In This Edition:
kiana ashley and daughter

Kiana Ashley: "I will be forever thankful for this experience."

"It was amazing to participate in this program where everyone's goal was to help me succeed! I felt completely supported, uplifted, and valued. I have gained so much more than computer and administrative skills. LifeSkills class helped my confidence soar, and I was able to find strength in myself. Thanks to the support of everyone at OJ, I am finally in a position and in a career I have been dreaming about. I will be forever thankful for my experience there. I feel accomplished and am a good role model for my daughter." Read Kiana's story...

WIOA

Opportunity Junction Joins 10 Local Organizations in New Contra Costa Workforce Collaborative

Opportunity Junction is excited to be a founding partner in the new Contra Costa Workforce Collaborative (CCWC), a countywide effort to expand access and quality of resources for those in need of a job or career change. Read more...

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Chevron Volunteers Can Do It All!

Completing five projects in three hours is no mean feat, but Chevron volunteers are the dream team. We were honored to host Chevron employees for their recent Corporate Caring Volunteer Week. Click here to view the full story...

project management

Project Management Piques Our Interest

This summer, Opportunity Junction was excited to expand our training opportunities for East Contra Costa residents by offering a free class on Project Management in our evening Technology Center. The interactive, ten-week class began in June and taught those enrolled valuable skills such as scheduling, leadership and conflict resolution, budgeting, risk management, and progress monitoring. Read more...

graduation

Congratulations to our Job Training Graduates!

We celebrated the graduation of Class 56 of our Job Training and Placement Program on Friday, September 21, 2018 at the El Campanil Theater. Our special guest speaker, Michelle Stewart, entertained and inspired everyone present with her heartfelt remarks. Read more...

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Kiana Ashley: "I will be forever thankful for this experience."

KianaKiana Ashley had spent years working, but her experience was in retail or sales positions-nothing full-time and nothing that ever seemed like a career. When she became pregnant with her daughter, Phoenix, she knew immediately she had to work harder to be the mother her daughter needed. But things were hard. Kiana was able to find jobs, but nothing fulfilling or that would allow her to support her daughter.

Then Phoenix' father was tragically killed in a drunk driving accident. Although Kiana and he weren't raising Phoenix together, Phoenix was left without a father and with a mother spiraling into depression.

"I was not living the life I wanted for myself or my daughter. I felt like I was disappointing my mother, who was supporting me and my daughter at the same time. I was in a work situation where I was bullied and belittled. I just didn't know who I was anymore."

Kiana quit her toxic job and found a temporary administrative job. Although she loved the work, she wasn't hired permanently because she didn't have the skills to excel in the job. "I was receiving CalWORKs and other public benefits and unclear about where I should go next. Sometimes I would stare at my daughter and just feel lost."

That's when her friend recommended Opportunity Junction. Kiana shares, "It was amazing to participate in this program where everyone's goal was to help me succeed! I felt completely supported, uplifted, and valued. I have gained so much more than computer and administrative skills. LifeSkills class helped my confidence soar, and I was able to find strength in myself."

Following her internship at OJ, Kiana was hired with an after school program and served in a variety of roles. Most recently, she was hired on with Pittsburg Unified School District in an analyst role for their after school program. "Thanks to the support of everyone at OJ, I am finally in a position and in a career I have been dreaming about. I will be forever thankful for my experience there. I feel accomplished and am a good role model for my daughter."

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Opportunity Junction Joins 10 Local Organizations in New Contra Costa Workforce Collaborative

Opportunity Junction is excited to be a founding partner in the new Contra Costa Workforce Collaborative (CCWC), a countywide effort to expand access and quality of resources for those in need of a job or career change.

WIOAThe collaborative offers intensive services at the America's Job Center of California (AJCC, formerly East Bay Works) in Concord as well as ten access points spanning from Oakley in East Contra Costa County all the way to San Pablo in West Contra Costa County, and everywhere in between.

As part of the new effort, Opportunity Junction has hired three new staff members and expanded its evening career services to include additional career workshops and drop-in career counseling.

Maro'Jene Alexander, our evening Career Center Coordinator, helps clients on a drop-in basis with quick career or technology related questions and runs weekly orientations to introduce new job seekers to our programs. Maro'Jene is an alumna of our Job Training and Placement Program and also works in an administrative role at Los Medanos College.

WIOA-teamShaun Samuels and Patty Zavala, our two new Career Counselors, have already started serving job-seeking clients in our Antioch office. Shaun came to us having worked previously as a job placement coach with the Solano County Workforce Development Board and as a staffing manager with Robert Half Office Team. Patty has spent nearly 9 years working with clients in residential treatment facilities, most recently with Shepherd's Gate in Brentwood.

In addition to providing individualized career counseling, Shaun holds career workshops every 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month, most recently delivering workshops on how to navigate the world of temp work and how to stay motivated while job searching or building a career. Patty helps job seekers navigate the job market and builds up their skills so they are fully prepared when it comes time to interview and later retain employment long-term.

Please help us welcome our new staff members next time you stop by! If you know anyone who needs help finding a job, we offer orientations at Opportunity Junction every Tuesday at 10am or 6pm, or interested job seekers can call Shaun or Patty directly to get the process started.

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Chevron Volunteers Can Do It All!

chevron Our friends at Chevron joined us recently for their Corporate Caring Volunteer Week. Each September, Chevron employees participate in a week of volunteerism, partnering with local non-profits in the Bay Area. A special thanks to the Contra Costa Crisis Center for organizing the event!

This year, the Chevron volunteers completed five different projects all in one day. Maurice "Mo" Van Sickle was the Corporate Volunteer Week project leader for this amazing group of volunteers, but this was not Mo's first time as a Corporate Volunteer Week project leader for Opportunity Junction. In fact, several years ago, his team painted our office and installed all of the computer desks in our computer labs. Mo shares, "After meeting the staff and getting an opportunity to learn about their mission statement and vision of helping folks get prepared to get back into the workforce, I, actually 'we', were hooked. I think that was about 10 years ago, and several of my work colleagues and I have returned to take on other projects at OJ. We truly love what they stand for as an organization, and more importantly, the passion of all the folks working there."

chevron interviews A group of six volunteers conducted mock interviews to help our interns hone their interview skills. One of the biggest hurdles to landing a job is overcoming the interview. Our interns always need more practice, so having the volunteers conduct mock interviews for our participants allowed our interns to feel more comfortable interviewing with strangers. Our interns received invaluable feedback they will use to conquer their next interview.

Two volunteers cleaned up our storage room full of office supplies, decorations, and other miscellaneous items. They reorganized and decluttered the space to make items more accessible for our staff and we now have more room to walk around in the small space.

benchesTwo volunteers helped build our photo library by taking pictures of participants and staff. They captured amazing action shots and formal portraits of our participants and staff, which we will gladly use in future marketing material.

Another group of volunteers sorted through our 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 the volunteers went through the piles, sorting clothes by size and removing outdated clothing from the closet. Now, our participants can easily pick out what they need for a job interview.

Lastly, volunteers beautified our outdoor area by landscaping a green space in our parking lot. They removed several giant plants and installed benches so we can have a welcoming place for people to sit outside. This strenuous project was executed perfectly by the volunteers.

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Project Management Piques Our Interest

project management This summer, Opportunity Junction was excited to expand our training opportunities for East Contra Costa residents by offering a free class on Project Management in our evening Technology Center. The class, Practical Project Management, was originally developed by Russell Shiffer to train at-risk youth in Chicago for careers in the high-tech industry. After learning about Opportunity Junction through a volunteer opportunity, Russell realized that our participants could benefit from his class as well and offered to teach the class for free in the evenings.

The interactive, ten-week class began in June and taught those enrolled valuable skills such as scheduling, leadership and conflict resolution, budgeting, risk management, and progress monitoring. Through hands-on simulations, students were able to take a project through its life-cycle and were able to learn how to handle the various stumbling blocks that might pop up along the way.

After the completion of our first 10-week course, the feedback from our participants was that the amount of information was challenging to learn in the 10-week timeframe. Russell took this feedback and re-designed the class to be taught in two parts.

We are happy to announce that beginning in October 2018, we will be offering a 4-week Introduction to Practical Project Management class. This will be followed in January 2019 by a 12-week Advanced Practical Project Management class, which will include more hands-on practice and a deeper dive into some of the more complex topics. After completion of the Advanced class, graduates may have the opportunity to participate in Russell's Master Class on Project Management, where they will manage an actual project for a local non-profit, thereby gaining real experience in the Project Management process.

You can enroll in the Introduction to Practical Project Management class on our website at https://opportunityjunction.org/free-classes.

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Congratulations to our Job Training Graduates!

graduation Friends, family, staff, and volunteers all celebrated the accomplishments of Class 56 of the Job Training and Placement Program Friday, September 21, 2018. The graduation ceremony was held at the historic El Campanil Theater in Antioch, sponsored by the Antioch Community Foundation.

Michelle Stewart, former Manager of Professional Development at Opportunity Junction, served as our special guest speaker at the graduation ceremony. Her message of perseverance and overcoming adversity was both inspiring and entertaining for all in attendance. Michelle now serves as a Career Advisor at Rubicon Programs, where she helps the re-entry population gain the skills needed to be successful in the workforce and avoid recidivism.

Two of our Class 56 graduates have already been offered employment and the rest are now completing internships at Opportunity Junction or with our community partners. During the internship phase of the program, the graduates will gain valuable administrative work experience while also engaging in job search activities.

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:

  • Monday, October 1 at 9:00 pm.
  • Thursday, October 4 at 11:00 am.
  • Saturday, October 6 at 1:00 pm.
  • Monday, October 8 at 9:00 pm.
  • Thursday, October 11 at 11:00 am.
  • Saturday, October 13 at 1:00 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 renewed its critical support of our evening Technology Center, showcasing their ongoing commitment to bridging the digital divide for low-income adults.

The Antioch Area Fund at the East Bay Community Foundation: The Antioch Area Community Fund 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.

BBVA Compass: BBVA Compass Bank issued a grant to provide general operating support. BBVA team members volunteer at Opportunity Junction, illustrating the bank's commitment to providing opportunities for people to create brighter futures.

San Francisco Foundation: The San Francisco Foundation made the second payment on a competitive two-year equity grant providing core operating support. The foundation leverages resources, expertise, and relationships to expand and achieve equity in the Bay Area.

Y&H Soda Foundation: The foundation awarded a generous operating support grant. Y&H Soda Foundation is an anti-poverty organization committed to the full participation and prosperity of the underserved in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.

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Newsletter Contributors: Cynthia Dial, Whitney Flores, Melinda Johnson, Eva Luo, and Brianna Robinson. Photographs by Chevron, Shaun Samuels, and Brianna Robinson. 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 2018