Coats for Kids collections taking place in Amherstburg



Special to the RTT


As winter approaches, families across Essex County are faced with a real dilemma – how will they afford appropriate winter clothes.

The Coats for Kids program has helped families like this for over 30 in Windsor-Essex, and once again, Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) will collect and distribute warm, winter clothing to Amherstburg residents.

“For many people, buying winter clothing for their entire family simply isn’t an option next to paying their energy bills or putting food on the table,” ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo said.

Last year, ACS provided nearly 200 winter coats to Amherstburg residents.

“It’s incredible to see how much support we’ve had from people donating their winter clothing, and I think that sends a clear message to struggling families: your neighbours care about you,” she said.

ACS will be accepting donations until October 31.  The winter clothing will then be distributed from ACS’ office at 179 Victoria St. S. from Monday, Nov. 6 until Friday, Nov. 10.

Families can register to receive clothing by calling ACS at 519-736-5471.

Donations of winter coats are most needed to meet the demand in Amherstburg, but warm socks, gloves, hats, scarves, and sweaters will also be accepted.  People can drop off their gently used winter-wear either at ACS’ office, or at the Libro Credit Union Centre at 3295 Meloche Road.

The Coats for Kids program in Windsor-Essex County is a collaborative that is headed by the Unemployed Help Centre in Windsor.

Fifth Wine n’ Hop event raises more than $4,000 for Amherstburg Community Services



By Jolene Perron


With more than 100 people in attendance, Amherstburg Community Service’s bi-annual Wine n’Hop was able to bring in a significant amount of money to help the organization with their 20-plus programs.

The bar-crawl style event is organized by ACS themselves, taking visitors to a handful of Amherstburg’s downtown restaurants to enjoy a unique culinary experience which helps to make Amherstburg such an attractive destination.

“The bi-annual event made its debut in 2015, and is now in its fifth iteration.,” explained ACS community awareness/fundraising coordinator Austin Tyrrell. “Since that first 2015 event, it remains the only bar-crawl style evening event in Amherstburg, and continues to provide a unique experience that complements a festival-rich town. We have provided free local transportation services at every event, in order to make sure that patrons have a safe ride home available.”

The fifth Wine n’Hop event brought attendees to five local restaurants, one of which was the Artisan Grill September 27 to taste some local wines and brews, and try a few of the restaurant’s appetizers.

Tyrrell said the event’s biggest strength is the quality of the participating restaurants. Since it began in 2015, they have seen six local restaurants plus the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 157 participate. This year’s event featured the Artisan Grill, Rosa’s, Beacon Ale House, and the Dalhousie Bistro, as well as the Legion which began and ended the event. Ticket holders were able to try one food item and one local wine or beer at each of the stops.
This year’s event sold out within two weeks.

Vanessa Mifusd has lived in Amherstburg for two years. She and her husband went to the first event shortly after they moved to town to get to know people.

“This year we’re meeting up with the first group that we met,” said Mifusd. “It was a chance to meet people and get to know what restaurants are available, how the food is and of course the local wines. When I retired from London, I was from the Ministry of Community and Social Services so I knew of different organizations in the area. I know it’s helping people and that’s always been first on my list.”

Tyrrell said the funds raised from the event allow ACS to continue to support a variety of programs they provide to families and individuals in Amherstburg, LaSalle, Harrow and even McGregor. Without them as the county connection, the next closest place to get many the services they provide would be Windsor.

“Support for the event seems to be strong, and it is our intention to continue to grow the event and provide even more memorable experiences moving forward,” said Tyrrell. “The Wednesday event raised nearly $4,000 for the small, local charity, thanks in part to their four sponsors: John D’Alimonte and Kim Wheeler RE/MAX Preferred Realtors, Dollars and Cents Investments Inc., Bornais Financial Services, and Tech-IT-Easy.”

Town to investigate transit system


By Ron Giofu


Inspired by the recently launched transit system in LaSalle, Amherstburg will investigate the idea of bringing one here.

However, one local service agency is reminding people about their own services in that regard.

Councillor Diane Pouget said she has been approached by residents about the possibility of bringing a transit service to Amherstburg.

“Years ago, council tried to work with other municipalities to get public transit. At that time, it was not feasible,” explained Pouget. “Now that LaSalle has it, our residents want us to look at it again and that is why we directed administration to begin discussions as to whether or not it is feasible.”

Pouget said it would be a help to seniors and students get where they need to go. With LaSalle on board, Pouget believes it could make things more feasible for Amherstburg but Pouget added council still needs to know the financial implications before a final decision is rendered.

“I think it’s a good fit for us to join,” she believes. “At least we’re going to look into it.”

It could be one more step to a regional transit service, she added.

“If Amherstburg gets on board, then another municipality might,” said Pouget.

However, Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) is pointing out their own services and the fact they already assisting local residents with transit. ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo was respectful of council’s decision, and noted that ACS is always interested in solutions to transit issues.

“It’s exciting to see council take this issue seriously. There are plenty of people in Amherstburg who don’t drive for a variety of reasons and we’re glad to see council take notice of their unique challenges,” said DiBartolomeo. “We hope that council explores every possibility and considers the tools that are already available to them.”

DiBartolomeo pointed out that ACS has provided accessible transportation for seniors in Amherstburg since 1984.

“If council decides that we should be part of the conversation, we would be happy to help wherever we can,” said DiBartolomeo.

ACS is also part of a team that offers local residents a student shuttle service.

“We do provide transportation to students at St. Clair College and we are looking at ways we can improve this service to better match the needs of Amherstburg’s youth,” she added.

Registration open for county-wide student shuttle service


Special to the RTT


Vanessa Dafonte still has plenty to take care of before her fall semester starts up at St. Clair College. Buying textbooks, finding out where her classes are and getting used to a new schedule is both exciting and stressful. Despite living about half an hour away from St. Clair College though, one thing Dafonte doesn’t need to stress about is how she is getting to those classes.

“Without this service, I’d have to put a pretty big burden on the people in my life to get me to class – it would have been so much harder without this option.” Dafonte, a Chemical Laboratories Technology student at the college said. “When I signed up I really only expected to get a ride to class. I didn’t expect how friendly the drivers would be.”

The St. Clair Student Shuttle, which offers an accessible, county-wide transportation service to and from the St. Clair College main campus has provided a simple solution to a problem faced by so many living in Essex County. The shuttle has been provided to students since 2013 through a collaboration of three local non-profit organizations: South Essex Community Council (SECC), Essex Community Services (ECS), and Amherstburg Community Services (ACS).

ACS logo2

“This service has become so important to so many people – for some it is absolutely life changing,” said Kathy DiBartolomeo, the executive director at Amherstburg Community Services. “The challenge of connecting the rural Essex County with the city has been discussed plenty of times but this is a service that’s available now and ensures that no matter your situation or where you live, you have the opportunity to better yourself.”

Registration for the St. Clair Student Shuttle is now open, and any interested students must register in advance. There is a monthly user fee of $240 to offset the costs incurred by the organizations. Once a student has registered, they will be given information on pick-up and drop-off times and locations. Seating is limited and will be provided on a first come, first served basis. Students may call the organization closest to their residence to register.

For more information, contact Amherstburg Community Services at 519-736-5471 or visit


ACS assessing community needs through survey



Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) has started a campaign with the goal of helping their staff better serve the communities they operate in.

The charity, which is based in Amherstburg and serves residents of Amherstburg, LaSalle, Harrow, and McGregor, currently offers over 20 different services that aim to support local seniors and low-income families.

ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo says this campaign is vital to ensuring that community needs are being met and that their services continue to fill the changing needs within the region.

“We can’t encourage others to strive to better themselves without doing so ourselves,” DiBartolomeo said. “As an organization, we know we can never stand still. This campaign will help us see exactly what the residents in our region want in their communities so that as we move forward, we can be confident we are moving in the right direction.”

DiBartolomeo explains that this campaign is a great way for people to have their voices heard, share their ideas, and spark the changes they would like to see in their community.


The staff has already issued service-specific surveys to existing clients. However, the organization is looking for input from the public on topics such as services and activities for adults, public transportation and employment and job searches, with a focus on the specific needs of the communities of Amherstburg, LaSalle, Harrow, and McGregor.

The survey has been posted online at

It has also been made available at the ACS office, located at 179 Victoria St. S., in Amherstburg.

The surveys will be collected until Sept. 1.

ACS is also looking for individuals to participate in in-person interviews and focus groups during this same period. If anyone is interested in being interviewed, they are asked to call ACS at 519-736-5471.