Opportunity Junction

31 December 2019 Written by  By Don Huntington
Published in January 2020 Articles

We Strengthen Families Through Job Training

Opportunity Junction is assisting East County residents to thrive in their personal lives and professional careers. Their files are overflowing with testimonies of people whom they were able to assist in making quality-of-life changes and career choices leading to new levels of stability, both personal and financial.

Laura said that she will be thankful to Opportunity Junction for coming into her life at exactly the right time.

Laura is one example of their 700 Administrative Career Training alumni who achieved financial stability and started down a pathway towards their goals and their dreams. Laura was working in the mortgage industry and her husband in construction. They imagined that they were secure in their lives and careers. However, things began to fall apart when the 2010 economic meltdown struck and Laura lost her job. After trying to string together a few part time jobs with barely enough income to cover childcare costs, the young couple decided it would be best for Laura to stay home and care for their two young children.

As the children grew to school age, Laura began volunteering in her children’s classrooms. She discovered a love for working with children and got a part-time job supervising students in the lunch room and playground. Laura said that she felt a calling to become a classroom teacher. However, she lacked both the education and funds to pay for the schooling she needed. With Alvino as the family’s only full-time provider, family finances were tight, so Laura determined to re-enter the fulltime workforce, help her family meet their financial goals and, if possible, earn enough for her to attend college and become a teacher.

Laura’s pathway to making her dream come true was when she enrolled in Opportunity Junction’s Administrative Career Training program and developed professional skills that opened doors to a higher paying job. After completing the training program, Laura was able to get a position as an administrative assistant helping First Five Contra Costa with their child development and school-readiness programs. She was fulfilling her desire to work with children while being able to save money to finance her dream of becoming a teacher. Laura was delighted with her new job. “I knew from the beginning that it was meant to be,” she said.

Laura said that Opportunity Junction was a blessing. It put her life on a new path that cured the depressions, stress-induced headaches, and dreary days following the loss of her job.

“I started to feel proud of myself again,” she said. Then she added, “My whole family is stronger and happier because they get to see me happy.” For the rest of her life, Laura said that she will be thankful to Opportunity Junction for coming into her life at exactly the right time. She wants to encourage others to take advantage of the opportunity that made such a dramatic change for her.

Opportunity Junction specifically helps people to help themselves with their Administrative Career Training program that offers 12 weeks of no-cost intensive computer training and life skills classes. The training is obviously effective because 90% of their alumni find employment within six months of completing the course — some of them much sooner. In addition, 65% of their recent alumni have earned promotions or pay-raises within the first 18 months of employment. Their alumni have earned at least 67 million dollars since they began verifying income in 2010.

The Administrative Career Training program is designed to assist low-income adults who are seeking administrative careers to gain the skills and confidence necessary to find employment that will better support themselves and their families. They are trained for real life in the working world and are coached in developing a healthy balance of work and family life. When necessary, they are offered transportation support. Loaves and Fishes provides trainees with hot lunches during the week and the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano Counties supplies groceries to take home during the weekend. Participants have access to an on-site licensed psychologist who is available to assist them in overcoming any barriers to employment.

After completing the course, graduates are offered up to four months paid internships. Opportunity Junction staff offers job placement assistance and coaches them on interview skills. Opportunity Junction partners with a variety of local businesses who give them a “first look” at new employment opportunities. Their business services manager matches qualified interns and alumni with appropriate job listings. The services of Opportunity Junction are an “easy sale” to local businesses because they like being able to recruit from a pool of highly qualified motivated, and thoroughly vetted administrative personnel. They also appreciate the fact that they can hire our graduates without paying finders fees to a recruiting service.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO KEEP OPPORTUNITY JUNCTION GOING

Opportunity Junction is able to offer their no cost programs to low income participants through funding that comes from donations and grants. Just over 10 percent of their budget comes from individual donors and revenues from an annual Imagine Gala fundraiser. You can be part of this by becoming a sponsor yourself. The Gala will be a particularly notable event this year because they will be celebrating their 20th year of service to the community. The Gala will be held at the luxurious Diablo Country Club. Dan Ashley, from ABC-7 News, will be Master of Ceremonies.

Mark Saturday, April 25, on your calendar and purchase your ticket today at www.opportunityjunction.org/gala. Don’t miss it! You can offer your support in a number of other ways through the Gala. You can get some publicity for yourself and/or your company by donating goods or services as auction items. You can be most directly involved by becoming a volunteer at the event. Even more than that, you can commit to becoming a volunteer with the organization, joining more than 100 fellow-residents in service. Opportunity Junction always has more opportunities for volunteer services than volunteers to do them.

LET OPPORTUNITY JUNCTION HELP YOU HELP YOURSELF

Opportunity Junction offers other services. For example, in partnership with Mt. Diablo Adult Education and Ombudsman Services of Contra Costa and Solano Counties, they offer a fulltime 12-week Healthcare Career Pathways program, which trains participants to become Certified Nursing Assistants. The full time 12 week program includes hands-on clinical experience. Opportunity Junction also offers a program called Road Map, which provides one-on-one support for young adults exploring their path to college and/or career. Additional offerings include career counseling, a free to the public evening technology center, and a DIY tax assistance program. Their Road Map program offers one-on-one support for young adults in plotting a pathway to a professional career. They also offer general career counseling, free evening access to their technology center, and do-it-yourself tax assistance.

Opportunity Junction offers the Administrative Career Training program three times each year, with classes beginning in January, May, and September. The next session begins on February 3. For more details, plan to attend a weekly information session each Tuesday 10:00 a.m., at their 3102 Delta Fair Boulevard, Antioch headquarters. Tell your neighbors and friends who might be interested. Get the word out! Let Opportunity Junction help them, as well. Make a difference! 

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