Greg Szabo, 2012 Employee of the Year
“The Lighthouse [for the Blind, Inc.] is a great organization that has improved my life immensely,” says Greg Szabo, Senior Production Worker at Inland Northwest Lighthouse (INL) in Spokane, WA. “People should take a tour of the Lighthouse just to see how functional a person with visual disabilities can be, and to enlighten them as to what we are capable of.”
Growing up in a small community of Aurora, IL, Greg was born with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), and began experiencing severe problems with his eyesight at the age of 22. He graduated from Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove, IL, with an AA degree in Liberal Arts with a focus on Journalism. “The town I lived in had no public transportation, so finding work was difficult,” Greg notes. “It wasn’t until I moved to Portland in August of 2010 that I found work at an indoor dog park; a good six years after graduating college.”
While living in Portland, Greg became involved with goalball, a team sport designed for athletes who are blind. While participating in a goalball tournament in Portland, a friend of his visiting from Spokane watched him play, and enlisted him to help a fledgling team in Spokane (called the Spokane Spin) get their team organized and off the ground. It was in this relationship that Greg met several employees of INL and learned about the organization and its mission. He was swiftly hired into the organization and now plays and coaches the Spokane Spin team.
“My favorite thing about working at the Lighthouse is having people around you understand and realize that individuals who are blind are capable of anything,” Greg adds. “I love being able to show other individuals who are blind the skills I’ve obtained throughout my life, both in independent living and work skills. I’ve gained experience on a lot of machinery I never thought I would work on. Being an internal auditor is something I never thought I would do.”
When Greg isn’t hard at work at INL, he coaches and plays center in goalball, is an active guitar player and songwriter, and also enjoys hiking with his guide dog Finn.