“I desperately needed a job but I had no real-life knowledge about computers and office skills needed in today’s market,” said Robbins. “But Opportunity Junction changed all that; they literally changed my life.”
Robbins is one of countless success stories whose lives have been transformed through the Antioch-based nonprofit organization that trains and places participants in sustainable jobs. Opportunity Junction reaches out to those lacking the education, job skills and self-esteem to compete in today’s job market, and equips them with the training to support themselves and their families. In addition to job training and placement, the Junction provides technology support and paid internship.
“Our mission is to help people reach self-sufficiency,” said Development Manager Brianna Burkman. “The idea that there are people who want to work but who may not have the skills or access to make it happen is something that sits badly with everyone. Everyone deserves a chance to succeed.”
And succeed they have. Since 2009, 90 percent of participants who’ve completed the job training and internship program found work within six months. And of that number, 74 percent are still employed.
Subsidized by federal funding, foundation grants, fundraisers and donations, Opportunity Junction has plenty of openings available for interested students. And according to Burkman, it’s one of the best-kept secrets in Contra Costa County.
“Few people know that our services are available at no cost,” she said. “And another secret is how much we rely on community and employer partners to fulfill our mission. Without the partnership of organizations that help with internships, staffing services and job placements, we would not see the same level of success. Just as the whole community benefits, we rely on the community to help us reach our goals.”
Students who come to Opportunity Junction are much like Robbins: single mothers in their mid-30s with minimal education, limited job skills – and sometimes the victims of domestic abuse and poverty.
The benefits, however, are reciprocal. “Our mission of helping people reach self-sufficiency by supporting themselves and their families benefits the entire community,” said Burkman. “When alumni find work and are able to support their families, it breaks the cycle of poverty for generations. Their children see their mothers supporting themselves, off aid and happy with their success. And that helps teach their children self-reliance and the power of working.”
But for Opportunity Junction graduate Shaunette Buchanan, the organization has been more than a series of classes, training and eventual employment. The program has been a literal lifesaver.
“Because of Opportunity Junction, I can provide for my kids and give them the attention they deserve,” she said. “When I was at the lowest point in my life, Opportunity Junction supported me and showed me how to tackle the world. In just a year, I have built more self-esteem and I can provide for my kids.”
Opportunity Junction is located at 3102 Delta Fair Boulevard. For more information, call 925-776-1133, or visit www.opportunityjunction.org.