April 2019 Newsletter

Categories: News


Proteus Hosts Farmworker Recognition Breakfast

Event held during National Farmworkers Awareness Week


Jesusa Rivera

Jesusa Rivera is a Case Manager in Indiana.

People take many things for granted, especially those things and events that occur daily: clean drinking water, lights when it gets dark, heat when it’s cold, soap for personal hygiene and to clean clothes, and the fruits and vegetables that we eat.

To commemorate National Farmworkers Awareness Week, Proteus staff in Indiana hosted a farmworker recognition breakfast on March 29. The event was sponsored by Four Winds Casino, South Bend. Scott Brewer, senior vice president of government affairs and community relations, and security with the Pokagon Band and Four Winds Casino, opened the program, honoring farmers, farmworkers and their families and raising awareness of the contributions farmworkers make to our daily lives.

Program presenters:

  • Pablo Bueno, Jr. discussed his journey from working in many Florida cities and finally landing in South Bend. He participated in the programs offered by Proteus and now as owner of his own business, Pilo’s Auto Body Repair, he gives back to his farmworker community by hiring farmworkers.
  • Diana Moya spoke about her grandfather who never took a handout and worked hard for what they had. They moved around frequently, to California then back to Indiana. Diana said she was a farmworker because that’s all she knew. Diana is now part of the South Bend Human Rights Commission – and giving back to her community.
  • Kristin Hoffman, director of The Indiana Migrant Farmworker Law Center and Proteus Board of Directors, shared statistics about the work Proteus does in Indiana.
  • Randall Collins, Indiana Regional Director and Jesusa Rivera, Bilingual Case Manager, both with Proteus, presented certificates and gift cards to the NFJP participants.
  • The program was informative and recognized the daily work performed by the farmers, farmworkers and their families. The feedback from the attendees showed that they have different perspective on the intense work being done and the working conditions experienced during the five months they migrate to Indiana.
2019 Farmworker Recog. Bfast

Many farmworkers were recognized at the breakfast event held in Indiana during National Farmworker Awareness Week.

Several farmworkers were a little emotional when they were asked to stand to be recognized while everyone applauded. One farmworker said, he didn’t think people cared about farmworkers.

Proteus is passionate about helping improve the quality of life for farmworkers and their families. Next time we sit down to eat, give thanks to those who pick and harvest the food we eat – our farmworkers.

Donations of toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap and deodorant and shampoos were collected to fill 240 survival bags for workers. In addition, the following organizations and individuals helped raise over $5,000 in donations and charitable contributions.

  • Four Winds Casino, South Bend
  • University of Notre Dame
  • St. Vincent De Paul, South Bend
  • Ms. Rebecca Kubacki
  • Hispanic Ministry in the Diocese of Fort Wayne, Indiana –
  • South Bend donating items for the Survival Bags
  • Mr. & Mrs. Jimmy Gurule
  • Holiday Inn & Suites – Mishawaka, Indiana
  • Strike & Spares
  • Paula Sours, Visions GPS Branding LLC
  • WorkOne South Bend

Thank you to everyone who participated in the event.

back to top


AFOP Children in the Fields Campaign

Youth education presented in Indiana


Jeanie Gorr

Jeanie Gorr is a Case Manager in Indiana.

Each year children of farmworkers are moved from one state to another in a never-ending cycle with their families who toil in the fields planting or harvesting crops. Many children escape the risks that face them while working alongside their family members.

During the summer many migrant children are often at risk to chemical exposure by playing in puddles of chemical runoff, coming into contact with chemical containers or through irrigation sprinkler systems used to treat crops.

According to Juliana Simmons of the Migrant Clinicians Network, “Agriculture-related incidents claim a child’s life every three days in the United States and injure 33 more daily.” To ensure the safety of adolescents, agencies have set into place precautionary measures.

Jeanie with Children WPS Trainings Marion 2019

Youth attending the migrant education meeting hear the story of Jose to learn about pesticide use and the risk of exposure.

In 1997, the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs began the Children in the Fields Campaign to educate farmworker children to the dangers of being exposed to chemicals and other hazards. Through education of the children and their families, workplace accidents can be prevented.

Proteus Case Manager Jeanie Gorr lent a hand by telling the interactive curriculum “Jose Learns about Pesticides” at a migrant education meeting. Lots of smiles and a few giggles abounded when case manager added imaginative narration to the characters of the story which helped to lead the children to ask questions about pesticides and prevention.

back to top


Meeting the Challenge

New career supports new family


Abagail Wells

Abagail Wells is a Case Manager in Iowa.

CJ Collett was on the path to making his life better. Enrolled in a welding course at Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, Iowa, he was pursuing a career in this field. Splitting time between classes and work was taking its toll. CJ was excited to hear a Proteus representative tell about the opportunities provided by the National Farmworker Jobs Program. When not attending school, CJ was working on a hog farm earning $10 an hour. He knew he would benefit from any aid provided.

Admitted into NFJP, CJ soon realized the positive impact of working with a case manager. As life happens, plans can change. Upon the news that his fiancé was pregnant, CJ accepted a job at Iowa Aluminum and discontinued the welding classes. While the income was nice, making $13 per hour, financial struggles continued. When things got difficult, Proteus was there to help CJ get on his feet. Having his rent covered provided him the him the stability to continue work.

CJ Collett

CJ enjoys the work he does and is proud to be a provide for his family.

Eventually, CJ realized he would need more than his current position provided and he sought a different career path. With help from his case manager, he was hired at Bridge City Construction. Here, his pay increased to $15.75 an hour and benefits are provided, helping him support his family.

CJ enjoys the work he does and is proud to be a provider. Receiving help from Proteus helped to ensure his transition from a life of scraping by to setting an example for his children to follow.

back to top


Overcoming Obstacles

Corey reaches his goal


Matt Winkel

Matt Winkel is a Regional Director in Iowa.

As a client of the National Farmworker Jobs Program there is not a one size fits all approach to finding a new career. Individual plans can suddenly change and need to be adjusted. Such is the case with Corey Withers. He met Proteus Case Manager Melissa Rude while enrolled at Iowa Lakes Community College in Emmetsburg, Iowa. At the time he was enrolled in the marine service technician program. Like many students he had unforeseen circumstances occur which led to him taking some time off to go to work. Melissa was with him each step of the way to help him decide his best path forward.

Corey Withers

Corey is appreciative of the support he received and stays in touch with his case manager.

Corey used this time to work a series of seasonal and temporary jobs on farms and in construction to find out what career would be best for him to pursue. He encountered some trouble with paying for housing and having enough gas to fill his tank to get to work. When these situations occurred, Melissa was there to offer assistance from Proteus. He was always appreciative of the support that he received and would stay in touch with his case manager.

After being enrolled in the program for a year Corey was able to begin working full-time in production at Smart Sand in Wisconsin. He soon learned that working in a production facility was not what he wanted to be doing for a long term career. He is now working full-time in construction for Walters Building making a wage that allows him to support himself. When asked about his experience working with Proteus he said, “There are a lot of benefits to enrolling and they are really easy to work with.”

back to top


Migrant Education and Community Partners

Offering support to working farmworker hands


Jeanie Gorr

Jeanie Gorr is a Case Manager in Indiana.

Each year Indiana’s community partners help direct and support thousands of farmworkers in the agriculture and forestry industry. A network of assistance to encourage a working class population that continually endures impoverished living conditions so they can continue to help feed the rest of the world. Often farmworkers can face many types of discrimination that can lead to future discouraging situations.

2019 Migrant Ed Meeting photo

Migrant education throughout the year hosts parent meetings to help connect families to community resources.

Migrant education throughout the year hosts parent meetings to help connect families to community resources. Region 3 migrant education hosted a meeting with Proteus, Indiana Department of Workforce Development and Indiana Legal Services to share the necessary materials to help shape their lives. Indiana Legal Services presented information on the importance of filing income taxes and how the Earned Income Tax Credit works. Many agricultural workers fall victim to tax service providers who prepare taxes and cause the workers to unsuspectingly commit fraudulent behavior.

Community partners also work together when emergency supplies of groceries and clothing are needed. Expertise in meeting the needs of low income families takes knowledge and sponsorship, while meeting the needs of seasonal and migrant farmworkers acquires flexibility to address each unique situation.

back to top


Continuing Community Assistance

Preparing clients for home ownership


Patrick Taggart

Patrick Taggart is a Regional Director in Iowa.

Every year Proteus case managers meet with their clients and conduct a training that better prepares them for their future as a renter or homeowner. With funds provided from UMOS, these educational experiences provide valuable insight on how the individual can ensure they are conducting themselves appropriately as a renter, are being treated fairly and provides recommendations on how to efficiently find a dwelling to rent. Along with this information, is guidance on understanding one’s credit score as well as how to effectively improve one’s score for future home purchases.

For Rent SignThe home owners portion of program consists of advice on money management, predatory lending, prohibited housing practices as well as lending and mortgage questions. The instructions are valuable and the provided resources help clients to further their self sufficient success. Education on how to properly conduct oneself as a renter and the steps taken toward homeownership is just another example of how Proteus assists in breaking our clients out of the poverty cycle.

back to top


Welcome Indiana Case Manager

Laurie Cornette joins team


Laurie Cornette photo

Laurie Cornette is a Case Manager in Indiana.

Proteus welcomes Laurie Cornette to the Vincennes, Indiana office. Laurie attended the University of Southern Indiana and majored in education. She previously worked in the sales and customer service field.

Laurie’s compassion and desire to help others prompted her to make a career change to the social services field. She spent the last four years working as an advocate for victims of domestic violence and working with youth in underserved communities.

back to top