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January 28, 2009 > Bridges to Jobs: A Helping Hand in Difficult Times

Bridges to Jobs: A Helping Hand in Difficult Times

By Mai El-Sadany

With national unemployment over 6.7 percent, neighbors, friends, and family all seem to be suffering from failing industries and a poor financial market. Although a number of programs offer professional networking, few combine professional training workshops, networking opportunities, and a safe, caring environment. Bridges to Jobs, a no fee community outreach program founded and run by Chuck Castagnolo, strives to do just this.

Located in Fremont, this group is committed to "helping individuals who are unemployed or looking for a new job." Castagnolo founded Bridges to Jobs when he realized that there were no local groups "where people could feel safe and secure, but also get training for resume writing and interview practice." The group's first formal meeting was held on March 29, 2008 and it has since grown to approximately 250 members.

Meeting weekly on Saturday mornings, members are encouraged to come early or stay late in order to socialize with others and make the most of professional networking opportunities. In addition to networking opportunities, a number of classes and workshops are offered. An interview skills workshop is held every 3-4 weeks and a special workshop on body language is also quite popular. Castagnolo says, "We run the other training sessions depending on the group we are working with and what is important for them." After going through the various sessions, he says, "members come up really polished and are ready to shine in an interview."

Members of Bridges to Jobs come from a variety of different backgrounds. "We have people who come in and they don't know what to do," says Castagnolo. In addition to the members searching for professional guidance, the group also acts as "an outlet for employers, recruiters, and other placement entities to publicize their job opportunities."

As a completely volunteer-based group, Bridges to Jobs depends wholly on donations from its members, the outside community, and other groups. It works actively with the Employment Development Department of the State of California, the Tri-Cities One Stop Career Center through Ohlone College, ProNet, and the Fremont Unified School District Continuing Education Department to assist individuals locate new employment.

A strong rapport within the group brings its diverse members together. Castagnolo notes, "It's a group where people can come together and feel that they're not alone... We're all in the same boat."

Chuck Castagnolo encourages new members to attend Bridges to Jobs' weekly meetings. The meetings are held every Saturday from 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. on the Centerville Presbyterian Church campus, Room E201, 4360 Central Avenue, Fremont.
Donations to Bridges to Jobs are always welcome. Anyone interested may contact Chuck Castagnolo at: bridgestojobs@yahoo.com.

For more information about Bridges to Jobs, please visit the following website: www.bridgestojobs.org

Bridges to Jobs
Saturdays
9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Centerville Presbyterian Church
4360 Central Avenue, Room E201, Fremont
www.bridgestojobs.org
bridgestojobs@yahoo.com

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