In This Edition:
Jemila Ndioubnan was raised by a single mother who taught her confidence, independence,
and the importance of working hard. When her mother passed away from
congestive heart failure, Jemila was emotionally shattered. After years in retail, she
found Opportunity Junction. "In August I was hired directly by UC Berkeley. It's crazy to
have landed here. I couldn't have done this without OJ. My MOS certificates impressed my
boss, and everyone comes to me to complete projects because of my skills. Life is good. Everything is slowly coming together.
I am off aid and supporting myself again. I am excited about what's next."
Click here to read her story...
Our friends at Chevron joined us for Corporate Caring Volunteer Week. We kicked off the week with
picture day! Midweek, a team of volunteers cleaned-up our storage room. Our final volunteer team sorted through our infamous
wardrobe closet. Thanks, Chevron Volunteers!
Click here to view the full story.
Please join us in welcoming Opportunity Junction's most recent addition to our staff, Shannel Arce. Shannel joined
the team as our Outreach and Employment Specialist after Eric Guzman transitioned to
our Bay Point location to become our newest Career Counselor..
50 Classes of Inspiration and Achievement: On Thursday, September 22nd, we celebrated the
graduates of Class 50 of the Job Training and Placement Program. Longtime Advisory Council
member Iris Archuleta inspired graduates as our special guest speaker, and alumni from over the years attended in an
emotional show of support.
Read more and get the TV dates...
Thanks to You: Jemila is excited about what's next
Jemila Ndioubnan was raised by a single mother who taught her confidence, independence, and the importance
of working hard. After graduating high school, she moved across the county to attend Howard University,
piecing together scholarships and financial aid. After only one year, however, Jemila moved back home. The
mother who had always been Jemila's support
system had congestive heart failure and needed someone to take care of her.
Keeping her outlook positive, Jemila accepted the responsibility and found a customer service job to
help pay the bills at home. "A year after moving home, my mother passed away from a complication due to her
condition. I was too emotionally shattered to return to college and held two jobs to support myself while
trying to figure out what I was doing next." But she couldn't make ends meet. She transferred to Indiana
with her retail position to live with her grandmother. Shortly after, she met her boyfriend and moved
to Texas to start a family. After four years in Texas and with two young sons, Jemila realized that she
would be raising her boys alone. "I was a single mother, and we were making it work. It wasn't what I planned,
but I was paying the bills and not depending on anyone," shared Jemila.
The stress of being in her retail position for eight years started taking its toll. "The evening and
holiday hours were keeping me from my sons, and I started having performance issues to the point where I was
eventually fired. I looked for office jobs and couldn't find anything because of my experience and lack of
computer skills. I felt discouraged. My friend still lived in California. She had recently completed
Opportunity Junction's administrative training program and kept telling me to move
back and apply. The termination forced a change in my life I wasn't making on my own."
After a lifetime of being independent, Jemila moved back to California. "I was crying when I was accepted
into OJ's program. I took a leap of faith and things were finally lining up: I had a place to live; I received
aid from CalWORKs and food stamps; my kids were accepted into the after school program; and I was able to borrow a car. I was ready."
Not long into the internship phase of the program, Jemila was offered a temporary job through a staffing
agency to work in the HR department at UC Berkeley. "It was the perfect position for me. I always wanted to work
in HR, and a position at Cal was a dream come true. I was also ok with the temporary assignment because I planned
to move back to Texas when the position ended." But the position didn't end. Jemila's boss wanted her to stay. First,
her contract was extended; then when another staffer in the office
left for another department, Jemila's boss encouraged her to apply.
"In August I was hired directly by UC Berkeley. It's crazy to have landed here. I couldn't have done this
without OJ. My MOS certificates impressed my boss and everyone comes to me to complete projects because of
my Microsoft Office skills. Life is good. Everything is slowly coming
together. I am off aid and supporting myself again. I am excited about what's next."
Back to top
Another successful Corporate Caring Volunteer Week with Chevron!
Our friends at Chevron joined us for Corporate Caring Volunteer Week. Each September, Chevron
employees participate in a week of volunteerism partnering with local nonprofits in the Bay Area.
A special thanks to the Contra Costa Crisis Center for organizing the event!
We kicked off the week with picture day! Equipped with their DSLR cameras, lighting, and backdrop, our
first group of volunteers led by Mark Stas truly looked like professional photographers. They captured
amazing action shots and formal portraits of our participants and staff, which we would gladly use for any
of our marketing material. In fact, some of the pictures on our website were taken by this group! Mark
says, "We have a group of folks (at Chevron) who enjoy photography. There is a photography club that meets
once a month to discuss our hobby. When I was introduced to your business and what you do for the community, it was double the pleasure.
We appreciate what you do to help people and are blessed to be able to help you with your endeavor."
Midweek, Scott Linn and his team of volunteers cleaned-up our storage room for all of our office
supplies, decorations, and other miscellaneous items. This team navigated through the storage room to
reorganize and declutter the space to make everything easily accessible to staff. Our Program Manager, Michelle
Wade's initial reaction to seeing the storage room after the clean-up: "WOW! It's so clean."
Our final volunteer team sorted through our infamous wardrobe closet. We collect donations of
professional clothing from the community, so our participants can have appropriate attire to wear
for their job interviews. These clothes have piled up over time, so Susan McComas' team went through
each item and checked for outdated items to remove from the closet and reorganized them by
size. Now, our participants can easily pick out what they want for a job interview.
Thanks, Chevron Volunteers, for your help this week! We loved having you here and each one of you made a
difference to our organization. Until next year...
Back to top
Staff Changes and Additions at Opportunity Junction
Please join us in welcoming Opportunity Junction's most recent addition to our staff, Shannel Arce. Shannel joined the team as our Outreach
and Employment Specialist after Eric Guzman transitioned to our Bay Point location to become our newest Career Counselor.
A graduate of San Jose State University with a B.A. in Psychology, Eric has been
working at Opportunity Junction since 2015 as the Outreach & Employment Specialist. When
a Career Counselor position opened up in July, he jumped at the opportunity to help our SparkPoint
clients achieve their career and financial goals in a more hands-on way. Eric grew
up in Pittsburg and Antioch, so being able to give back to his community in this new way
was a no-brainer. "I love working at Opportunity Junction because it allows me to interact more with the community that I grew up in.
The best joy is when I see our programs significantly improve the lives of our clients and their families."
Shannel joined the team in July as our new Outreach and Employment Specialist, recruiting
participants for our programs and working with partner agencies for presentations and
referrals. She also works with employers, helping them find the right fit for their employment
needs. Since her first day at OJ, Shannel has jumped into her role enthusiastically and hasn't
stopped smiling yet. Shannel received her B.A. in Social Work from CSU Sacramento and we are thrilled
to have her as part of the team. "My favorite part of working at OJ is when participants in our program accept a job offer. They
are confident, grateful, and ready to succeed in their new administrative career!"
Back to top
50 Classes of Inspiration and Achievement
On Thursday, September 22nd, we celebrated the graduates of Class 50 of the Job Training and Placement
Program at a ceremony held at Antioch's El Campanil Theater. Sixteen graduates, three already employed and 13 completing internships,
took the stage to accept accolades and encouragement and to thank those who made it possible.
Iris Archuleta, Co-Founder and CEO of Emerald HPC International, and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Social Sciences at Los Medanos College, served as special guest speaker. A long-time supporter and
volunteer, Iris serves on our Advisory Council. Iris shared the barriers she had to overcome to achieve her own
personal and professional success and inspired both the graduates and the assembled guests.
Alumni from over the years attended the golden 50th graduation, many of them now accomplished professionals
in their fields. "Never in my wildest imagination did I think that I would be on my 10th year and counting with the County,"
said Class 8's Rene Tucker. "This is such a huge accomplishment that belongs not only to
me but to the Best Non Profit Opportunity Junction and its phenomenal staff."
The ceremony will air several times on CCTV (Contra Costa TV), Comcast channel 27, Astound channel 32, and AT&T U-verse channel 99. Air dates are:
- Thursday, October 6 at 6:00 p.m.
- Saturday, October 8 at 11:00 a.m.
- Monday, October 10 at 1:00 p.m.
- Thursday, October 13 at 6:00 p.m.
- Saturday, October 15 at 11:00 a.m.
- Monday, October 17 at 1:00 p.m.
CCTV is also available to watch via live
streaming at www.contracostatv.org.
Back to top
New Grants and Support for our Programs
We are proud and grateful to announce the following new grants and funding partnerships:
The Antioch Area Community Fund at the East Bay Community Foundation:
The Antioch Area Community Fund at the East Bay Community Foundation has issued a grant of extremely valuable core operating support. The fund focuses on the high-need communities of East Contra Costa, with a special emphasis on Antioch.
The East Bay Community Foundation:
The East Bay Community Foundation has again selected Opportunity Junction as a community partner in the area of family self-sufficiency, providing a grant of core operating support as well as technical assistance and employer connections.
The Firedoll Foundation:
The Firedoll Foundation has 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."
Keller Canyon Landfill Mitigation Fund:
Opportunity Junction is proud to have been awarded grant from the County's Keller Canyon Mitigation Fund to support Bay Point and Pittsburg residents participating in our Job Training and Placement Program. Supervisor Federal Glover leads the board that administers the funding to support a wide range of programs affecting quality of life for residents in the vicinity of the Keller Canyon Landfill, including public safety, youth development, and community beautification.
NRG has 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 during its annual Global Day of Giving and as a sponsor of the Imagine Gala.
Back to top
Newsletter Contributors: Eva Luo, Brianna Robinson, Melinda Johnson, and Alissa Friedman. Photographs by PhotoSophistry, the Chevron Photo Club, and Brianna Robinson (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