September 2017 Newsletter

Categories: News


Proteus Client Earns Her Degree

Ana has a new job and a new home


Jesusa Rivera is a Case Manager in Indiana.

Jesusa Rivera is a Case Manager in Indiana.

Ana Isordia, an ambitious hard working young lady and now she is a new homeowner.

When growing up, Ana’s mother was a farmworker. She always made sure Ana had what she needed. After going through a rebellious stage, Ana had to work picking tomatoes because she didn’t have a car and it was the only job she could find that provided transportation. Picking tomatoes was very hard work and she said it humbled her enough to realize that farm work was not for her.

When she first came to Proteus office she said, “I want a job that pays me a whole lot of money,” and she knew she had to attend college to make a living wage.

Because Ana is a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient, she could not receive scholarships to pay for college. To fund her education at Ivy Tech, Ana worked part-time for Indiana childcare voucher office. And Proteus provided assistance to help pay her college expenses. She graduated with a 3.4 and earned her associates degree in electrical and computer technology.


With determination and assistance from Proteus, Ana is a first-time homeowner.

After graduation, Ana found a great opportunity with Habitat for Humanity and became a first time homeowner. She gave back to the community helping build homes for other families and learning new things at the same time.

Ana has had various job offers. However, she landed what she calls the “perfect job”. At the end of July, she started working for the AEP electrical company, making “a whole lot of money”; more than she could ever have dreamed of.

Ana says being an immigrant in this country is not easy. With her eyes full of tears, she tells of the very hard jobs she has had throughout her life. She never realized how limited her opportunities were until great things started happening. She is very thankful she walked into the Proteus office and met Jesusa, a Proteus Case Manager. Without Proteus, Ana would not have made these great accomplishments. It took Ana two years to overcome her hardships and she is very excited for what the future holds.

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Grant Funds Summer Intern for Nebraska Office

Student intern, Johana, helped with summer training program

Susan Billups Rabick is a Regional Director in Nebraska.

Susan Billups Rabick is a Regional Director in Nebraska.

In the spring of 2017, Lincoln, Nebraska Case Manager Kim Parnell attended a meeting where the presenter told about an internship grant program for Nebraska non-profit organizations. Kim took the lead and wrote a grant proposal seeking funding for bilingual individuals to provide Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs health and safety training to the Spanish speaking migrant population who usually arrive in June.

In May of 2017, Proteus was awarded funding for one position and Johana Fellers was selected for the internship in Lincoln. During the interview, Case Manager Anna Santos spoke with Johana to gauge her language skills because she is not a native Spanish speaker. Anna gave her a “thumbs up” as have all of the migrant groups she has worked with. In fact, some of the younger migrant workers have asked how she learned to speak so fluently. Johana shared that prior to working for Proteus, she spent four months in Costa Rica. She was immersed in the culture, explored beaches and rainforests and “ate tons of plantains.” For fun, Johana enjoys cooking, listening to Reggaeton and Norteñas, and dancing all night long.

7-17 Group Training

Summer intern, Johana, leads a training session in Nebraska.

During her internship, she learned about case management and the Proteus data collection system. Her quick wit and intelligence has certainly been a good compliment to the Proteus office in Lincoln. Because of her experience, it is hoped that Johana will be available to assist with training programs throughout the year.

In discussing her Proteus experience, Johana said, “Interacting with the migrants (workers) this summer has been very humbling and I feel I’ve gained some useful skills by being out in the field. It’s given me more perspective on the kind of people I hope to one day surround myself with in my future career.”

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From Farmworker to Business Owner

Pablo benefits from Proteus services


Jesusa Rivera is a Case Manager in Indiana.

Jesusa Rivera is a Case Manager in Indiana.

Today, Pablo Bueno is a business owner. That was not the case in 2013 before he moved to South Bend along with his five young children. He only had $10.00 in his pocket when he arrived.

From a young age, Pablo had been doing farm work. For approximately 20 years, he picked just about every fruit and vegetable there is, and traveled from state to state, following the crops with his children by his side. He tears up just thinking about all of the hardships he and his family experienced.

Pablo visited the local WorkOne CareerOneStop to find a job, the WorkOne case manager quickly walked Pablo to the Proteus office. He set five goals for himself and completed every single one.

From getting a place to live, to taking business classes at Ivy Tech, to becoming his own boss and owning his business, Proteus was there to assist Pablo with his dreams.

From getting a place to live, to taking business classes at Ivy Tech, to becoming his own boss and owning his business, Proteus was there to assist Pablo with his dreams.

His passion is to take vehicles that are bruised and make them new again. When he first started working, in the evenings, he took on small projects and worked in his garage. Then he started business classes at Ivy Tech and realized he was already applying structure to his own small business.

Soon after, Pablo was able to leave his full-time job and work out of his garage making more money than he ever dreamed. The demand for work increased and it was time to expand. He rented a small shop and continued to grow his business.

About a year ago, Pablo moved to a new location and increased his staff to four employees. He has been doing body work, body paint and selling cars for nearly a year. His plan for the future is to hire enough workers to do the body work while he runs the shop, sells cars and works on a marketing strategy for his business.

Pablo knew there was more for him than just farm work. He is very determined to leave a legacy for his family. He doesn’t want to see them struggle as he did. Through the slow winter months, and the hardships life put in his way, he continues moving closer to accomplishing the goals he sets for himself.

Pablo’s advice to those doing farm work is this: “There is more out there and where there is a will there’s a way.” Pablo’s motivation and incentives of a better life allowed him to achieve great things not only for himself, but also his children. He is a success in the making and will only continue to move closer to the vision he had in mind the first day he walked into the Proteus office.

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Migrant Education Meetings Bring Community Partners Together

Parents learn about services


Jeanie Gorr is a Case Manager in Indiana.

Jeanie Gorr is a Case Manager in Indiana.

On August 17, 2017, the Alexandria High School in Alexandria, Indiana hosted a Indiana migrant education parent advisory council meeting (PAC). The meetings are held to help migrant parents understand the educational programs their children use in school. PAC meetings also introduce migrant farmworkers to community resources that can be utilized while they are working in Indiana for the season. Nearly 82 farmworkers attended the meeting and it was one of the largest in the east central region.


In Indiana, migrant farmworkers are invited to learn about the educational program their children use in school.

In addition to Proteus, other community partners who attended the August meeting included: Indiana Migrant Seasonal Farmworker Committee, Teaching Mentoring Communities, Indiana Legal Services, The Children’s Bureau, Department of Workforce Development, Indiana Health Clinic, Madison County Community Health Center, Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic and Marion County Government Office.

At the event, agency staff interacted with migrant workers, teaching them about services for higher education, employment, legal aid and health care concerns. Most of the workers were not aware of the available services and showed much enthusiasm to learn more and connect with the agencies. This was a joint effort to reach out to the farmworker community that proved to be rewarding for everyone involved.

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Finding the Current

Proteus client studies to be an electrician


Patrick Taggart is a Regional Director in Iowa.

Patrick Taggart is a Regional Director in Iowa.

In April 2015, Proteus received an inquiry from Connie Euans, a high school counselor. She was contacting Proteus on behalf of her student, Luis Uribe, a senior at South Winneshiek Community Schools. Luis was facing a multitude of difficulties and any and all help was needed. Luis’ parents had returned to Mexico as his father needed medical care he could not receive in the United States. This left Luis and his younger brother alone and uncertain with little options. Knowing Luis worked for an area dairy farmer, Ms. Euans reached out to Proteus for assistance.

During the intake process began, Luis shared that he routinely woke at 3:00 a.m. to work at a nearby dairy farm, went to school, attended track practice and oftentimes returned to the farm for evening chores. Added to the strenuous physical tasks of the day, Luis faced the stresses of finishing high school, enrolling in college and having no financial support or hands-on parental guidance. Fortunately for Luis, there were organizations ready and willing to provide services and support to help him as he studied to be an electrician.

Luis Uribe2

With support from Proteus, Luis has a new career as an electrician.

Eligible for Proteus services, Luis received assistance with college tuition, rent, groceries and other services so that he could focus on his studies. The working relationship between Proteus and Northeast Iowa Community College financial aid representative Mary Jean Svendsen grew as both parties collaborated to make things work for Luis. Lisa Curtin, a career advisor with Iowa Workforce Development assisted and also provided funding toward school fees. With monetary assistance and guidance from all participating agencies, Luis found out what classes to take, learned about financial literacy and had a support network who sometimes just lended an ear to listen.

Classes were difficult at times, but as shown by his past experiences, Luis was not afraid of hard work. Remaining focused and overcoming challenges, Luis graduated in May 2017. Soon after, he found work at Kline Electric as an electrician.

When asked to describe his Proteus experience, Luis summed it up saying,”They were always there for me whenever I needed them.” Finding his own strengths, Luis now understands he is capable of anything he puts his mind to and will no doubt continue to find success in the future.

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Welcome Indiana Case Manager

Dana Cowsert joins Kokomo Office Team


Dana Cowsert is a Case Manager in Indiana.

Drawing from her employment services experiences at an employment agency, as well as her community involvement, Dana will be able make those vital connections for our farmworkers who are looking to improve their futures through career pathways.

Dana comes to Proteus with well-established community connections and partnerships that she will draw upon as she works with low income farmworkers in her service region. As the west central region case manager, Dana will cover the following counties: Benton, Boone, Carroll, Cass, Clinton, Fountain, Hamilton, Hendricks, Howard, Indianapolis-Marion, Miami, Montgomery, Parke, Tippecanoe, Vermillion and Warren.

Dana has an associate’s degree in general studies and lives in Greentown, Indiana, with her family. She says that she is excited to be part of the Proteus team and looks forward to getting know everyone and working with program participants.

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Proteus Hosts Special Showing of ‘Food Chains’

Film event to be held Oct. 26


Proteus-Food-Chain-NewsletterIn this exposé, an intrepid group of Florida farmworkers battle to defeat the $4 trillion global supermarket industry through their ingenious Fair Food program, which partners with growers and retailers to improve working conditions for farm laborers in the United States.

There is more interest in food these days than ever, yet there is very little interest in the hands that pick it. Farmworkers, the foundation of our fresh food industry, are routinely abused and robbed of wages. In extreme cases they can be beaten, sexually harassed or even enslaved – all within the borders of the United States.

Food Chains reveals the human cost in our food supply and the complicity of large buyers of produce like fast food and supermarkets. Fast food is big, but supermarkets are bigger – earning $4 trillion globally. They have tremendous power over the agricultural system. Over the past 3 decades they have drained revenue from their supply chain leaving farmworkers in poverty and forced to work under subhuman conditions. Yet many take no responsibility for this.

The narrative of the film focuses on an intrepid and highly lauded group of tomato pickers from Southern Florida – the Coalition of Immokalee Workers or CIW – who are revolutionizing farm labor. Their story is one of hope and promise for the triumph of morality over corporate greed – to ensure a dignified life for farm workers and a more humane, transparent food chain.

To learn more about the film, view the trailer by clicking here.

Proteus will host a private showing of the film, ‘Food Chains,’ on October 26 at the Fleur Cinema, Des Moines, Iowa.

Tickets are $25 per person and can be purchased online.