Spring 2013

PIC Logo 
News from the Oakland Private Industry Council
in partnership with the Oakland Workforce Investment Board
Serving the Community...A Look at the Numbers
Youth on the Highway to Work!
Hostess Workers...We've Got Your Back!
WIST Graduate Joins IBEW 595 Staff
Denise Bell: Breaking Through Barriers

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We are so grateful to greet 2013 with you,

Gay Plair Cobb, PIC CEO
Gay Plair Cobb, PIC CEO

our friends and colleagues.  We stand side  

by side with you as we reach for the hope and promise that each new year brings.


2012 brought us many joys and many sorrows. Those of us working or living in Oakland are all too familiar with the seemingly perpetual sound of sirens and the ever-rising homicide and injury count in the city. I'm sure many of you have been personally impacted by the violence, and recently, it landed on our doorstep. One of

our own staff members, Louis King, a bystander, was shot twice on an East Oakland street.

He heard the shots and as he tried to dodge bullets, one shattered his right forearm, the other grazed his chest. Another innocent bystander, a grandmother, was killed and others were injured. We give thanks that Louis will recover and we await his return.


To state the obvious: violence stems from social, racial, and economic inequity and the huge opportunity gap that continues to plague us. The PIC recommits itself to closing the gap and carrying out our mission of "building a world class workforce" through partnership and persistence. Dr. King asked: "How long?" And we respond: "Not long!"
Louis King 

During the 2011-2012 program year, the Oakland PIC Career Centers (downtown Oakland and Eastmont locations) served thousands of Oakland job seekers.  Take a look...
PIC Numbers 8
The Highway to Work...




Highway to Work (H2W), Alameda County's summer and year-round youth employment program, provided approximately 500 young people with employment opportunities beginning June 2012. One of the highlights of H2W is that youth can keep their jobs by working after-school, providing them fully subsidized employment through June  2013.   

This successful H2W collaboration began with the support of the Alameda County Social Services Agency, which awarded PIC the youth employment contract. PIC partnered with 10 outstanding organizations throughout the County to administer the contract and put our young folks to work.


Thus far, participating worksites have included Rubicon, the City of Oakland, Dig Deep Farms, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, Cal State University Eastbay, Joyce Gordon Gallery and Silliman Aquatic Center.


"All of our partnering agencies have their own unique gifts, and they continue to utilize those gifts to the maximum benefit of our youth," stated Rayna Lett-Bell, programs coordinator at PIC. Rayna has spearheaded the H2W program from its inception, and has been one of the driving forces keeping the program on track. 



Over the coming months, each of our partnering agencies will highlight a youth in their respective programs. This newsletter features stories of Ramon Gonzales from Soulciety (Hayward) and Dominic Gates from Berkeley Youth Alternatives.



Ramon Gonzales

Ramon Gonzalez 


When Ramon Gonzales started with Soulciety, he struggled in several areas. Through his participation, he has become extremely active in school and the Culinary Regional Occupational Program. Because of Ramon's interest in cooking, we were able to place him at a restaurant for work experience. The restaurant, Buddy's, speaks very highly of Ramon and sees the potential for him to climb very high within their company. He started as an assistant and is now helping to prepare cold foods for this busy restaurant, and he loves every minute. Ramon's worksite supervisor says that they all love him and consider him a valuable part of their team. Ramon took a moment to write about his experience in the program:


"Soulciety taught me a variety of things such as managing money, how to keep a job, punctuality and so much more. They showed me how to communicate with others in a positive way and to not be afraid to ask questions or ask for help. Ron, Aaron, Cathy, Gina, and Tony gave me the opportunity I've longed for - thank you guys."



Berkeley Youth Alternatives (BYA)

Dominic Gates

Dominic Gates  


Dominic Gates is a participant in the Highway to Work Program with Berkeley Youth Alternatives. His case manager is Jamee Harris.


Dominic has been through many bumps in his life. As a kid, he was in and out of group homes and had trouble with the law. He enrolled with the Highway to Work program over the summer and has flourished as both a person and a professional. He is now working at Rubicon and Farm Fresh Choice.   Dominic says that working at Rubicon has made him more confident around professional adults, while his job at Farm Fresh Choice makes him feel like he's making a difference in people's lives.


Of his experience with the program, Dominic states:


"Highway to Work really changes lives. It is helping me become more successful in my life. I recommend you take this opportunity and run with it! "




Hostess Workers, We've Got  

Your Back!


Hostess Brands, the makers of Wonder Bread, Ho Hos, Ding Dongs, SnoBalls and the ever-popular Twinkie, shut down its operations last month, laying off most of its 18,500 workers after failing to come to an agreement with its bakers' union.  Ronald Parker worked as a route sales driver for Hostess for over 12 years. "At 54 years old, I never thought I'd be out of work; I never missed a day."


Ronald came to Hostess after working in the security industry for 30 years. He and his wife of 34 years started a family and the hours of the security business took precious time away from his kids. Ronald had a friend who worked at Hostess who told him he should apply as a driver because they made early morning deliveries and his afternoons could be free. Ronald was hired and his work day began at 4am and ended at 1pm. "I was able to bond with my kids because I had more time to spend with them."

Ronald Parker
Ronald Parker 


Ronald's last day of work was Friday, November 16, 2012. Hostess contacted the PIC to engage its Rapid Response team to share information about available transition services for workers that have lost their jobs as a result of a layoff or facility closure. Rapid Response activities include an initial meeting with the employer and follow-up orientations for the workers affected by the pending transition. Anne Chan, Rapid Response Manager, set-up two orientations for the Hostess workers, December 3 and 17th, to ensure that all employees received information about the resources available to identify new employment opportunities. "We are so sorry that Hostess had to close their doors and we are doing everything we can to provide them the crucial resources that are needed at this time," says Chan.


Fortunately, Ronald does have a part-time job sorting mail that provides some relief during this challenging transition. "I'm committed to my family, and you do what you have to do," he says. "The Rapid Response orientation was very informative - I am registered with the center and will take full advantage of all they have to offer."





Rachel Bryan


Oakland native Rachel Bryan was looking for a career opportunity, and when construction was suggested, she jumped right in.  A friend told Rachel about Women in Skilled Trades (WIST), a pre-apprenticeship program initiated by the PIC, in partnership with Laney Community College.  WIST pioneered a way for many young women to participate in  historically male-dominated fields like construction, and Rachel is a great example of the importance of such programs. 


In 1998, WIST merged with the Cypress Mandela Training Program, a collaboration of several community partners operated under the direction of the PIC. Training carpenters, electricians, heavy equipment workers, and other types of skilled laborers, Cypress was created in response to the damage and subsequent rebuilding needed after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. In 2004 the Cypress Mandela Training Center, Inc. spun off as an independent non-profit corporation and continues to provide services to the community from its West Oakland location.



     Rachel construction 1

 Rachel at work 


Rachel was first introduced to WIST in 2005 by a friend who had completed the program. She enrolled and completed a four-month pre-apprenticeship program with perfect attendance. Rachel then applied to become an Indentured Apprentice at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), and in 2011, completed a five-year apprenticeship to become a Journey Level Electrician. "I love the physicality of the work because I'm engaging my mind, body and spirit. I also enjoy the economic freedom I have as a Union Electrician," Rachel states.


Rachel construction 2  Rachel Bryan...yes she did! 


Because of Rachel's involvement in the community and her volunteer efforts, she is now working directly for her union hall in the new position of Community Liaison/Compliance and Governmental Relations for the IBEW.   "We are thrilled to have Rachel working for our union - she represents a wonderful new generation of IBEW leaders. We know she will inspire many other young women to follow in her footsteps," says Victor Uno, Business Manager for IBEW Local 595.


Rachel is very excited about her new job stating: "This position gives me the opportunity to be involved with community organizations, interfacing with local politics and issues. The image of skilled labor is changing and I'm happy to be part of that change." 


Denise Bell

Denise Bell


Denise Bell...Breaking Through Barriers! 


"I stared working with the Breaking through Barriers program while living in a homeless shelter," stated 22 year old Denise Bell. Denise is among countless numbers of youth moving through life with little social or economic support, and the PIC's Breaking through Barriers (BtB) program has been a life saver for many, providing them with employment and advocacy.

Denise began working with Glenn Bell, (no relation), a Retention Specialist in the BtB program in February of this year.  By her own admission, Denise recalled her impatience and frustration with her life situation. She dreamed of becoming a Registered Nurse, but thought that was an unattainable goal.   She wanted something with a fast-track, requiring only a brief time commitment.  Glenn was able to help her see the value in a more long-term solution. "I listened to Denise, and worked with her to create a plan with realistic goals, and ultimately, she chose Medical Assisting as a foot-in-the-door approach to achieving her dream of becoming a nurse," Glenn states.


To date, Denise has completed her training as a Clinical Medical Assistant at the Fast Response School of Healthcare in Berkeley.  In addition, Denise will begin an externship at Kaiser this month. As a Medical Assistant, she'll be performing clinical procedures like administering injections and electrocardiograms (EKGs). Denise says of her experience "the first few weeks were very difficult; I've never studied so much or worked so hard, but now I'm one of the top students in my class and my future looks really promising."


 Denise is an active member of her church, and is on track to fulfill her dream of becoming a Registered Nurse. "Glenn has done a lot; he never got frustrated with me."   When asked what helps to keep her on track, Denise states, "I put my faith in God, and I keep coming to PIC."