Indiana farm worker of the year is helping hard-working families this Thanksgiving

Farm workers have been going non-stop through the pandemic so we can put food on our table, even when some may not have the means to put food on theirs.

Some volunteers are working to make sure Thanksgiving can happen for farm-working families.

We spoke to a man who was recently nominated farm worker of the year for Indiana.

Pablo Bueno Jr. used to be a farm worker himself – and he tells me he was very shy and even embarrassed about it. But now he runs his own business and makes it a point to talk about his past and better the future of others who have been through the same thing.

Step into the back of Pablo Bueno’s garage in South Bend and you’ll hear music blasting – a sign of a good, but productive, time.

He opened Pilo’s body shop—named after his dad—about five years ago.

“I’ve been very successful, thanks be to God,” said Bueno.

This steady business is in stark contrast to his childhood moving across the country picking fruit with his family,

“Just when you were getting settled and it was time to pick up and go,” said Bueno.

Starting a new school every few months

“It happened too often, in fact I dropped out of school in the fifth grade because I couldn’t keep up,” said Bueno.

He says his background gave him the survival skills to swallow his pride and do whatever it took to make his business a success.

“I would work on the car, get to a stopping point get tired, sleep in the car, and then get up and go back to work again,” said Bueno.

He was a single father with just his kids and his car. He turned to Proteus for help with money for education.

“It is very important because I understand the meaning of being in need and the importance of having some support,” said Bueno.

He’s humble about it, but now he’s an invaluable volunteer, named farm worker of the year for all of Indiana.

He drove toilet paper to families in need when there were shortages this year. Now he’s helping organize Thanksgiving.

“If it wasn’t for other people giving us a hand, God knows where her next meal would’ve come from,” said Bueno.

Even though he prefers tamales to turkey, he’s part of the reason some families are getting a fresh feast for the holidays.

In years past some of the food that’s been donated to farm workers has been canned or about to expire, but this year Proteus was able to get fresh, farm-to-table healthy food—in part because Pablo was able to help transport it.

Pablo got support starting out and now helps others through the organization Proteus-- you can contact them for support or to volunteer/donate at 574-387-3575. 

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