Our people: Grant Szabadics - High energy community dynamo
Whether gazing at the stars, restoring classic cars, or engaging in theatrics, all of Mount Isa's a stage for local stalwart, community capacity builder and Mount Isa Mines employee Grant Szabadics.
Inspired by his parent's altruistic and benevolent ways, Grant was recognised earlier this year for his tireless work across the community and awarded the Mount Isa Citizen of the Year in a ceremony on Australia Day.
While Grant admits to sometimes having a hectic schedule, he regularly helps out and volunteers, in various capacities, across a broad spectrum of clubs in the Mount Isa region.
Whether it's cooking a barbeque at the Salvation Army Men's Group, manning the bar or acting at a theatre performance, teaching photography to the local Girl Guides, or organising some electrical work for the Lapidary Club, you'll find Grant assisting local clubs where he can.
And it's clearly evident that Grant has an innate fondness for the local Mount Isa community, having been born and bred in the town.
"I love Mount Isa, there's something very special about it," says Grant.
"People always say they've come to work here for two years and they're still here forty years later. And there's something to that."
Grant's parents exemplify these sentiments perfectly, with his father emigrating from Hungary to find work at Mount Isa Mines and meeting his mother, originally from Gundagai, who moved to work in the region as a nurse.
"I grew up with four brothers and people who knew our family would say - your poor mother!" quips Grant.
Grant also went on to raise a family of his own in Mount Isa with his partner and two girls and they've recently been blessed with the arrival of their second grandchild.
While it's true that Grant enjoys being involved in the many clubs, including perhaps his favourite the Mount Isa Restored Car Club—tinkering with his light blue 1969 HT Holden—it's his passion for people which stands out most.
Grant remembers Mount Isa having a proud history of social participation, with everyone in town involved in a club (or two), whether it be sporting, social, or other interest groups.
"These clubs help foster friendships and a sense of belonging, essentially strengthening the fabric of our town," says Grant.
While memberships have fallen in line with the declining regional population, Grant says many clubs have had to find new ways to survive.
"A lot of the different groups now cross-pollinate, in the sense that a number of times the astronomy club has had an event with the photography club and so on," says Grant.
Having performed strongly at school, Grant decided to follow his father's footsteps and joined Mount Isa Mines becoming an electrical apprentice in 1981 before graduating as an Instrument Artificer.
His father sparked an interest in him in all things electrical, a sense of tinkering and responsibility to not waste resources. Trips to the local tip to drop off rubbish tended to result in coming back with slightly more, much to his mother's chagrin.
"We'd bring back old televisions and pull them apart and take out all the copper wiring, burn off the insulation and take it in and swap it for some money," says Grant.
Grant currently works as an Electronics Technician Advanced with Technical Instrument Services in Health, Safety, Environment and Community (HSEC) at Mount Isa Mines.
This ensures he's kept busy conducting calibration checks on the highly technical equipment including SO2 monitors and dust samplers, Xact metals monitors and the wind stations that help Air Quality Control and the Environment team do their job.
"I really enjoy my work as it helps protect the community but, also as much as possible, allows production at the mine which is the town's livelihood."
"Dad worked at the mine for 37 years, but I've gone one better having been with Mount Isa Mines 38 years this year," smiles Grant.