January 2019 Newsletter

Categories: News


Indiana Teams Up with MESA

Efforts support farmworkers


Randall Collins

Randall Collins is a Regional Director in Indiana.

Multicultural Efforts to End Sexual Assault, known as MESA, is a statewide program committed to preventing sexual violence in multicultural communities and other underserved and underrepresented populations in Indiana. MESA has been providing sexual violence prevention education to migrant and seasonal farmworkers since 2003.

MESA is a social change program with an emphasis on education, providing communities and organizations with culturally-relevant tools and knowledge to prevent sexual violence and promote healthy relationships. MESA is a member of the Indiana Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker Coalition and a premier community partner with the Proteus in Indiana.

In its goals, MESA:

  • focuses on organizing, engaging and mobilizing communities in an effort to create positive social change which will lead to healthier relationships, families and communities.
  • promotes safe environments within communities, families, and populations through outreach, advocacy, leadership development, and training,
  • works to build a society free of sexual violence by engaging all members of the community in the responsibility for preventing sexual violence.
  • serves diverse communities varying in race, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, age, religion, languages spoken, disability, and immigration status.
  • recognizes how oppression relates to sexual violence and seeks to empower traditionally marginalized groups of women and communities.
  • strives to create a voice for those who might not be heard otherwise.

Outreach efforts include the following communities: migrant and seasonal farmworkers, Latino/Hispanic, immigrant populations, Native American/Indigenous people, Asian/Pacific Islander, LGBTQ and people with disabilities.


Migrant farmworker outreach initiative program. Through collaborative efforts with farmworker service organizations, MESA has helped create two fotonovelas focused on preventing sexual violence in farmworker communities. In addition, MESA has participated in the creation of a manual for service providers who work with the farmworker community. Resources and technical assistance are provided to state and local organizations developing comprehensive sexual violence prevention strategies. MESA provides direct sexual violence prevention education services to migrant farmworkers using a popular education, arts-based approach. Farmworkers and farmworker service providers engage in a series of arts and theater-based activities designed to facilitate dialogue around sexual violence prevention.

Farmworker donations. Donations are accepted for distribution during the migrant season in the spring and summer months. Items that are collected and distributed include food, clothing, household and school supplies. Volunteers from all over the U.S. help sort the donations. Once sorted, MESA staff travel to various farmworker camps to distribute goods to workers and their families.

Annual multicultural gathering and staff training event. Proteus staff attended the 15th annual event in November. Held annually since 2001, this one-day intensive training focuses on developing strategies for sexual violence prevention in underserved and underrepresented communities. Using a grassroots approach, the annual event is designed to give voice to the needs of people who have been traditionally marginalized and who may identify as African-American/Black, Asian, Indigenous, Latina/Latino/Hispanic, LGBTQ, Muslim, Tribal, and/or people with disabilities.

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Close to Home

Relief from pain provides access to full-time employment


Patrick Taggart

Patrick Taggart is a Regional Director in Iowa.

Working seasonally on a dairy farm in rural northeast Iowa, Marlén Torres had few options to ease the ongoing pain in her jaw. At times the ache was so excruciating, she was forced to miss work; something that’s not easy to do as a single mother. Finally, after several months of enduring the pain, she sought assistance.

Marlen Torres

Marlen received dental care allowing her to resume a regular work schedule to support her family.

Not having dental insurance or the funds to afford a dental visit, Marlén reached out to a community organization. Knowing options were limited, the migrant education representative immediately contacted Proteus who was able to secure services at a free dental clinic where x-rays showed that Marlén needed oral surgery. With that information, Proteus was able to schedule an appointment at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry, a long-time partner and Marlén was able to receive the care she needed. Since her surgery, Marlén has not missed any work due to health reasons and she enjoys a pain-free life.

Supporting her family with limited funds, Marlén was relieved when the bill for her surgery was paid in full by Proteus. Following her procedure, Marlén was overwhelmed with gratitude saying, “Proteus really did help me a lot. I was in so much pain and now I feel much better.”

Expanding on her appreciation, Marlén refers her family and friends to Proteus for medical services, allowing for more stories like hers to occur across Iowa.

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Client Overcomes Personal History

Continued support helps Dalton find a new a career


Kim Parnell

Kim Parnell is a Case Manager in Nebraska

After working on an assembly line for some time, Dalton knew he wanted more for himself. He grew up on a farm, and continued to work there when needed, but wanted more for himself than factory work or being a part-time farmhand.

Dalton found the energy generation program at Southeast Community College located at Milford, Nebraska. After talking to the program chair, he knew the program was what he was looking for. The thought of going back to school at age 24 was somewhat daunting, but one of Dalton’s strengths is his persistence in going after what he wants.

Dalton started at SCC, but was struggling financially. He had never been in debt before, but within three months of going to school and working at the same time, he had depleted his entire savings. Dalton started paying attention when Proteus Case Manager Kim Parnell did classroom presentations at SCC and wondered if he would qualify for the National Farmworkers Job Program.

Dalton Blythe

With an education under his belt, Dalton overcame employment challenges and has a new career.

Once he was accepted into NFJP, Proteus was able to help Dalton make it through school and graduate with an associate of applied science degree. Then came time to find a job. With the necessary skills, Dalton was ready to begin, but previous poor life choices haunted him when background checks were conducted for employment.

After graduation Dalton returned to work for a lawn care company to support his family, including a child on the way. He applied for and interviewed with several companies, but was turned down when his background check came back. During this time, Dalton continued to stay in touch with his Proteus Case Manager. She reminded him that he was capable and that he would get a chance if he just kept trying. Dalton used his persistence and determination to continue his search and take proactive steps to prove he would be a good employee.

Because of his persistence, and support from Proteus, Dalton is now using his education as a technician at an anhydrous ammonia production plant. He is very grateful for the financial assistance and encouragement he received from Proteus and refers other so they can benefit from Proteus’ assistance.

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Journey Leads to Degree

Becky earns her high school diploma


Jesusa Rivera

Jesusa Rivera is a Case Manager in Indiana.

After a long journey, filled with many struggles, Becky Oviedo is excited about graduating from Penn High School. She and her family have been working in the blueberry fields for many years. Her father for 20 years, mother for 19 years, and Becky started when she was only 13. In the beginning, she remembers being very tired because the hours were 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Over time, Becky has became used to the hard work and long hours.

Becky Oviedo (2)

Becky’s journey ends with her driver’s license.

Each year, her family would travel from Mexico to Indiana before the harvest which, in most years, can begin as early as March and last through September. Once the season is done, they returned to Mexico. Once there, Becky and her family enjoyed their time being close to family, relatives and friends. However, they also enjoyed their time “up north” and meeting new people. Yet, there were challenges. The difference in customs was difficult to learn and communicating in a different language was tough. And with traveling, it was difficult for Becky to keep up with school.

Several years ago, Becky met Jesusa Rivera, Proteus Bilingual Case Manager. Becky explained that her main goal was to graduate from high school. And she did! In June, Becky graduated from high school, which was a huge accomplishment. With her case manager by her side, she picked up her diploma and now, she is considering her next steps. Unlike most years, Becky stayed in the states when her parents returned to Mexico. For the first time she is on her own and waiting for their arrival in the spring.

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Couple Finds New Careers

NFJP supports spouses and dependents of farmworkers


Matt Winkel

Matt Winkel is a Regional Director in Iowa.

After much thought and consideration, Corey Cox and his wife, Brooke, make the decision to move to Sheldon, Iowa, where Corey could pursue a degree in powerline technology. He enrolled in classes at Northwest Iowa Community College while Brooke studied for the nursing boards. Their plan was for Brooke to complete her studies and start her career while Corey completed his degree.

When Corey attended a campus orientation session, he heard Proteus Case Manager Melissa Rude discuss the benefits provided through the National Farmworker Jobs Program. While living in Illinois Corey had been seasonally employed, working with livestock and tending to the fields. He appreciated the hard work and enjoyed being able to work outside, but he knew he would need to earn a more stable income in order to get by. His work experience made him a good candidate for the NFJP.

Knowing that times would be tough while both were studying for their degrees, Corey contacted Melissa to begin the process of determining if he would be eligible for NFJP. In addition to the services Corey would receive, another benefit of the program is that spouses and dependents are also eligible for the program. Since Brooke still needed to complete her testing and was seeking employment, Melissa was able to enroll them both into the program.

Cory-Brooke Cox

When Corey enrolled in the National Farmworker Jobs Program, his wife was able to enroll as well. They both benefitted from the program while attending school and seeking employment.

Within a few months Brooke was able to complete her studies, become board certified and begin working for a clinic in Sioux City. Corey graduated from school and earned his degree in powerline technology.

“Proteus helped my husband get through college. It lessened the financial burden that we had and, in turn, lessened the stress we felt. It allowed my husband to focus more on school rather than working to make ends meet,” said Brooke.

Following graduation, Brooke and Corey made the move back to Illinois to be closer to home. Brooke works as a nurse in Muscatine Iowa, while Corey works for a construction firm. He is still seeking an electrical position, but is glad that he can rely on a steady income.

They are both very grateful for the assistance that they were able to receive from Proteus.

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Proteus is Hiring

Professional and summer positions open


Proteus Spring campaign newsletterApplications are being accepted for two case manager positions located in Indiana. Our case managers recruit qualifying individuals for the National Farmworker Jobs Program and assists program participants in achieving their educational and career goals along their career pathway toward self-sufficiency.

Summer will soon be here and we are seeking applicants to work in our summer health clinics. Summer health aides assist our medical providers in a variety of areas that include, but are not limited to: gathering and recording health information, exams, treatments, referrals and patient communications.

For more information and instructions on how to apply, go to our website.

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