May 2018 Newsletter

Categories: News


Client Finds Success with Welding Degree

Luis is an advocate for Proteus


Susan Billups Rabick is a Regional Director in Nebraska.

Susan Billups Rabick is a Regional Director in Nebraska.

Luis Lopez, from Norfolk, Nebraska, was recruited as a Proteus client in January, 2017 by former Proteus Case Manager, Anna Santos. When Anna moved, Maria Schinstock took over managing Luis’ journey, which will come to an end when he graduates from the welding program at Northeast Community College in Norfolk, Nebraska. With graduation near, Luis is conducting a job search with the help of Case Manager Maria. He is confident that finding a job will not be a problem as long as he is willing to travel. In Nebraska, welding is a considered an H3 job – high skill, high wage and high demand.

Louis Lopez - Welding2

Luiz recently completed his welding degree with assistance from Proteus.

Luis recently used the word “thankful” numerous times when describing his relationship with Proteus. As a DACA student from Mexico, he is not eligible for many federal financial aid programs. As a participant of the National Farmworkers Job Program, he is receiving a stipend which is calculated on how many hours he is in class. He also receives assistance with tuition, books and tools while he’s been in school for which he is grateful.

Case Manager Maria has also involved Kim Neesen, Workforce Coordinator at the Norfolk/Columbus Department of Labor offices. In partnership with NDOL, Luis’ co-enrollment benefits his training and his finances.

Luis frequently shows his gratitude for the assistance he received by being an outspoken spokesman for Proteus on the Northeast Community College campus. He frequently introduces others to his case manager in hopes that they too, might be eligible.

The Nebraska Proteus staff will be celebrating Luis’ graduation and look forward to following his career pathway.

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Internship Increases Opportunities

Norma finds a new career


Jesusa Rivera is a Case Manager in Indiana.

Opportunity was around the corner for Norma Castillo after graduating from John Adams High School in the spring of 2017. She worked hard in school and as the oldest in her family, she also spent much time caring for her seven younger brothers and sisters. That’s where she learned to cook and develop her love of cooking. “If I cook, it’s mostly for my family, we look up recipes and just make them.” During her youth, her father worked on a farm seasonally, only working when he was needed. Because of his work, one of our partner high schools referred Norma to Proteus. Sometimes moving forward seems like it takes a long time, but not for Norma.

The Proteus case manager remembers when Norma first visited the office. She was very quiet, shy and hardly spoke. Meeting on a monthly basis for case management and career counseling services, Norma began talking more openly and started putting her career goals together. Her first goal was to find work so that she could help the family. Proteus walked her through soft skills training available from the MedCerts Professional Development Series Training, an online free certification program offered by our community partner MedCerts. Once completed, Norma could add this accomplishment to her resume.


After completing an internship, Norma is now attending job fairs to find a career.

Her Proteus case manager also partnered with the local WorkOne office and co-enrolled her in services. Together the two organizations created an internship for Norma for her to gain and build on her job training skills. WorkOne’s Youth Intern Program began with training and focused on soft skills where Norma was responsible for research, inventory, translation and document management. She excelled at all levels in her program and has begun focusing on full-time employment. With her talents and work ethic her journey will be exciting and rewarding.

These small steps and goals are so very important for anyone who is entering the workforce for the first time. Norma, who is working to meet these goals, was recently involved in mock interviews, where she submitted 10 resumes, spoke with employers and began building relationships that, even Norma would say, are important in getting ahead.

Proteus is so proud at what Norma has accomplished. One quote that sums up Norma’s experience is by E. W. Wilcox, “Life is not about finding yourself, but creating yourself.” With skills she has learned and the completion of the internship program, Norma is now finding her own place in the workplace.

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Support from Proteus Provides Direction

Corbin finds a new career


Patrick Taggart is a Regional Director in Iowa.

Patrick Taggart is a Regional Director in Iowa.

Corbin Link was at a crossroads in his life. His primary source of income was working for a local grain farmer where he tended to his crops. Working only during the growing season kept Corbin busy, but the winter was a challenge as he struggled to keep his bills paid. Maintaining his commitment to the farmer who employed him, Corbin worked part-time delivering pizzas to make up for unworked hours in the off season. Constantly trying to stay ahead of the cost of living, Corbin knew a change was needed.

With assistance from Proteus, Corbin has a new career in welding.

With assistance from Proteus, Corbin has a new career in welding.

He looked into Southeastern Community College in Burlington, Iowa, to see what they offered. He found a welding program in which he would be certified in six short weeks. Intrigued by this idea, Corbin was faced with another dilemma; paying for the course. Fortunately, the financial aid advisor knew of Proteus and quickly referred him. Based on his seasonal farmwork and income, Corbin was approved for Proteus services and enrolled in the welding class.

With his tuition taken care of Corbin was able to attend classes and focus on finding a job upon completion. Proteus was able to assist and offered him a number of job leads most suited to his interests. Corbin received his welding certificate in June of 2017 and promptly found a position in this field where he remains employed. Earning a steady income with year round work has provided Corbin an improved life where he enjoys going to work every day.

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Assistance Helped Chris Start a New Career

Proteus provides assistance to attend classes


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

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

At Proteus, we spend a great deal of time assisting clients in earning their degrees. While this is typically a successful path, enrolling in a 2-year program is not for everyone. Such was the case for Chris. He stopped in the Proteus office in Fort Dodge, Iowa, because he had heard of the assistance that Proteus can provide for those who have worked in agriculture. Chris had spent some time working seasonally for a farmer helping with harvesting, but was still struggling to make ends meet. His bills were starting to add up, including his rent and child support payments. With these expenses, it makes finding the right job to make ends meet a difficult task. Chris chose to look for full-time employment right away instead of enrolling in a program that would take a long time to complete.

Proteus Ends Job Search for Client

Assistance from Proteus helped Chris earn his degree and start a new career.

After enrolling in the National Farmworker Jobs Program, Chris was able to meet regularly with his Proteus Case Manager Rachael Roper. She was able to assist with job his search by looking for careers that he would qualify for. During this time, Chris was invited to several interviews in surrounding communities and Proteus was able to assist him with gas expenses so that he could travel to the interviews. Since he was not working, Proteus also assisted him with a car repair and a payment for his rent. This support helped him to ease the burden of these large bills so he could focus on finding employment. Chris was also able to receive Rent Smart Training to teach him how to budget and plan for the unexpected while renting a home or apartment.

After spending just eight months enrolled in the program, Chris started working for Vannguard Utility Partners, Inc. Starting in a full-time position, he is earning $14.00 per hour plus benefits as a utility locator. In this role, Chris has found a career that is a mental challenge as well as physically demanding. Since he has begun his new career, Chris has been granted full custody of his son and is off to a much brighter future because of the help he received from Proteus.

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Welcome Iowa Case Manager

Marisol Saldaña-Leza joins Des Moines team


Alison Mahoney-Doran is Regional Director in Iowa.

Alison Mahoney-Doran is a Regional Director in Iowa.

Marisol Saldaña-Leza was born and raised in the borderlands of south McAllen, Texas, and is a first generation college graduate. She has a Master of Science degree in social work with a concentration in administration and community practice from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. She brings the experience of having been a Proteus health care client as a child and a client of the National Farmworkers Job Program as an adult. Her involvement in these programs led her to her new position of bilingual case manager with Proteus.

Having been raised in a farmworker family, education was something Marisol struggled to continue, but with the unconditional support and strength from her parents, Sanjuanita and Everardo Saldaña – lifelong activists and migrant farmworkers, she has been able to achieve self-sufficiency. She credits her children for garnering motivation: Medardo, Sophia and Anastacia. With their help, she was able to attain her educational goals.

Marisol is aware of the sacrifices, experiences and barriers all seasonal and migrant farmworkers face to climb out of poverty. After dropping out of high school, Proteus helped her attain her GED in 1998. And a few years later, she remembers that Proteus Case Worker, Jennifer Thiemann challenged her to think about higher education. With Jenn’s insistence, guidance and encouragement, Marisol was able to enroll in Des Moines Area Community College – Boone Campus. This small act by her caseworker and with Proteus providing the necessary financial resources, Marisol was able to kickstart her journey into full gear.

Des Moines - Marisol (1)

Marisol was surrounded by her family when she graduated from college.

Marisol Saldaña-Leza is the granddaughter of Baltazar Saldaña, a great leader, farmworker and community activist who was involved with the Chicano and Farmworker movement in Texas and California. He worked side by side with other humble, yet fierce, farmworker families, Dolores Huerta and Cesar E. Chavez. He taught his ten children and all his grandchildren the importance of fighting for dignity and respect. Marisol remembers going to union meetings with her family and her uncle and has heard the inspirational stories of struggle and gains from her aunts, and her father. Her mother was also a leader in the movement and a strong female role model. She has always cultivated motivation by reminding Marisol that she can finish anything she sets out to accomplish, but always reminding her to never forget her roots. Marisol is grateful for her family’s legacy and is proud to be working with one of the most important farmworker organizations in history – Proteus!

Her background experience includes working with McAllen Independent School District’s Migrant Education Program, a career counselor and most recently as a social worker for the State of Iowa Department of Health and Human Services. She is grateful for the opportunities and the relationships she has formed throughout her journey and is looking forward to bringing her story with her as a Proteus case manager so that she can inspire, encourage and motivate others to serve all Proteus clients and empower them to consider educational, vocational or technical training assistance.

Si Se Puede!!

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