Friday, March 29, 2013

Meet the First Graduating Class of JobTrain's Life Skills Boot Camp!

On March 28, 2013, JobTrain celebrated the first graduating class of the LIFE SKILLS BOOT CAMP. Fourteen students completed the pilot program, which spanned 10-weeks and consisted of 20 individual workshops. The initial core classes emphasized goal setting and conflict resolution, the requisite soft skills needed for strong interpersonal communication and relationships. The curriculum concluded with survival skills and taught students the principles of how to manage their day-to-day lives.

The Life Skills Boot Camp was the brainchild of Russell Pyne, a longtime JobTrain advocate, board member for 17 years and former chairman of the board of directors.  “In a way, I like to think I was promoted,” he said of leading the workshop. “It was the next step in my evolution of getting to know JobTrain. Previously, I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with the clients.”

The boot camp and its curriculum were developed approximately a year ago, after Pyne taught a workshop on personal finance as encouraged by his dear friend and JobTrain Executive Director Sharon Williams. “As a VC, my life is focused on finance and entrepreneurship,” said Russell, who is founder and Managing Director of Menlo Park-based Atrium Capital.  ”Teaching the workshop was a wonderful experience. My students responded so positively that I decided I wanted to do more.”
 In order to launch the first ever JobTrain Life Skills Boot Camp, Pyne worked with one of his students, Alfred Banks and created a life skills curriculum. The objective of the pilot program was to level the playing field and establish opportunities for clients regardless of their backgrounds. “Some people have the benefit of growing up being mentored by parents, teachers and bosses. Others have no positive role models. Alfred and I tried to focus on the basic life skills you need to be prepared for the working world,” said Pyne.

The Life Skills Boot Camp graduation was remarkable, the enthusiasm and pride of its graduates and their families and friends was undeniable.  Philanthropist, community activist and comedian Michael Pritchard delivered an unforgettable keynote speech. 
“Don’t let the mediocre blow your candle out.  Create a group of people here in this room with this first graduating class. Make this a solid and tight of a group as you have ever been around. Stay close to each other in every way that you can. Love each other; support each other – and you will change our community, our country, our planet – our world,” said Pritchard.
 After receiving their certificates of completion, the graduates presented select JobTrain staff with awards signifying their appreciation for their ongoing support and mentorship.  

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

JobTrain + Stanford = Winning Team!

Left to right: Susan Boiko, Sharon Williams & Sasha Gourevitch

Congratulations to the Stanford Women's Basketball team for cruising into the third round of the NCAA Tournament with a crushing 73-40 victory over Michigan on March 26, 2013.

Led by their outstanding coach and proud JobTrain board member Tara Va
nDerveer, the Cardinal women’s basketball team dominated both ends of the floor Tuesday night at home. They led by 25 at the half (and as much by 33 overall), and kept the momentum going! 

JobTrain's Executive Director Sharon Williams; Director of Development Susan Boiko and daughter Sasha Gourevitch, Youth Services Coordinator; attended the exciting game.

Stanford (33-2) catapulted their winning streak to 19 consecutive games, and are heading up to Spokane, Washington to take on the Georgia Bulldogs (27-6) in the tournament’s regional semifinal this Saturday at 6PM.


Friday, March 22, 2013

The Almanac & Silicon Valley Community Foundation Honor JobTrain For Community Impact

JobTrain's Staff & The Almanac's Tom Gibboney & Milton Speid of the SVCF 
On Wednesday, March 20, 2013, The Almanac and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, recognized and rewarded JobTrain - along with nine other local non-profits for their impact in the community.

The money came from the Almanac Holiday Fund in partnership with the foundation, and JobTrain was one of ten dynamic non-profits selected to share $172,000. 

JobTrain's submission for the Holiday Fund, profiled the strength, resolve and tenacity of JobTrain graduate Kamal. Please click HERE to read the article. 

JobTrain is truly grateful for the $17,253.00 check provided to us. With this generous financial support, we'll be able to extend our reach even further and help more individuals in our community transform their lives and fulfill their potential. 

JobTrain proudly shares the honor and recognition alongside our community partners that provide outstanding contributions every single day:
Boys & Girls Club of the Peninsula
* Ecumenical Hunger Program
InnVision Shelter Network
Project Read - Menlo Park Literacy Partners
* Ravenswood Family Health Center
Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara & San Mateo Counties
St. Anthony's Padua Dining Room
* St. Francis Center 
* StarVista

Together we are empowering communities, transforming lives and achieving measurable results!

Meet Elaine Rodriguez: JobTrain's Newest Staff Award Recipient!

Every month, JobTrain's Executive Director Sharon Williams, presents one lucky staff member with the coveted JobTrain Staff Award. Please join us in congratulating PeninsulaWorks Information Specialist Elaine Rodriguez, for winning this truly well-deserved award for her outstanding and admirable commitment to JobTrain clients and for her extraordinary dedication to the organization.

Please be sure to check out the exciting VIDEO and watch Elaine's sheer surprise at being selected as the March 2013 Staff Star Award Recipient!

Monday, March 18, 2013

JobTrain Receives Congressional Recognition

On Saturday March 16, 2013 was presented with a Certificate of Recognition by Congresswoman Jackie Speier for "sending reinforcement to the Congressional Speier Corps Winter Work Days."

JobTrain students and staff were honored for providing invaluable service to sprucing up San Mateo and San Francisco parks and recreational areas.

"Doing volunteer work with my fellow alum and JobTrain staff made me feel happy and like we really can make a difference in this world." - Irene Soto, JobTrain Medical Office Assistant graduate. 

Left to right: Dylan Hayes of San Francisco Recreation and Parks, JobTrain Graduate Irene Soto, Congresswoman Speier Volunteer Coordinator Judy Bloom, JobTrain Director of Marketing and PR Kail Lubarsky and JobTrain Graduate Tra'cey Du. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Page Full of Memories: JobTrain's Unbelievable Day at Facebook!

Fifteen lucky JobTrain students, staff and alumni awoke this morning with smiles plastered on their faces from yesterday’s unbelievable Facebook experience. They received an exclusive tour of the social media giant’s sprawling campus, which now employs more than 4,000 individuals.  

JobTrain "tagged" the wall before flashing the Facebook "LIKE."
Facebook’s Sustainability and Community Outreach Manager Lauren Swezey, and Facilities Administrative Assistant Nikki Zeiter, provided an extraordinary tour that included behind the scenes access to the daily operations occurring at Facebook. JobTrain saw visiting engineers from Europe and Southeast Asia convening at headquarters.  However, the most recognizable and exciting engineer seen was Mark Zuckerberg! He was calm, casual and completely down-to-earth, walking the campus in his signature tee shirt and jeans.

Facebook’s renovation is close to completion according to Lauren Swezey. Their atmosphere is inviting, and has a distinct “Disneyland meets college vibe to it,” said JobTrain graduate Stephanie O’Dowd.  The ironic part is that the perception is based in truth.  Representatives from the "Happiest Place on Earth," came up to Facebook to discuss the street concept, "which is reminiscent of Downtown Disney,” relayed Swezey.

Lauren Swezey stands alongside Sunny Sharma.
Our hospitable Facebook community ambassadors, invited JobTrain to enjoy the same amenities provided to their employees. A trip to their micro kitchen, a stroll down to their cafeteria and a delectable indulgence at their “Sweet Stop,” which featured the most amazingly delicious frozen yogurt, soft serve ice cream and decadent assortment of chocolate treats.   

Further, JobTrain took pride in seeing two recent graduates in action working at Facebook.  Sunreet “Sunny” Sharma, recently received his certification in Culinary Arts, and is now contracted through Flagship and helps prepare some of the approximate 8,000 meals which Facebook provides to their employees daily. Christopher Smith, graduated from Office Skills, also contracted through Flagship, works as a Facebook security officer.
JobTrain PROUDLY dons the signature Facebook attire!
 Unequivocally, Facebook, goes beyond connecting people and transcends towards transforming lives. This is especially evident in the case of contracting work to JobTrain graduates and sponsorship of JobTrain’s special events, which facilitate providing critical vocational training programs at no cost to the community’s most in need.

JobTrain was the first non-profit in Menlo Park that Facebook provided financial support to. Since 2011, the company has remained an extraordinary and dynamic partner. JobTrain is incredibly proud and grateful of our relationship with Facebook.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sharon Williams Passes JobTrain Leadership Torch

EAST PALO ALTO, Calif.Feb. 27, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Sharon Williams, JobTrain's long-time executive director, will step away from her position in late spring or early summer.  A reception and dinner will be held at the Four Seasons Silicon Valley in East Palo Altoon March 9 to celebrate Sharon's leadership and to raise funds for her "Life Skills" legacy to JobTrain.  
Sharon joined JobTrain as a GED teacher in 1973 and became Director of Development in 1978.  She took the helm as Executive Director in 1979.  During her thirty plus years in JobTrain's top spot, Sharon and her team transformed a beleaguered nonprofit into a premier job training and placement institution. Major accomplishments include the purchase and renovation of a 31,000 square foot training facility; accreditation through Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC); creation of cutting edge training; and a diverse funding base that includes support from prestigious Silicon Valley leaders and corporations.
Sharon's most valuable contribution to JobTrain is perhaps the most difficult to define. Often referred to as JobTrain's "secret sauce", it is the upbeat and energetic spirit that permeates the organization. "We believe in the potential of every person who comes to us," says Sharon, "and that helps them believe in themselves. Once they know they can succeed, the challenge is nearly won." JobTrain currently helps 8,000 people each year, 500-600 of them through full-time vocational training. At least 85% of those who enroll complete their training; 75% are placed in jobs; and 12 months after placement, 84% are still working.
Vocational training skills constitute one important aspect of a multi-faceted approach to success. "Vocational skills prepare our graduates for employment. These skills get them hired and help them launch careers," says Sharon. " But their life skills, their attitudes and habits, will determine long-term life success and deeper happiness." Life skills are modeled by JobTrain staff and are incorporated into every trainee's daily experience at JobTrain.  Life skills are also taught as a stand-alone course.
"Ironically," says Sharon, "this vital aspect of training is often perceived as an 'extra' and is at risk when funding limitations dictate cutbacks. Life skills are an essential ingredient in our formula for success. My legacy will be to assure the long-term continuation of life skills training."   
Sharon Williams has been an active community change agent for many years, always looking out for those who most need help.  She currently serves on the boards of Center for Excellence in Nonprofits (CEN) and the East Palo Alto Digital Village. She previously served on the boards of the East Palo Alto Senior Center, Boys & Girls Club of the Peninsula, Leadership Mid-Peninsula, and the Workforce Investment Board of San Mateo County. 
Sharon Williams has been honored with many awards, including the Career Action Center's Woman of Vision Award, the Palo Alto Chamber's Athena Award, induction into the San Mateo County Women's Hall of Fame, the University of the Pacific's Distinguished Alumni Award and the Silicon Valley Women of Influence Award. Sharon is an ALF (American Leadership Forum) Senior Fellow. 

For information about Sharon's Legacy Dinner, scheduled for March 9 at the Four Seasons Silicon Valley, please contact Susan Boiko at 650-330-6521 or                 

Sharon Williams Legacy Established to Fund Ongoing Life Skills Training
Life Skills training is central to achieving long-term success. This is where trainees learn the values, behaviors and habits that will propel them forward in life. Life Skills training instills the ethic of hard work, dependability, initiative and integrity. It inspires trainees to achieve balance and perspective, and to become enthusiastic participants in life.    

About JobTrain:
JobTrain transforms lives and communities in Silicon Valley.  Since 1965, we've helped more than 160,000 men and women in the Valley reclaim their lives from welfare, incarceration and unemployment by preparing them for successful careers in high-demand and emerging fields.  JobTrain, formerly OICW, transforms personal motivation into real skills that are the foundation self-sufficiency and self-esteem. In addition to "vocational training," we understand that fundamental and sustainable transformations require a high school diploma, computer literacy, one-on-one counseling, as well as access to basics like housing, transportation and childcare – and we assist our clients with all of these needs.  In a rough economy, JobTrain places 75% of its graduates in quality jobs.  Each individual success story proves that – with time, commitment and resources – powerful transformations do happen.