March 2018 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 2018 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!

Saturday March 24 | 13 Hours each day without resting
Sunday March 25 | You work even harder
Monday March 26 | Life
Tuesday March 27 | I’m one more person
Wednesday March 28 | I’m away from my family
Thursday March 29 | There are many benefits and many sacrifices
Friday March 30 | Sun up to sun down
Saturday March 31 | Push ahead

back to top


Collaboration Benefits Clients

Bilingual safety training offered


Susan Billups Rabick is a Regional Director in Nebraska.

Susan Billups Rabick is a Regional Director in Nebraska.

In April 2017, Nebraska Proteus staff received a call from Daniels Produce in Monroe, Nebraska, asking for ergonomics training to reduce back pain and injury for their workers who were straining their backs when lifting boxes of produce. Because this training was not in the Proteus “toolkit” of health and safety training options, Regional Director Susan Rabick reached out to Dr. Athena K. Ramos at the University of Nebraska Medical Center to ask if she could develop a bilingual English-Spanish training specifically on this topic. She was able to provide this service.

UNMC - Dr. Athena Ramos

Athena K. Ramos, Community Health Program Manager, University of Nebraska Medical Center, developed a bilingual safety program offered by Proteus.

Since that time, Dr. Ramos and her team have presented this training several times for Proteus, and were recently given the opportunity to showcase their work as a poster presentation at the Agricultural Safety and Health Council of America North American Agricultural Safety Summit.

Agricultural safety is a large challenge among the migrant and seasonal farmworker population. Proteus is grateful to have the opportunity to work with Dr. Ramos and her colleagues at the UNMC’s Center for Reducing Health Disparities. Being able to solve the immediate needs of both the farmworker and their employers has been a demonstration of how willing partners can be to accomplish a need. This issue and resulting solutions have been offered on a national level – all thanks to an employer who reached out to Proteus.

back to top


Driving Through the Barriers

Kyle earns his degree


Patrick Taggart is a Regional Director in Iowa.

Patrick Taggart is a Regional Director in Iowa.

Kyle Sanders was enjoying his time in school. He was enrolled at Indian Hills Community College in the diesel technology program as he had always enjoyed working on and with heavy machinery. The challenges he faced were not limited to the classes he was taking, but more so making ends meet while committing his time to the classroom. He found an answer to this dilemma after hearing what Proteus had to offer.

Having worked for a number of years seasonally on a hog and grain farm, Kyle’s interest in applying to the National Farmworkers Job Program eased the burdens he faced while continuing his education. Receiving a stipend as well as gas money, Kyle was able to focus all his energy on studying the course material. Assistance provided by Proteus allowed him to spend the time needed in the diesel technology shop.


Kyle Sanders
With support from Proteus, Kyle received an education and has a new career.

When it came time to find a job, Kyle was overjoyed to learn Proteus could assist there as well. A strong resume is crucial in standing out amongst other candidates and with help from his case manager, his work and class experience were detailed. Kyle’s work ethic and professional resume aided him in securing a position at Winn Corp. where he drives diesel trucks, works year-round and earns a great income.

Kyle is very happy with his new position and the life he is able to live. Having the drive to succeed can often be hampered by financial barriers. With help from Proteus, Kyle was able to overcome these hurdles and find a career that suits his interests and wage expectations.

back to top


Proteus Food Pantry Supports Clients

Thanks to Cintas and Lutheran Church of Hope


Alison Mahoney-Doran is Regional Director in Iowa.

Alison Mahoney-Doran is a Regional Director in Iowa.

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, an individual must meet federal requirements.

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

Food Delivery

Proteus staff receives a food pantry donation from the Lutheran Church of Hope and Alex from Cintas, center, was there to lend a hand.

Proteus was fortunate to benefit from the Lutheran Church of Hope’s annual Souper Bowl Food Drive. For this event, the congregation accepts donations of non-perishable food items, baby needs, personal care items and paper products. The items are then delivered to local agencies for distribution.

This year’s delivery to Proteus occurred on a day when many staff were out of the office at partner meetings or clinics. Fortunately, Alex from Cintas was on site. Although he was on a very tight delivery schedule, he asked how he could help.

The annual donation makes a huge difference for Proteus clients and helps us extend our services with no impact on the budget. Thank you, Cintas and Lutheran Church of Hope, for helping us offer a food pantry to those in need.

back to top


Clients Earns Commercial Drivers License

Education provides new career


Matt Winkel is a Regional Director in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

Matt Winkel is a Regional Director in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

After working seasonally for the last few years, Ryan Blumberg knew that he was ready to make a change. Not only did he have to care for himself, he was now trying to support his fiancé and three-month-old daughter. He had been working seasonally for several farmers helping to care for hogs as well as trying to work part time at a local casino. Even with all this work, he was barely able to get by. Over time he was able to gain some experience driving truck, and knew that was a career he would enjoy. After much thought, he made the decision to enroll at Iowa Central Community College in the transportation technology program.

Even though Ryan was eligible for financial aid, he knew it would still be a struggle to finish the 11 week training program. While he had been able to work part-time before, he would now be in class full-time. This would cause some added stress on his newly formed family. After hearing that he could potentially receive some assistance with his school expenses, he got in touch with Proteus Case Manager Rachael to start the intake process.

Working with Proteus, Ryan attended and school, earned his degree and how has a career to support his family.

Working with Proteus, Ryan attended school, earned his degree and how has a career to support his family.

With the help of Proteus, Ryan was able to take advantage of the stipend offered for his time in class. While in school he was beginning to fall behind on some of his other bills. Proteus was able to assist Ryan with his rent payment and car repair so that he could focus on completing his training. At one point he ran out of gas after class and his case manager picked him up and got him back on the road.

After working and studying hard, Ryan earned his commercial drivers license. He began driving for Arcadia Limestone starting at $16.00 an hour, plus benefits. He is able to work full-time and have a regular schedule that he can count on. After dealing with many struggles for some time, he can now support his family in a career he loves.

back to top


Leaving His Homeland in Search of a New Life

In his own words: Kevin tells his story


Jesusa Rivera is a Case Manager in Indiana.

Jesusa Rivera is a Case Manager in Indiana.

“I am from Caracas, Venezuela. I had to get out of my country. We had so many problems there, from people following my dad and stalking him, threatening him for no reason at all. We felt we were not secure any more. So much violence, I could not imagine why there was so much. Even to come in here, there was huge obstacles we had to overcome.
When we arrived it was kind of hard since we did not know many people here.We had a family member here, but she wasn’t that much help. We still had to figure it out by ourselves and to like figure out what we had to do. Where would we live, how can we get clothes, where will our next meal come from. We did not have much money, we tried to settle and look for a way to get some work, get some income and ways to survive here. My parents found work, working in the tomato. They would work long hours, and the pay was not that great. It did help us get food and a place to live, with some friends that we met. They let us stay with them in an apartments, over 8 in one small apartment.
We knew we had to go to start school to start learning the language of the land and adapting to people’s here, that is when I met Mr. Rivera. I was almost starting my senior year.
He would tell me about going to college and if I was interested in getting an education and attending college. I was later introduced to the fire chief. I knew I had to graduate then move on to college. I just didn’t know how I would pay for it.
I thought, how could I get into school and get a degree so I could get qualified for a fire fighter?
My parents were working in the fields, and one of my family member talked to us about a program that could help with education at Ivy Tech for farmworkers. My parents made an appointment and met Ms. Rivera, we filled out lots of paperwork and a few weeks later, I was accepted into the Proteus program.


Kevin puts on his fire-fighting equipment before participating in a training session.

I began college, it was hard because of the language and getting use to the people and how fast people move around. So, slowly I got the flow of the system and began organizing myself. My classes became easier. During the summer, I applied to several fire departments, many requirements. One of the fire departments asked if I would be interested in joining their team. I applied with them and began training. I would need 6 weeks of training before I could take my next step and apply direct with their fire department.
Then we got the news that the DACA was in jeopardy. It changed the way the fire department viewed my longevity with them. I was in limbo.
What would that mean for my training and school? My parents had already filed for asylum, we were on temporary asylum. It was just a matter of time before we would have our more permanent documents.
I ended up getting a job, my own job when my final paperwork came in.
I am still applying for the fire department and taking a summer EMT program to help get more qualifications for the fire department. I am not giving up.
Not that many people give you that much help. It is beneficial. Pretty grateful for Proteus.”

Kevin has since then re-applied with the fire department; Proteus will be by his side each step of the way!

back to top