March 2017 Newsletter

Categories: News


National Farmworker Awareness Week

March 24 – 31


Farmworker week banner

National Farmworker Awareness Week is March 24-31.

National Farmworker Awareness Week (NFAW) is a week of action for students and community members to raise awareness about farmworker issues on our campuses and in our communities. In 2017 we celebrate the 18th Annual National Farmworker Awareness Week to raise awareness about farmworker conditions and to honor their important contributions to us every day!

Friday, March 24 | Life
Saturday, March 25 | Culture
Sunday, March 26 | Borders
Monday, March 27 | Work
Tuesday, March 28 | Health
Wednesday, March 29 | Family
Thursday, March 30 | Hope
Friday, March 31| Resistance

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Pursuing the American Dream

Efrain is a member of the ASSET training program


Kim Parnell

Kim Parnell is a Case Manager in Nebraska.

Looking for a better way to provide for their family, Efrain’s parents came to the United States first while he remained in San Juan Tepeuxila, Oaxaca, with his grandparents. Efrain remembers that they didn’t have many toys, so the children had to make their own fun. Efrain and his friends would ride his grandpa’s calves rodeo-style, counting how many times the calves “jumped” to establish a winner. They made their own fun this way, until Efrain’s grandpa would come out shouting, and about twenty little kids would scatter!

He recalls that his family did celebrate Christmas as the birth of Christ, but they didn’t give presents. He remembers coming to the United States later, when he was about three or four years old. That’s when he learned about the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus.

Because he comes from a military family, it was Efrain’s desire to join the Marines. When he talked to a recruiter and told him that he wanted to be in aviation, the recruiter told him that he would first have to complete his permanent residency and he should have some college credits under his belt to pursue aviation in the military.


With assistance from Proteus, Efrain is studying to be an auto technician.

After thinking about his interests and remembering how he enjoyed working on cars with his father, Efrain decided to go to school to earn an automotive degree. He enrolled in Southeast Community College – Milford Campus and completed five quarters of the automotive program before he ran out of money. To earn money, Efrain began to work at Beatrice Ford Lincoln.

Efrain earned his permanent residency in the late summer of 2016. Shortly after, he enrolled in the National Farmworkers Job Program with the assistance of his Proteus Case Manager, Kim Parnell. Efrain learned about Proteus through a friend who referred him. He was able to quality for financial assistance because he was a seasonal farmworker doing a variety of tasks: working with cattle, harvesting corn and soybean and discing fields.

While working at Beatrice Ford Lincoln, Efrain was asked to participate in their specialized training program at Southeast Community College. The program, Ford’s Automotive Student Service Educational Training (ASSET), supports students as they earn their degree. In this seven-quarter program students attend classes one quarter and work for the dealership the following quarter. This rotation continues until they complete the 21-month program. Efrain is just completing his first quarter of the Ford ASSET program. He works at Beatrice Ford Lincoln Saturdays and alternating quarters, providing for his wife and his new baby, while getting the education he needs to make a better life for his young family.

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Degree Leads to Full-Time Employment

Anthony advances his career with help from Proteus


Susan Rabick

Susan Billups Rabick is the Nebraska Regional Director.

In Hastings, Nebraska, National Farmworker Jobs Program 29 year-old client Anthony Bolejack is doing what he wants to do with his new career in auto body technology, thanks in part to meeting Proteus Case Manager Jody Stutzman. The two met when Jody did a classroom presentation at Central Community College, Hastings, during the fall of 2015.

Prior to enrolling in the auto body program, Anthony worked for local farmers assisting with corn planting and irrigating. He also worked occasional jobs at a truck stop and as a pivot (irrigation) mechanic. All of these jobs were seasonal work with no benefits.

As a client with Proteus, Anthony was greatly relieved by the support and financial assistance made available to him. He benefited with help to cover the cost of gas for his 124-mile daily round-trip commute. Because he was in class all day making it difficult to hold a job outside the classroom, an hourly stipend  helped him meet the needs of his family which includes a fiancé and two young sons, ages 4 and 7.

Anthony Bolejack

Anthony Bolejack benefited from the support of Proteus.

Both his Case Manager Jody and his CCC instructors offered individual support to help Anthony reach his goal of being an auto body technician. When he shared that he was having difficulty getting to class on time because he had to wait for his son to be picked up by the school bus, accommodations were made to allow Anthony to make up class time and still be available for his child during the mornings.

As Anthony got closer to his May 2016 graduation date, another CCC instructor stepped forward and introduced him to a company that was looking for an individual with his skills – Matt Friend Trucking, Hastings, Nebraska. Anthony is now employed there full-time and is looking forward to his upcoming wedding on June 3, 2017.

Reflecting on his life’s journey, Anthony stated that he appreciated the assistance of Proteus and the staff of Central Community College for their support in helping him achieve his goals.

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Making a Difference

Support helps Genessa become a nurse


Caitlin Exline

Caitlin Exline is a Case Manager in Iowa City, Iowa.

Proteus client Genessa Meier was single parent and struggling to get by on the meager wages she earned working at various jobs. After hearing about Proteus, she sought more information to see if she would qualify from her vocation of three years, working at a nearby horse farm where she was responsible for cleaning out stalls and ensuring the horses were well cared for. When she discovered she would, Genessa was one step closer to obtaining her dream of becoming a nurse. A position in this field was something that appealed to her because of her likes and interests as well as an understanding that she and her family would be better off.

Genessa Meier

Genessa Meier earned her nursing degree with the help of Proteus.

The challenges she faced while working became even more difficult when she started attending school. Proteus was able to provide assistance to Genessa, increasing her chances for success. She was able to benefit from a regular stipend and mileage reimbursement, both important benefits as she had to do a good deal of traveling between home and school. Receiving these funds alleviated Genessa’s worries about making ends meet and let her focus on her classes. Along with that, there was a presence of support Genessa knew she could lean on. “Proteus staff always made sure I was doing well…and on track to graduate,” she said.

Genessa graduated June 2016 and soon found work as an RN in the emergency department. Not only does she “absolutely love (her) job” she also has great admiration for the hospital where she works. She is enjoying a life more suitable for her and her child and doing her part to ensure the lives of her patients are better, too.

She did little to hide her appreciation for the assistance received, stating, “Proteus helped me get through school and was always there if I needed anything.”

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Caring for the Community

Donation supports Proteus programs


People receiving check

A donation from University of Iowa Community Credit Union will provide shampoo and soap to farmworkers this summer.

The University of Iowa Community Credit Union (UICCU) recently gave Proteus $250 to use toward purchasing soap and shampoo for migrant farmworkers who will be arriving soon for their summer duties. As it is well known, migrants come every year bringing little with them and oftentimes leaving their families behind while they perform strenuous work in Iowa’s humidity and heat. Having soap and shampoo provided ensures they can take care of their hygiene as well as gives them time to focus on rejuvenation rather than commuting to a store to spend their limited funds during the evening hours.

Providing these provisions would not be possible without the assistance of UICCU. Involving their employees with local community efforts, this organization does a lot more than have its employees work 8:00 to 5:00. Jean Knepper, director of community relations, said her interest in Proteus’ proposal was based on the uniqueness of the request. It may have been the first time for her to hear about Proteus and the population it serves, but it won’t be the last. While the donation may seem minor, it stands as a testament to Proteus and the farmworkers’ ability to stretch resources and be grateful for any help we can get.

Countless sets of hands and heads of hair will be cleaner this summer thanks to this generous donation.

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Proteus Food Pantry Replenished

‘Souper’ event provides items for clients


Girls putting food on shelves

Donations fill the Proteus food pantry.

Did you know that 1 in 8 Iowans are food insecure? That 1 in 5 Iowa children do not have enough to eat? Oftentimes families are forced to decide between paying a bill and putting food on the table. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps those in need. To qualify for this  program an individual’s income must meet federal requirements: gross monthly limit of $1,287 or net monthly income limit of $990.

Some families don’t need monthly help; it’s simply a one-time situation. Some individuals simply do not meet the requirements for SNAP. Or, it may be an emergency-based situation. This is what Proteus had in mind when a food pantry was added to our already client-focused services. We help feed central Iowans by offering a food pantry in our Des Moines location, Monday through Wednesday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Food donations

Food and personal items receive from Lutheran Church of Hope.

Proteus is fortunate to benefit from the Lutheran Church of Hope’s annual Souper Bowl food drive when the congregation accepts donations of non-perishable food items, baby needs, personal care items and paper products. We are grateful to Lutheran Church of Hope families, friends and volunteers who collect, sort and deliver the items.

Having a full pantry for families to use in their time of need is a great feeling for us as an organization. Thank you!

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Indiana Staff Attends Latino Breakfast

Event features candid discussion on current topics


CollinsRandall 8x10

Randall Collins is the Indiana Regional Director.

Proteus staff in Indiana attended the 2017 Indiana Latino Legislative Breakfast on February 7 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The event provided an opportunity for staff to meet with elected officials, Indiana Latino leaders and members of the community.

The Indiana Latino Institute is a community partner whose mission is to “improve health and advance education for the Indiana Latino community through advocacy, research and innovative programs.” As a bi-partisan event, Proteus staff were able to able to obtain greater insight of the current legal, civic challenges and issues facing Indiana’s Latino community. Through panel discussions, Proteus staff was able to gain information and participate in meaningful and insightful interaction in several areas including employment and training, smoking cessation and possible legal complications. Candid discussions led to a greater understanding of how each community partner fits into a greater community for all Hoosiers. Furthermore, the activities and time allowed the Proteus team to interact with current partners as well as create new community connections that will support our clients and programs.

While visiting Indianapolis several members of the Indiana Proteus team met with the newest member of the Proteus Board of Directors, Kristin Hoffman, to share information and discuss the upcoming agriculture season. Learning about the challenges of the Latino community provides Indiana Proteus staff with greater understanding and appreciation of the plight of our clients. Maintaining and creating new community partners offers the Indiana Proteus team client co-enrollment opportunities, assistance for clients and continued outreach.

  Indiana AG Indiana Speaker of the house
Mayor of South Bend Team Meeting with Kristin

Photos: left to right.

1. Indiana Proteus staff and Curtis T. Hill, Jr.,Indiana Attorney General in back row.
2. Indiana Proteus staff and Brian Bosma, Speaker of the Indiana State House of Representatives, far right.
3. Indiana Proteus staff and Pete Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, second from left.
4. Indiana Proteus staff and Kristin Hoffman, Director Indiana Migrant Law Center, Chair of the IMSF Coalition and Proteus Board Member, center back.

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