Opportunity Junction is one of Strive for Change’s most effective and successful grantees. For twenty years they have provided unique services in Eastern Contra Costa County and are considered to be one of the best-run non-profits providing workforce development services. Executive Director Alissa Friedman has effectively managed challenges regarding staff, recruitment and retention, finding solutions, working with public agencies and using best practices for non-profits. Opportunity Junction has implemented program modifications necessary to continue to offer services in the COVID-19 environment by converting to all-online services immediately following the shelter-in-place order and providing laptops as needed to participants.
The Strive for Change Foundation has supported Opportunity Junction since 2007 and is proud to honor this worthy, well-run and inspiring organization with a grant for 2020.
The following is the success story of a hard-working Opportunity Junction graduate who overcame enormous challenges in order to provide her family with a more promising financial future. Please read it, and share our pride.
I was hired immediately with one of OJ’s job leads!
“When the COVID pandemic hit, my husband lost overtime hours at work. With my classes on hold and his reduced hours, I was starting to worry.” Opportunity Junction staff stepped up to help CNA (certified nursing assistant) students gain employment even amidst this crisis. Less than four weeks of training and a certification test —that is all that was left of Andrea’s intensive training program to become a Certified Nursing Assistant when the COVID pandemic shut down Contra Costa County
With a long history as a home caregiver and then a stay-at-home mom, Andrea had a dream of becoming a nurse. When her kids were old enough, she took the first steps by enrolling into a Healthcare Career Pathways partnership program with Opportunity Junction, Mt. Diablo Adult Education, and Ombudsman Services.
“I really loved the training,” she shares, “especially the focus on patient care. I discovered so many new things and how to be a better caregiver. If we are having problems affecting us emotionally, Erica (Opportunity Junction Professional Skills Instructor) supports and motivates us. I appreciated the gas cards I received as part of the program and the hot lunch and groceries on the weekends.”
However, in March, her training was suspended when the clinical instruction partners were unable to continue with the training. “When the COVID pandemic hit, my husband lost overtime hours at work. With my classes on hold and his reduced hours, I was starting to worry.”
It was just then that Opportunity Junction reached out to the CNA students who had their training on hold with job connections with a homecare provider, All Seasons Home Care. “I decided to take the opportunity to support my family during this time.”
Andrea was hired immediately into a full time position. “I am so happy with the company and feel so welcome. I even received a bonus check from them as an appreciation.”
“My plan is to continue my training when we can and continue to work part-time. After a year or two, I will apply to become a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN). I am glad that the program will still be there to support me at that time.