Volunteer Story: An Afternoon with Longtime ArtsQuest Volunteer, Tony Sabino

By Saige Sufrin

Take a close look at the foundation of ArtsQuest’s events and festivals, and there you’ll find an exceptional group of people with a dedication to serving the community through artistic, cultural and educational experiences. These people are the ArtsQuest volunteers. Donating their time throughout the year, they pass smiles onto our communities. With this year marking the 40th Anniversary of Musikfest, I sat down with one of our longest running volunteers for a conversation about the world of volunteering.

Tony Sabino is not your ordinary guy. Before our chat I heard of his legacy from several members in the organization talking about how he is going on 40 years of service as a Musikfest volunteer. Quite a monumental achievement to hold in a lifetime. Sabino’s volunteer life started in the summer of 1985, the year Americaplatz (what is now Zinzenplatz) was introduced, with sponsor First Valley Bank. That year, Tony was employed by the bank. His Musikfest volunteer story began when he discovered a memo at his desk calling for volunteers to help staff the platz. “It sounded like fun, so I did it,” he said. “It was an absolute blast, so the following year I continued on and just kept on going ever since.” From that day forward, Tony returned each year, until it ended up changing the entire course of his life.

During Musikfest 1989, Sabino was working a normal shift selling soda when a special ticket volunteer caught his attention. Striking up a conversation with the woman, Sabino looked at her name tag, and thought “OK, Italian last name like mine, that says connection there.” They carried on with the conversation the rest of the night, until he broke the question, “would you like to get a cannoli with me?” Cannolis were had, and when the seasons changed, the two continued to make plans to see each other.

During the following year on August 19, Tony Sabino asked an even larger question, proposing before their volunteer shift at Musikfest.

Judy said yes.

With close to 40 years of volunteering under his belt, Tony and his wife Judy Sabino now have two children who have given their time to the family tradition of volunteering at Musikfest. Tony exclaimed that,

“…the volunteer mindset is unique, and it’s people who are outgoing… so you’re going to find a connection.”

The friendships he’s made through the years of volunteering feel more like family at this point, he and his pals get food monthly together. When they are apart, emails are sent almost every day, keeping tabs with each other’s lives to see what’s going on. When Sabino isn’t volunteering during the summer, he has a musical endeavor that he composes with his family. In this project, he records the guitar tracks with his brother on keyboard. Afterward, they layer vocals into the mix with a drum track from his son to top it off. By winter’s end, their full CD is complete and ready to be given to friends and relatives to enjoy going into the warmer months.

Tony’s Musikfest Hat Filled with Every Volunteer Pin He’s Received

With Tony’s love for music, I had to ask, “if you were to build a supergroup of musicians from the past or present, who would be in your group?” Sabino’s response was, “James Taylor, John Denver, Simon and Garfunkel, Brian Wilson, Cass Elliot, Dean Martin, Stephen Bishop…” and the cherry on top… “ any one of The Beatles.” Certainly, his supergroup would sell out any arena.

With a strong passion for music and the arts, we thank Tony and the Sabino family for their dedication to volunteering.!


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