students she works with to keep going.

Her first task when hired was to help launch our Electrical Technology cohort that was delivered in partnership with Los Medanos College through a unique grant from the Bay Area Workforce Funders Collaborative. Whitney also works with all of our students who started college in August and are now nearing the end of their first term.

Our next group of students is enrolling now for the upcoming January semester. We are currently looking for 18-24 year old youth who have a desire to improve their future employment prospects by earning short-term, career-focused educational Certificates at Los Medanos College. If you know anyone who seems like they would be a good fit, please invite them to apply to our Road Map to College program by visiting our website (www.opportunityjunction.org) or calling us at (925) 776-1133.

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Opportunity Junction Wish List

Amazon As the holiday season approaches, the staff at Opportunity Junction has compiled a wish list for items we would love to have donated. Maybe you have one or more of these items sitting in your home unused or maybe you get a replacement item for a steal on Black Friday and need to rehome your current item… we'll happily take it.

As always we would love if you clicked through our link to do any holiday shopping on Amazon.com. For every dollar you spend using our link, Amazon donates a small percentage to Opportunity Junction. We received almost $1,000 last fiscal year from Amazon for purchases made through our link. Click on the Amazon logo to the left to start shopping and don't forget to bookmark the link so you can return to it all year long!

Opportunity Junction Wish List

  1. Keurig-type coffee maker
  2. K-cup style coffee pods
  3. Coffee mugs
  4. Fiction or Non-Fiction books of all types for our "Take a book!" bookshelf
  5. Flash drives (of any size) for our students' work
  6. Reusable water bottles for our students
  7. Any unwanted gift cards we can use as prizes for participant or alumni events
  8. Platters or serving trays for participant and alumni events

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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.: AT&T Services, Inc. has renewed its critical support of our evening Technology Center, showcasing their ongoing commitment to bridging the digital divide for low-income adults.

BBVA Compass: BBVA Compass Bank has issued a grant to support our Job Training and Training Program, evidence of their commitment to provide opportunities for people to create bright futures. BBVA team members also serve as volunteers in the program.

Contra Costa County Community Development Department: The Community Development Department awarded an infrastructure grant that will be used to renovate Opportunity Junction's existing restrooms, creating four gender-neutral, standalone restrooms.

Contra Costa County Community Services Bureau: Contra Costa County's Community Services Bureau (CSB) provided funding to help Opportunity Junction purchase new Microsoft Office textbooks for our Job Training and Placement Program trainees.

Elizabeth Gard and Thomas Furlong: Ms. Gard and Mr. Furlong awarded a grant for Road Map to College. Their generosity will help increase our capacity to serve low-income 18-24 year old youth.

Dean & Margaret Lesher Foundation: The Lesher Foundation has approved a one-time capital grant to be used for facility improvements and technology upgrades. We are grateful to the foundation for their continued support.

HEDCO Foundation: The HEDCO Foundation made a generous matching grant to help upgrade our technology. Donations will be matched dollar for dollar by the foundation, making it possible to purchase new computers, textbooks, servers, printers, and projectors.

Safeway Foundation and Chevron: We recently received a grant from the Safeway Foundation and Chevron in conjunction with the 2017 Safeway Open Golf Tournament presented by Chevron. The grant will support the Job Training and Placement Program, our Career Development Services, and Road Map to College. Chevron has also agreed to serve as the Presenting Sponsor of the 2018 Imagine Gala.

Share the Spirit: We have been awarded a Share the Spirit grant to support our annual alumni Holiday Party, spreading holiday cheer through the celebration, as well as toys for children and gift cards for families to purchase food. Share the Spirit is a partnership of the Bay Area News Group - East Bay Times and the Contra Costa Crisis Center.

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.

Wells Fargo: Wells Fargo awarded a competitive Economic Opportunity Grant for OJ's Job Training and Placement Program. The Economic Opportunity Grant program centers support within urban cities and rural areas in economically challenged markets.

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

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Newsletter Contributors: Eva Luo, Brianna Robinson, Cynthia Dial, Melinda Johnson, Whitney Flores, and Alissa Friedman. Photographs by Brianna Robinson. Give Opportunity logo designed by Nicola Fraser of David Fraser Photography. Newsletter assembled by Lea Mason.

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