New cycle of paid job-training in Contra Costa that transforms lives

Mary Turner (left), a graduate of the WFD program at St. Vincent de Paul, hugs her mentor Gail F. (right) outside of her newly purchased home in Stockton, California. Photo: St. Vincent de Paul of Contra Costa

From St. Vincent de Paul of Contra Costa and the Workforce Development Program

A new session of the Workforce Development Program at St. Vincent de Paul is gearing up to help people in need find gainful and meaningful employment. Participants from past sessions note that the program has transformed their lives – given them the training and confidence to enter the workplace. With introductory sessions in Pittsburg, Brentwood, and Pleasant Hill – the WFD program at St. Vincent de Paul is aiming to help the most vulnerable in Contra Costa County develop the personal tools they will need to find and keep a good job. Interested participants are asked to attend 2 introductory sessions, which will take place in:

  • Pittsburg – at St. Vincent de Paul, 2210 Gladstone Drive, 2/22 & 2/27/23 from 2 – 5 pm
  • Pleasant Hill –at Christ the King Church, 195 Brandon Road, 2/23 & 2/28/23 from 10 am – 1 pm
  • Brentwood – at St. Vincent de Paul, 8890 Brentwood Blvd., 2/26 & 3/3/23 from 2 – 5 pm

The WFD program at St. Vincent de Paul is a job-training program which pairs paid on the job training at one of SVdP’s 3 thrift stores with transformative classroom instruction & 1-on-1 mentorship with dedicated community mentors to help people with barriers to employment find and maintain a good job. Compassionate community volunteers lead participants through paid classroom instruction geared toward helping them develop the interpersonal tools needed to navigate today’s working world and offer transformative 1-on-1 mentorship to help participants overcome the obstacles between them and meaningful employment. Many of the WFD program’s participants have overcome the barriers of homelessness, a criminal record, or the uncertainty of being a refugee in a foreign country.

Afghan refugee and WFD program graduate Ajmal Aria now works as the Director of Operations at Opening Doors, a Sacramento based non-profit that helps refugees acclimate to their new home.

“We were living in a small apartment in Concord, two bedrooms for the seven of us. I have a degree, but I had to support my family, so I was working for DoorDash and Uber to do what I could to feed my family,” Ajmal said. “The WFD program at SVdP gave me the breathing room I needed while making sure my family survives. The volunteers at SVdP helped me adjust to this country and find a job that truly utilizes my training and skills – and lets me provide a good income for my family.”

Today, WFD program graduate James Neitte works as a Shipping and Receiving Specialist for Lowe’s Home Improvement. A former construction worker, James found the WFD program after falling into a life of crime. At age 49 and facing multiple felony charges, he could not foresee a happy ending for himself.

“I was convinced I was going to jail for at least 10 year, I thought my story was over,” James said. “It was just so powerful to be surrounded by people who genuinely cared about seeing me succeed. No one in the program cared that I had a past, they just wanted to help me have a future. It taught me a lot. I’m really thankful for the volunteers at SVdP and for the WFD program.”

A senior citizen, Mary Turner was living in her car when she learned about the WFD program at SVdP. Dependent upon a fixed income between SSI and disability, Mary could not keep up with her rising rent. Today, a graduate from the WFD program, Mary not only works as an Advanced Medical Care Specialist with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, helping the county veterans, Mary was able to purchase her first home, and is no longer living in her car.

“I’ve lived a fairly hard life,” Mary said. “There were just certain things I never learned, because when I was young you just didn’t need to know those things to find a job. At SVdP they showed me how to do things I’ve never had to do before, like build a resume. It was a lot of hard work, but I was determined to turn my life around and they were there to help me.”

St. Vincent de Paul of Contra Costa County has provided safety-net services in the county for over 58 years, serving 100,000 people annually and distributing over $1.7 million in direct financial assistance and over $2.3 million of in-kind aid. Over 700 SVdP volunteers and a small staff lead operations in Contra Costa including the SVdP Family Resource Center in Pittsburg, 28 branches, and 3 Thrift Stores. One of the largest charitable organizations in the world, St. Vincent de Paul is an international, nonprofit, Catholic lay organization of more than 800,000 men and women who voluntarily join together to grow spiritually by offering person-to-person service to the needy and suffering in 155 countries on five continents.

Applicants are required to attend both a Part 1 and Part 2 session, at the location most convenient for them. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age. To learn more and download an application, visit To RSVP for a session call (925) 439-5060 or email

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