In order to make our content more accessible, we’re including a transcript for videos from our YouTube page. Find the full transcript below for this video following the story of Greg Szabo, Director of Public Relations and Development, Senior Production Worker Dan Phelps, and Production Worker Heather Bogantinoff at The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. in Spokane, WA
To have a job means everything to me. I truly don’t know where I would be if I had not found the Lighthouse. I absolutely love what this organization has done for my self-esteem, making me realize that I am totally capable of improving myself and being the best that I can be. And before the Lighthouse, I really did not have those types of positive feelings about myself. And this organization has totally opened my eyes up to new possibilities and that really, there is no end if you want to move up and you put forth the effort, the Lighthouse will have your back 100%.
My name is Greg Szabo, I am the Director of Public Relations and Development for the Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc.
I was born with an eye condition called retinitis pigmentosa, and I was diagnosed with that condition at three years old.
I was honestly living at home, bored, wanting to be around people and have something to do. So a friend of mine who lived in Spokane told me about The Lighthouse for the Blind, and I came out here to check it out. And right after walking in the doors and seeing the manufacturing shop, I fell in love with this organization. I knew I wanted a job and I put in my application. And a couple of weeks later, I moved from Portland to Spokane to start a job at the Lighthouse on the manufacturing floor.
Prior to the Lighthouse opening in Spokane, there was never a facility for employment for people who are blind. So the Lighthouse was the first opportunity in Spokane for folks that are blind to come and work and have a job in manufacturing.
When I got to The Lighthouse for the Blind, I began working in production, mainly on the wallboard line. I was packaging our wallboards that we make for the Federal Government. And what’s great about the Lighthouse is they really cross train you in several areas. So in those first few weeks of being here, I worked in our easel department, I worked with our entrenchment tool, which is a collapsible shovel for the US military. And I did a lot of work in the machine shop, really learning all the different parts of the organization in our operations area.
I moved up in 2015 to be the first wallboard set-up that was blind here, and worked with the organization on making that job accessible and adaptable for a person that was blind.
The Lighthouse saw the potential in me and gave me an opportunity to become the Director of PR and Development, and it’s been amazing. They’re helping out with my return to school, so I’ll be getting my bachelors degree in communications. And it’s just really been awesome that they took a chance on me and saw that potential.
The Employee and Community Services programs that we offer at the Lighthouse really increase our employees’ independence and self-sufficiency. Employees are able to have three hours of paid time to work in orientation and mobility, computer and technology training, and braille literacy.
Dan Phelps, Senior Production Worker:
Here at the Lighthouse, the training has been phenomenal. I was able to learn some basic internet skills. I worked on some typing skills, because I think I couldn’t type more than 34 words a minute, so that helped! Got me up to 65 words a minute. And, with those skills, I wanted to learn more about Excel and Access. And I did! And I felt really good about it and I was able to successfully use it for what I wanted to do with Access and Excel.
Heather Bogatinoff, Production Worker:
Working at the Lighthouse has changed my life in such an incredible way. I have a home now. I have a full time job. I can go home, I’m not sleeping on my friend’s couch any longer. Just so many opportunities. Just feeling great about myself. Just like, you know, like I said, doing things that I never thought I could do before. And meeting people who are like me, you know, going through the same experience and just kind of being there for each other.
Donors and corporate partners are really critical to the success of the Lighthouse’s employees. Because of those funds, the employees are able to train in those programs, which increase their independence and self-sufficiency, at and away from the Lighthouse.
I see my career at the Lighthouse only moving up. I really enjoy this organization and have a passion for their mission. With the education and the help that the Lighthouse has provided for me, I could see myself being a President and CEO of either this organization or just another organization like ours that employs people who are blind.
Thank you for your interest and support of The Lighthouse for the Blind, Incorporated.
To learn more, visit our website at www.LHBlind.org and please follow us on social media.