June 2019 Newsletter

Categories: News


Getting a Second Chance

Shane has a new outlook on life


Patrick Taggart

Patrick Taggart is a Regional Director in Iowa.

Shane Houke was in transition when he was referred to Proteus. After serving time for past mistakes, Shane was ready to get his life back on track. He had a young family to support so finding the motivation wasn’t an issue; needing help looking for a career was a different story. Having spent a fair amount of time working for a grain farmer the summer prior to his sentence, Shane sought out Proteus to see if he would qualify for the National Farmworker Jobs Program.

It didn’t take long to confirm Shane was eligible for NFJP and he received assistance in his job search. He was soon granted an interview with a truck repair shop in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. There was a requirement before an offer could be accepted however; Shane would need to provide his own tools.

Shane has a new outlook on life with a new career and ability to support his family.

Shane has a new outlook on life with a new career and ability to support his family.

Knowing he wouldn’t have the money fulfil this obligation, he was disappointed as yet another seemingly great opportunity passed him by. When his case manager found out, it was Proteus could provide these tools – giving Shane hope.

Together, Shane and his Proteus case manager, purchased nearly $500 worth of tools needed to perform his job as a welder and shop assistant. Then, he notified his new employer, Cortez Trucking, he was ready to start. Earning $13 and hour and benefits, Shane works in an atmosphere where his input is valued and he can provide support to his family.

If not for the assistance from Proteus, Shane may have spent additional time looking for work and not earning an income, something he wasn’t ready to accept.
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NFJP Offers Client a New Future

Ryan has a new career in carpentry


Kim Parnell

Kim Parnell is a Case Manager in Nebraska.

In January 2017, Ryan Pellatz enrolled in the National Farmworker Jobs Program through Proteus. With support offered by the program, he graduated from Southeast Community College, Milford campus with an associate of applied science degree in building construction in June 2017. While attending school Ryan received assistance for his mileage to get back and forth to school and received help to purchase some of the tools needed for his work.

Even before he graduated, Ryan was able to secure employment at Brester Construction in Lincoln, Nebraska. He likes the work and says Brester treats their employees very well. Ryan has received an annual raise and Christmas bonus and now he’s saving for a home.

Ryan Pellatz

Ryan Pellatz benefitted from services he received from Proteus.

Ryan says the work at Brester is interesting because he’s always doing something different. Ryan stated, “There are lots of challenges and problem solving, and I like that. I consider them challenges, not problems.”

While his title is carpenter, Ryan says it involves much more. Because Brester works with subcontractors, one of Ryan’s duties is to ensure everything is done right. He’s responsible for the home or office being worked on looks brand new when complete.

Ryan is appreciative of the services and support he received from Proteus while attending school. He has a good future with Brester Construction and plans to plans to remain with the company for the foreseeable future.

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Proteus Receives $3000 Grant

Funds will support survival bag project


Jesusa Rivera

Jesusa Rivera is a Case Manager in Indiana.

The term survival bags conjures up images in our minds. But what do we need the survival bag for? A flood, drought, storm, blizzard, fire, an earthquake? Events that happen, yet we have no control over. Desperate, confused and afraid, our minds and emotions drift to feelings of being helpless and hopeless.

Imagine a family driving hundreds of miles for work and they arrive with only the clothes on their backs. They’re hungry and tired; needing a place to rest and eat. They may have to wait two or three weeks for their first paycheck and that’s only if they can start working soon. Migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their families face these conditions each year when they arrive in the Midwest to work in the fields.

Jesusa Rivera, bilingual case manager located at Proteus in Indiana, began work on the survival bag project one year ago. With support from Proteus leadership, Jesusa combined her passion to assist farmworkers and their families with her determination and persistence. The project has gained recognition from local businesses, community partnerships and individual contributions, yet to sustain the program, funding is necessary. Proteus staff reached out to corporations and submitted grant applications to secure funding to provide the necessary items.

To support the program, Proteus received a $3,000 grant award from the Indiana Commission on Hispanic/Latino Affairs. The award funded 120 Kroger gift cards to include in the survival bags given to farmworkers and their families. The survival bags will:

  • Decrease stress and anxiety for the farmworkers
  • Make farmworkers feel welcome in Indiana knowing they have a local support system to help with their most immediate needs
  • Build trust with the farmworkers and their families so they feel comfortable accessing community resources, including the National Farmworker Jobs Program and other local services and agencies that support our farmworkers

Thanks to Notre Dame and Holy Cross students for assembling the survival bags.

And there are things in the survival bags you can’t see: Respect for the farmworkers and their long hours in the extreme heat to provide us with fresh fruit and vegetables to feed our families. Their dedication and work ethic is noticed beyond words.

We extend our gratitude to the Indiana Commission on Hispanic/Latino Affairs for awarding the grant to Proteus. And we’re especially grateful to the Diocese of Fort Wayne/South Bend Hispanic ministry for their assistance in obtaining 240 bags and the needed hygiene items: toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, bar of soap and deodorant.

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Welcome New Clinical DirectorCaroline Johnson

Caroline Johnson, FNP joins team


Caroline Johnson has joined the Proteus team as clinical director. In her role, she’ll put her varied and extensive experience and recently-earned nurse practitioner certification to work to serve Proteus clients. She’s motivated to provide high quality patient care, create efficient processes and minimize health disparities among socially disadvantaged populations. Although she’s not a native Iowan, she’s excited to be back in the Midwest after living in Austin, Texas with her family.
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Welcome Nebraska Case ManagerHeather

Heather Tjaden joins team


Heather Tjaden has joined the Nebraska team as a case manager in North Platte. Her extensive experience serving low-income individuals and conducting outreach in central and western Nebraska will be a great benefit to Proteus clients. Most recently, Heather was an in-home daycare provider.
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Welcome New Case Manager

Nick Demke joins Iowa and Nebraska teams


Nick DemkeNick Demke has joined the Proteus staff as case manager and after completing his initial training, he’ll be located at the Iowa Workforce Center in Sioux City. He’ll work with the National Farmworker Jobs Program in a region that includes Iowa and Nebraska counties.

Nick is originally from Emerson, Nebraska, giving him the advantage of serving in the region where he was raised. He graduated from Wayne State College with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a minor in sociology. Nick has held various roles at the Siouxland Community Health Center and most recently he worked on the Ryan White grant, helping HIV-positive individuals and advocating for HIV awareness.
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Welcome Nebraska Program Specialist

Diana Bueno joins team


Diana BuenoDiana Bueno has joined the Nebraska team as a program specialist and will be based in the Lincoln office. She recently graduated from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln with degrees in business and agriculture. Her education included numerous internship experiences including process development at JBS Swift, the world’s largest beef processing plant.