By sharing his talent and simply doing his part to support the St. George Men’s Group “World’s Fare” buffet fundraiser, Tony Sicignano embodies the mission of this remarkable group of responsive volunteers making a big difference in Guilford.
The group whips up new events, and also continues some popular annual events, to help raise funds that are given back to Guilford-centric charitable causes of all types. Tony says that’s been the idea from their founding effort, which coincided with a town Tree Lighting and raised funds to replace hurricane-damaged trees on the Guilford Green.
“The original members had a vision in mind. They wanted to be able to respond to things as they happened. Because of those seven men, that set the theme and the pace for the group,” says Tony. “The group is just starting its fourth year and to date we’ve earned close to $150,000 for causes we’ve chosen to benefit from our events.”
Newly retired from his second career as a nuclear medicine technologist, Tony’s first profession was in the field of printing. He still puts his expertise to use for St. George Men’s Group by arranging for event publicity, posters, and banners like the “World’s Fare” sign currently catching attention on the front lawn of St. George Church.
“The World’s Fare Buffet is a brand new event,” says Tony. “We’re fortunate in that we have a lot of cooks in our group. I have no problem volunteering my time and doing the work to help it succeed, but I can’t cook! So I’ll instead handle a lot of the advertising for events.”
The World’s Fare Buffet is set for Saturday, Feb. 11 (snow date, Feb. 12) from 5 to 8:30 p.m. in the St. George Church Hall, 33 Whitfield Street. Cuisine from points around the world—including Poland, Mexico, Germany, Brazil, America, Ireland, Italy, and India—will be served up, buffet-style, for ticket holders to enjoy. Proceeds from ticket sales will go to a fund that helps St. George Men’s Group respond to charitable needs and foster future fundraising events for charitable causes. Tickets, $20 for adults and $12 for kids 12 and under, can be purchased, in advance by calling 203-410-4682, or at the door. The group is also selling tickets Saturday, Feb. 4 and Sunday, Feb. 5 after mass at the church.
“It’s sort of an open evening for people to enjoy,” says Tony. “Because it’s a buffet, you can come and stay for the entire time, or just come and have a little snack.”
Tony is also chairing the next group’s next big event, the annual St. Patrick Dinner Dance in March. The dance has been organized in past years by founding member Cliff Bechtold, who had to pass the baton this year, but will be a tough act to follow, says Tony, smiling.
“I’ve organized things like our Drive-In Movie nights before,” he says. “We knew this was a very worthwhile event, so I offered to step up and help out. We always use the proceeds from the St. Patrick’s Dinner Dance to assist our military. Last year, we did it for Gold Star families, and that really hit home because one of our members lost his son [Army Captain Andrew Pedersen-Keel] in Afghanistan three years ago.”
Tony says the event gets great support and he especially thanks Guilford community member John “Cadillac” Saville for once again contributing his time and talent as the dance’s DJ.
“He always gets everyone up and dancing. He does a lot in the community, especially when it comes to supporting our military,” says Tony.
It was another active community member, the late Lou Weady, who invited Tony to join St. George Men’s Group. An active member of St. George Church, Weady was a founder of the group. He also founded Royal Printing Service in town.
Tony met Lou shortly after Tony and his wife, Sandra, moved to Guilford from West Haven 13 years ago. The couple raised their children in West Haven and have now been married 47 years. At the time of their arrival in Guilford, Tony was newly active in his second career, but was also still involved the professional organization connected to his printing background.
“When I moved to Guilford, I had to put together a meeting for my professional group, and I needed some printing done, and that’s how I met Lou. When I told him my background, we hit it off very well,” says Tony.
Lou invited Tony to join the still-new St. George Men’s Group, and Tony came aboard about six months after the group was formed. He has served ever since and is also a past board member.
“I just left the board in December, because my time was up and I decided I’d let someone else come in,’ says Tony. “We have a really great group of members, from people in their late 30s and early 40s to retired guys like me. So there is just a wealth of experience and backgrounds.”
Tony says that diversity of age and experience helps fuel the continued success of St. George Men’s Group.
“They’re employees, they’re business owners, landscapers, carpenters, accountants, banking people...it runs the gamut of employment and experiences, and that lends itself very well to the group,” says Tony.
For more information on St. George Men’s Group and upcoming events, visit www.stgeorgemensgroup.org.