We’re introducing a new segment called Local Hero – where we will feature people working in Richmond who are going above and beyond to improve the community we love. Meet our first hero: Russell.
Russell Rosete knows the hardship in balancing grueling work shifts with college classes.
When he wasn’t working as an operator at the Chevron Richmond Refinery in the early 1980s, the Pinole High graduate was spending as much time as he could in computer science classes at Contra Costa College. He admits, “Sometimes I could only take one class per semester.”
But Rosete kept the dream alive and eventually scored an IT career at the Richmond Refinery in 1992, where within a year he built a new email system, and later built the facility’s first server, among many other accomplishments. All the while, he kept taking IT courses to further specialize in his field.
It was the great dream accomplished, right?
Not quite. More than just succeed, Rosete’s diligence eventually put him in position to help others, particularly those struggling to balance work and home life while in pursuit of an IT career.
Since 2004 on behalf of the Richmond Refinery, Rosete has coordinated the donation of nearly 2,000 computers to community organizations, with the majority going to the Stride Center, a local nonprofit that works to help local underserved men and women achieve professional careers in the burgeoning technology field.
Last month, Rosete received much-deserved recognition at the Stride Center’s Graduation and Awards Ceremony in Oakland.
“When I first heard of The Stride Center, by that time I was a lead of the IT group [at the Richmond Refinery],” Rosete said, adding that he appreciated the nonprofit’s focus on empowering low-income residents.
“You have those trying to go to school, trying to get better, to get training, while still working the job,” Rosete said. “Some can’t afford to go to school. But they want to get into IT.”
Rosete first visited the Stride Center in 2004 and donated three to five computers. Later the same year, he donated 400 or 500 computers to assist a project by The Stride Center benefitting low-income families.
“And then we did another batch in 2008 or 2009,” Rosete said.
Every time the constantly-modernizing Richmond Refinery swaps out “older” technology, Rosete looks to donate them. At the end of 2013-14, another couple hundred went to the Stride Center. Last year, he sent over 160, he said.
“I’ve got another batch, about 64 laptops, to go out now, with 30 going to a Richmond nonprofit to assist teachers aides coming out of college,” Rosete said.
The Stride Center also received four never-used servers from Chevron. While old by the Refinery’s standards, Rosete figured the technology could help the center with its server training.
“I’m always constantly trying to find ways to help them,” Rosete said. “I’m always on the lookout for computers.”
He’s even hired Stride Center students for projects. And he acts as a member of the center’s Board of Directors, among other volunteer efforts with the nonprofit.
“One of the students came in as a contractor for three months,” Rosete said. “He did so well, I kept finding projects. Now he’s a Chevron employee.”
Rosete’s success stories continue. He’s been approved to pilot a three-month internship program at the Refinery in partnership with The Stride Center. He also helps conduct mock interviews for The Stride Center’s students.
He remains another hour after interview sessions to further discuss students’ resumes.
“He is awesome, Stride students love him,” said Jannette Estrada, enrollment manager at the Stride Center. “I work closely with students and I have been hearing great feedback from the advice he provides during mock interviews at Chevron.”
Rosete credits Chevron for encouraging his participation in these community endeavors.
“It makes me feel good, and it makes me want to do more,” Rosete said.