Through GSB, Randy Sonzoni Supports GAC
One of the wonderful aspects of working at community-oriented Guilford Savings Bank (GSB) is the opportunity to get involved in the community as a volunteer, says GSB Assistant Vice President-Human Resources Supervisor Randy Sonzoni. As a member of GSB's Non-Profit Committee, and as someone who has turned his love of woodworking into building furniture for his family and friends, Randy raised his hand when Guilford Art Center (GAC) came to GSB seeking its newest board member.
"When the GAC had come to us asking for board participation, I really felt this was a great opportunity, because of my background," says Randy. "I like the arts; I'm a woodworker, and I like to do things with my hands. So I really appreciate any organization that teaches creativity through utilizing somebody's perspective and hand-skills. And I just thought it was great that they give back to the community as a non-profit."
Randy was also very familiar with GAC, now a shoreline fixture for 55 years. He grew up in Guilford before moving to Branford while in 7th grade. Randy now lives in Milford with his wife Alison and their daughter, Brooklyn, soon to be 3.
The Branford High School Class of 2006 alumnus earned his bachelor of business administration human resources management/personnel administration degree from Western Connecticut State University and started his career with GSB in human resources in 2015, right out of college.
"I saw Guilford Savings Bank's ad for an HR generalist and to be honest, I didn't think they'd hire me because I was fresh out of school. But I called them, they interviewed me, and it was great fit," Randy says. "At GSB, we look at cultural fit as well as job requirements. They thought I was a great cultural fit, and I'm glad they took the chance. They gave me an opportunity that I am forever grateful for."
After joining GSB, Randy went on to attend the banking industry's CT School of Finance Management, a two-year program, from which he emerged second in his class. Randy was promoted to his current GSB position in 2019.
In his board role with GAC, Randy hopes to help spread the word about the many hands-on opportunities GAC provides to all, whether you're a beginner or experienced student.
"One of the great things that sets the GAC apart from others is that you don't need to have the expertise behind anything we're offering. You can come in from being an [introductory] person or not ever picking up a paintbrush or a hammer or anything along those lines, and our job is to teach you about what you want to learn."
Randy says his dad was his role model and motivation for developing hands-on skills and adds he honed his own woodworking ability for a very practical reason as an adult.
"I'm pretty handy, and I dedicate that skill and knowledge to my father. I learned a lot in life from him," says Randy. "I started making my own furniture because, frankly, at the time, my wife and I couldn't afford furniture when we first moved, and we couldn't find things that we liked that were affordable. So I started making my own things, [and] friends who saw the work would ask for things to be done."
This hobbyist woodworker started off turning wooden pallets into wine racks and has graduated to creating sliding barn door console tables, couch tables, blanket ladders, a bar table, and a pub table. At GAC, Randy is considering trying his hand at blacksmithing and can readily see his whole family finding other artistic options to explore, as Alison enjoys photography and Brooklyn likes to paint "anything under the sun."
Right now, registration is open for GAC's 2022 Winter Session in-person and online classes and workshops for adults, teens and youth, set to begin the week of Jan. 10. The range of offerings stretches from beading to blacksmithing, ceramics to drawing, fiber arts, glass, leatherwork, metals and jewelry making, painting, photography, sculpture, weaving, and special interest workshops such as paper making and visual journaling. Register online at www.guilfordartcenter.org where more information, including how to apply for financial aid, is available. GAC can also be reached by calling 203-453-5947.
Randy also wants to help spread the news that the sale's still on at GAC's annual Holiday Shop which will be open to the public through Jan. 9. Featuring fine craft, jewelry and unique objects, the shop is fashioned along the lines of GAC's annual Craft Expo on the Guilford Green, considered one of the top craft shows in New England and the country. This year, GAC's Holiday Shop is packed with items created by more than 200 American artists, makers, and designers. Located on the GAC campus at 411 Church Street, hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
Proceeds from Holiday Shop sales benefit the exhibiting artists and GAC's educational and community programs. Another way to support GAC any time of year is by making a donation online at www.guilfordartcenter.org. According to GAC's website, the center offers about 400 classes per year to more than 2,000 students from across the shoreline and beyond. GAC strives to ensure programs are accessible for students of all means by offering tuition assistance.
Additionally, the GAC gallery on campus is open free of charge to the public, while GAC community programs include its free, annual Open Arts Day; free class observation weeks; and collaborations with other community organizations to bring the arts to this region.
Randy says he's happy help support this important non-profit art center as a board member, and that he's grateful he was able to get involved, thanks to GSB.
"If I can support another organization along with GSB, I feel grateful for giving back in that nature," he says.