Illinois Migrant Council | Serving Illinois Farmworkers

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The personal outcomes that individuals can achieve with just a little support are remarkable as shown by these success stories.


Learn about Juan

Juan worked seasonally planting and packing vegetables and loading grain during the harvest season. Without a higher level of English language proficiency, he found it difficult to find steady work and a regular income to support his family. After enrolling in the National Farmworker Jobs Program and receiving assessment and employability counseling, he was very interested in a technical field as a potential career. Although language remained a barrier, Juan decided to try training at the Midwest Technical Institute to become an HVAC Technician.

Because Juan was so determined and hardworking and had already overcome many obstacles in life, IMC staff strongly supported his choice. While Juan gave training his best effort, his level of English language skills and lack of a technical background hindered his class work. Even so, with IMC staff encouragement and coaching during his studies, Juan was able to complete the first module of training. Although the Institute recommended he end training because of his barriers, IMC staff viewed Juan’s completing the module as a personal accomplishment for him.

IMC staff promoted Juan’s first attempt in training as an opportunity for learning and guided him to another career pathway. While discouraged, Juan did want to try training for another career. He was interested in obtaining an Illinois Certified Driver’s Licenses (CDL). IMC staff co-enrolled Juan with the Illinois workNet Center (One Stop Career Center) in Kewanee, and he began CDL Training at Illinois Central College’s (ICC) Professional Development Institute. IMC staff continued employment counseling, stipends and supportive services such as transportation assistance, and maintained communications with both Juan and his ICC Instructor throughout his coursework.

As before, Juan’s limited English was an obstacle, but he resolved to keep striving to meet his goals. IMC staff worked with him intensively to help him with studying the material and practicing his English, particularly in using the occupational vocabulary pertinent to the training exams. He persevered and completed the course with an overall average of 92%. Juan earned a certificate from the ICC Professional Development Institute and his Illinois CDL.

Once Juan had his Illinois CDL in hand, he secured a regular job as a delivery truck driver. With IMC staff support and training assistance and the collaboration of workforce development resources - IMC, Illinois workNet Center, and Illinois Central College - he gained the skills he needed for a stable job. IMC staff were even more proud of his achievement because they knew about his struggles and how hard he had studied. Juan’s smile in his photos shows his genuine joy in securing a better future for himself and for his family.


Learn about Samantha

Samantha worked seasonally harvesting and sorting pumpkins before she enrolled in IMC’s National Farmworker Jobs Program. In her own words...

“My journey was not easy but I did it! With the help of the Illinois Migrant Council I was on my way to starting my class. In twelve short weeks I was going to study and test my knowledge to become a Dental Assistant. The class was an awesome experience. What I liked most was that everything was hands on. For me that’s the best method…. There were times I would find myself overwhelmed with all the information. I was lucky to have a job lined up before I even finished the class… I enjoy every minute of what I do, working with teeth and meeting new people. I couldn’t have done any of this without the help and support of IMC staff who answered all my questions."


Learn about Fabiola

Fabiola enrolled in IMC’s National Farmworkers Jobs Program after many years of seasonal farmwork that included picking, packing, cleaning and sorting vegetables for a local farm in Central Illinois. She also worked at a local dairy milking and feeding cows, birthing calves and administering medications. While it was difficult for her to leave the familiarity of farmwork, she wanted a better life for her family. IMC case management staff encouraged her to explore career opportunities in the health field because she had expressed interest in this sector. They provided assessment and occupational counseling, assisted her to identify schools that provided nurse’s assistant certification, and suggested an appropriate career pathway to meet her goals.

IMC staff helped her throughout the admissions and enrollment process for the ERS Services Basic Nursing Aide Program including providing payment of tuition and fees, required immunizations, a background check, and the materials, books and uniform needed for clinical training. To help her complete training, Fabiola received transportation assistance (gas cards) to get to and from class as well as stipends, rent and food assistance, computer literacy, tutoring help and referrals for health services. Fabiola most valued the consistent encouragement she received from IMC staff that helped her meet many challenges during training.

Fabiola’s personal dedication and determination to overcome all obstacles were demonstrated in many ways on her pathway to becoming a Certified Nurse’s Assistant (C.N.A.). She laid the groundwork by attending English as a Second Language instruction and obtained her GED in English. She drove one hundred miles a day to attend her C.N.A. classes. As a single parent in school with her own homework assignments and studies, she was responsible for a daughter aged 16 and son aged 6, and successfully juggled their schedules with her own. After completing training, she successfully passed the State of Illinois competency test to become a Certified Nurse’s Assistant. Soon after her graduation, IMC staff placed Fabiola as a C.N. A. at a local nursing home. In addition to her employer’s expressions of appreciation for her competence and reliability, residents of the nursing home awarded Fabiola the employee of the month title.

Fabiola has said she is motivated by her children, wanting to show them by example that you can do anything if you put your mind and heart into it. This is further illustrated by her persistence in pursuing her dreams: Fabiola was sworn in as a U.S. citizen. Her next goal is to become a licensed practical nurse.


Learn about Rafael

For many years, Rafael was a farmworker detasseling in the fields but he always had aspirations to become a forklift operator. He also wanted to work in a warehouse environment. He was recruited for the National Farmworker Jobs Program at the end of the agricultural season. IMC staff worked with him to complete an individual employability plan that would lead him along the career pathway he had chosen, helping him to register for the Forklift Operator Certification Course at McHenry County College with classes conducted at the NISSAN Forklift Company in Marengo, Illinois. Very soon after successfully completing training and receiving his certification, Rafael achieved his goals: employment in a warehouse environment as a Forklift Operator.

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