November 2017 Newsletter

Categories: News


Indiana Lt. Governor Meets Proteus Clients

Desiree and Sabrina share their stories



Lt. Governor Crouch (L) met Proteus Case Manager Debra Theriac.

When Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch visited farm markets in southwest Indiana, she stopped by the McKinnley Orchard, Melon Acres and Big Peach. During her visit, Proteus Case Manager Debra Theriac had the opportunity to discuss the programs and services Proteus offers.


L to R. Sabrina Reyna, Desiree Reyna (client), Esmeralda Cavazos (client), Lt. Governor and Heather Cardinal at Big Peach.







Two of the employees working at Big Peach were Proteus clients, Desiree Reyna, and her mother, Esmeralda Cavazos. They shared their stories with the Lt. Governor and discussed the opportunities they have been given.

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Motivated For Success

Seasonal agriculture work qualifies student for services


Patrick Taggart is a Regional Director in Iowa.

Patrick Taggart is a Regional Director in Iowa.

Things were getting tough for Josh Edmundson when enrolled Indian Hills Community College, located in Ottumwa, Iowa. While he had work during the spring, summer and fall months on a row crop and beef farm, he saved all he could to pay his bills. Adding to his struggle, Josh had a young daughter needing his support. Using this as his motivation, Josh focused on graduating knowing that a more secure future lay ahead. After hearing about Proteus, Josh jumped at the chance to receive services as he pursued his education and a new career.

J. Edmundson

Josh was able to earn a degree and advance his career with help from Proteus.

The seasonal work and low wages Josh experienced, qualified him for the National Farmworkers Job Program services offered by Proteus. He was very grateful for the stipend and used the funds to provide for his daughters needs. In addition, he received money to purchase the tools he would need for class and his future position as a welder. Having these resources allowed him to use his job earnings to pay his other living expenses.

Josh’s determination and commitment to his daughter soon paid off. He graduated in May 2017 and found employment earning $22 an hour. Along with the great pay, Josh receives health care and retirement benefits, providing him with a better life for his entire family. Due to his persistent determination and a little financial help from Proteus, Josh is happy to have a career that he enjoys and permits him more time to spend with his daughter.

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Client earns Degree in Metalworking Technology

Commitment results in new career


Debbie Theriac is a Case Manager in Indiana.

In his youth, John worked with the farmers in his home town, helping with the animals and crops. After graduation, he moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, to work for the DOT America where he had received a job offer of $50,000.00 and benefits, and the opportunity for advancement. Proteus assisted John by eliminating some of the financial barriers toward his education, allowing him to earn an associates degree in metalworking technology and receive such a job offer.

With financial support and assistance from Proteus, John complete his degree and has a new career.

John’s story began when he came to Proteus about a year ago looking for support to attend school and learn about metalworking technology. With assistance from Proteus, he enrolled in the Metalworking Technology Certificate Program at Vincennes University, Indiana. This intensive one-year program is designed to prepare graduates as an entry level machinist. Emphasis is placed on processes used in manufacturing, blueprint reading, manual machining, and an introduction to CNC programming. Program graduates may receive advanced placement into the Precision Machining Technology Associate Degree program at the Vincennes main campus. While in school, John was on the dean’s list three times received all A’s and B’s while attending the university.

On September 18, 2017, he earned an associate degree in metalworking technology and a certificate in this program.

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Focused on the American Dream

In her own words: Erika shares her story


The following article was written by a Proteus client.

With a support group behind her, Erika is working her way through college and to a brighter future.

My name is Erika Garcilazo and I am a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient and a current Ivy Tech student, who was awarded a Proteus scholarship because of the work I did in a nursery. I have plenty of ambitions and dreams. I graduated from Washington High School’s medical magnet program in 2016.

I was born in La Viga, Michoacan, Mexico. I lived with my mother and two younger sisters. My father lived and worked in the U.S to be able to support his family and us. And just like any kid, they as also had dreams to further their education and help their parents as much as possible. But due to lack of resources they felt the need to drop out of school at a very young age, 11 and 12 yearrs old, to help their parents. They saw how their parents were struggling, and how food was scarce, so they knew they needed to help no matter what the consequences were.

My parents knew that our country of origin lacked resources and education and so they then decided we should risk our lives to live a better life. I was seven years old when I crossed the border and as a child. I did not know what to encounter in this journey. Many individuals are separated from their families or have even died in search of a better life. I am very fortunate to say that was not my case, but it does not mean it was an easy journey.

My journey was unpleasant, it was filled with tears, traumatizing scenes, and physical and emotional pain. After trying to cross, getting detained by immigration and sent back to the Mexican side of the border. That didn’t stop us, the dream was waiting for us so we try to cross one last time.

We finally crossed over to the U.S and have lived in Indiana since 2005. Ever since then I’ve had this goal of showing my gratitude to my parents for everything they have done for my sisters and me by attending college and pursuing a career as an ultrasound technician. I began to work where they did, in a nursery. Hoping to save enough, but it will take a long time for that to happen. There is not much money working in a nursery, college is expensive and as a DACA recipient, I am not able to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid application for financial support.

My parents do not want me to face the same problems they faced. They want more for me, they want me to be someone important in life. And I do not want financial problems to be an obstacle for me to achieve a career.

We just want to live the life our parents had in mind when they decided we should risk our lives to live the American dream.

Stay tuned to see what Erika will accomplish as she strives to live the life of the American Dream with the assistance of Proteus!

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Client Benefits from Opportunity Passport Program

Courtney invests in her future


Susan Billups Rabick is a Regional Director in Nebraska.

Susan Billups Rabick is a Regional Director in Nebraska.

Proteus Case Manager Rachel Kreikemeier received a phone call from the uncle of an 18-year-old high school student named Courtney. Because of a house fire, Courtney lost everything she owned. She was in need of clothes, transportation and other basic necessities. Although Courtney had been living with her grandparents, it was decided that she would move in with her aunt and uncle; they wanted to help Courtney get her feet on the ground and enroll at Southeast Community College in Beatrice, Nebraska.

During her initial meeting, Courtney shared that she detasseled corn in the summers. Because of that work, her case manager was able to enroll Courtney in the National Farmworkers Job Program as well as collaborate with other agencies such as the Nebraska Department of Labor WIOA Youth Program and Blue Valley Community Action’s Connected Youth Initiative Program and Opportunity Passport™. These agencies have been instrumental in assisting Courtney into college and on her way to a productive life.

The Opportunity Passport™ has three phases:

  • Phase I includes completing three pre-enrollment modules of the financial education curriculum including asset building, good credit and money management.
  • Phase II is designed to help young people become more financially capable and should be completed when it is developmentally appropriate for them; the units are not designed to be sequential.
  • Phase III will cover the asset purchase they have decided upon – like a car. Which was the situation in Courtney’s case.
Courtney Spatz November 2017 Photo

Courtney participated in the Opportunity Passport program and was able to purchase a car to help her get to school and work.

A “savings match” is a guaranteed supplement to an Opportunity Passport™ participant’s savings deposits at a specific rate. All matches are at 1:2, which means that for every dollar a participant saves, they will receive twice the amount added to their total account balance, available upon withdrawal for an approved purpose.

Participants may use the funds in the match savings account toward any of the following assets: housing down payment/rent and deposit, medical or dental insurance and costs, education/vocational training costs, vehicle, micro-enterprise activities and investments such as stocks, 401(k) funds, IRAs and CDs).

With a support system behind her, including her Proteus Case Manager Rachel, Emily Meyer from Nebraska Department of Labor, and Angela Harroun from Blue Valley Community Action, along with others, Courtney started school on Southeast Community College October 3, and is studying ag business and management. Her case manager states, “Armed with her new car, her drive, and determination, Courtney will move mountains.”

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