Meet Gail Thomas and learn about Rubicon Programs

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What is Rubicon Programs’ mission?

We help people break the cycle of poverty through economic empowerment. Our goal is to get people to the point where they are able to earn a family-sustaining wage. Helping people is more involved than just getting them a job. To succeed in the long-term, people need employment as well as physical and emotional wellness and a connection to the community.

What programs does Rubicon offer in Richmond?

We have what is called a comprehensive program which is a three year effort. Because it honestly can take time for people to overcome the challenges and obstacles they face and get on the right path to a better life. We also operate the Re-Entry Success Center which is a one-stop place where people who are returning to the community can get the services they need.

When did you first become involved with Rubicon?

I first learned about Rubicon in 2009 when I needed help with housing. I had just gotten released from prison and was trying to get my life back together. I was a student at Contra Costa College but didn’t have a place to live. Rubicon helped me with that.

What was your journey to becoming a Rubicon employee?

Several years ago I had some serious health issues. When I finally got better and was able to work again, I went back to Rubicon because I knew they could help me get back on my feet. I took part in a training program and worked as a volunteer. I then got hired as an Ambassador where I helped recruit people for Rubicon’s programs. It really helped me so I wanted to be able to help other people. (She is now a Program Support Assistant).

Where would you be without Rubicon?

I’ve been to prison more than once. While I was able to stay clean at the beginning, it was a real struggle to make it over the long-term. Rubicon gave me a second chance. They helped me stay focused and get the tools I needed to work through the things that were holding me back. Rubicon gave me the support I needed to get over the hurdle.

Why is it important to have connections to the community?

Sometimes people overlook the importance of having a support system in place. You hear a lot of people say “pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” You really need a community of people around you, helping and encouraging you to succeed. Participating in civic life, like voting or joining a place of worship, goes a long way to helping break that cycle of poverty.

What advice would you give others who are facing similar challenges?

If you need help, come and try Rubicon because they can help you. To me, they are different than other programs out there. They treat you like family and that helps you move forward in a positive way. The people are always looking out for you and trying to help pick you up. That’s what kept me going and what a person needs.

Does Rubicon offer other services in the area?

Rubicon provides direct services at six locations and works in partnership with various service providers throughout Contra Costa and Alameda Counties. To learn more and find out how you can get involved, visit rubiconprograms.org or call 510-235-1516.

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