ACS

Amherstburg Police toy drive sees increased numbers

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Amherstburg Police toy drive has concluded for another year and its not just the police officers involved who are excited.

The Amherstburg Police Service partnered with Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) and Mealtime Express’ “Secret Santa” program for the toy drive with distribution of the toys taking place last week.

“We have 79 children and 39 families,” explained ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo.

Const. Nathan Harris, who helps organize the toy drive annually with wife Ashleigh, said families were chosen through referrals as well as those who have used services and programs offered by ACS.

“We almost doubled the numbers from last year,” said ACS’ community awareness and fundraising co-ordinator.

The Amherstburg Police toy drive, run in conjunction with Mealtime Express’ Secret Santa program and Amherstburg Community Services (ACS), concluded this week. Top row: ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo and Const. Nick D’Amore. Bottom row: Const. Nathan Harris (with Hudson Harris) and Ashleigh Harris.

“I think people are more aware of the program now,” added Nathan. “People have used it and have reached out to friends and family.”

The Secret Santa Benefit Dinner held last month at Mealtime Express raised $9,270.50 towards the initiative.

Both Nathan and Ashleigh Harris as well as Const. Nick D’Amore helped distribute the toys last week, in conjunction with ACS. Arrangements were made with Amherstburg Community Services and families were aware that the toys were being delivered, said Nathan.

Ashleigh added that all parties are very thankful to the community with Nathan pointing out that the town always pulls together to help people in need.

“Once again, the community has shown its generosity,” added DiBartolomeo.

Council approves $33,595 in grant requests as part of ’18 budget deliberations

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The 2018 town budget is ready for council’s adoption and it included $33,595 in grants to community organization.

Among the grant requests approved in principle were $5,000 for Amherstburg Community Services (ACS), $1,500 for Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission, $6,500 for the Amherstburg Freedom Museum and $8,500 for the Park House Museum. Grant requests for the Cat Assistance Team (CAT) and SNAP for Cats will be addressed after administration comes back with a report.

Kathy DiBartolomeo, ACS’ executive director, outlined the list of the 20-plus services the agency offers and pointed out they expanded their bus service to include driving students to and from St. Clair College. Their Meals on Wheels covers not only Amherstburg, but also LaSalle and Harrow as well.

DiBartolomeo noted they don’t receive enough government funding to cover all costs so they look for outside grants and revenue streams.

Mary-Katherine Whelan, curator at the Amherstburg Freedom Museum, pointed out Amherstburg’s contribution as a chief entry point on the Underground Railroad. She pointed out the museum has hosted Emancipation Galas, Ribs and Ragtime events and other programs and events promoting Black history. They recently held their first Amherstburg Freedom Summit.

Whelan said they have seen a 35 per cent increase in visitors over 2016 and have attracted visitors from as far as Ghana and Singapore.

Park House Museum curator Stephanie Pouget-Papak noted their role as a community museum, pointing out they will be hosting an archeological exhibit in 2018. She said their $8,500 request was “conservative” and noted visitor levels have steadily risen though many people come on free admission days.

The Park House has taken advantage of summer student programs with that program being beneficial for both sides, she suggested, adding that it is tough to find historical-related jobs in Amherstburg. Pouget-Papak also said there is “donor fatigue” in comparison to past years.

Tim Stocker and Karen Lloyd from SNAP for Cats and Renée St. Pierre and Carla Leardi from the Cat Assistance Team (CAT) both appealed for funding, with both groups asking for $5,000. CAO John Miceli asked whether the town’s voucher program would assist the groups.

Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale wondered if it was possible for the two groups to collaborate.

“It’s starting to cost the town a lot of money,” DiPasquale said during Tuesday’s budget deliberations. “Not that I’m against it, but people have to work together.”

Town council also agreed to waive $12,095 in rental fees for Rose City Gymnastics as the non-profit group is bringing the four-day Ontario Provincial Artistic Gymnastics championships at the Libro Centre next spring. Miceli said it isn’t a direct financial contribution, but the town would be forgoing other rental opportunities.

The move to waive the fees for the gymnastics championships has raised the ire of existing user groups, especially in light of the town’s decision to stick with its own option for Libro Centre surcharges. The user groups suggested all three principal users to contract ice hours at a minimum100 hours per year. The principal rate user surcharge would have been $4 per hour to all hours rented on all ice surfaces from Sept. 1-April 30 annually and $10 per hour for all pads from May 1-Aug. 31.

For Amherstburg resident users that book ice rentals for a minimum of 12 hours per month would be set at $6 per hour for all pads. Casual non-resident users would pay a surcharge of $13 per hour of ice rentals.

Under the town’s proposal, Renaud said it would translate into a $21.82 cost per AMHA player and $13.50 for every Skate Amherstburg participant. Under the proposal he presented, Renaud said the numbers drop to $14.54 per player in AMHA and $9 per Skate Amherstburg participant.

The town’s option calls for a $6 surcharge for user groups to help build a reserve fund to maintain the seven-year-old facility. User groups have expressed concern on the impact that will have on rates they will have to pass on to registrants.

The town did not concur with grant requests from a pilot project known as “The Garrison” with that request being $25,000. Council also did not agree to fund The Addolorata DeLuca Leadership Scholarship with that request being $10,000, though proponent Cessidia DeBiasio said it could be paid out over two years.

ACS hosting seniors roundtable next Wednesday morning

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) will be meeting with community service providers next Wednesday with seniors the focal point of discussion.

ACS is teaming with the town to host a roundtable discussion Dec. 6 in the Libro Centre’s community room from 10 a.m.-12 noon. The roundtable is geared towards seniors and the service providers and groups that service the senior population.

“We know that in the future that the number of seniors will grow,” said ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo. “We have to start planning now.”

ACS and the town want to find out what services are available now so they can work to bring in what is needed. Service and church groups will also be invited to the roundtable to find out what they offer for the senior population.

Businesses, such as those offering in-home services and financial services among others, have been invited.

“We’re opening it up to everyone. We want to find out what is out there,” said DiBartolomeo. “We know seniors of all ages want to be active in the community.”

DiBartolomeo added they will compile the data and see what areas they are lacking. There is the possibility of meeting directly with seniors themselves to find out what they want at a future meeting, she added.

There is also the thought of collaborating, she said, as DiBartolomeo said other not-for-profit agencies may offer similar services and multiple groups could enhance what is out there.

Service providers and groups not able to attend Wednesday morning’s roundtable can stop by Amherstburg Community Services’ office at 179 Victoria St. S. and let them know what they offer and what they do for seniors.

For more information on Amherstburg Community Services, call 519-736-5471 or visit www.amherstburg-cs.com. DiBartolomeo can be contacted directly at execdirector@amherstburg-cs.com.

Stuff-a-Stocking for Seniors makes return with help from Caesars Windsor

 

 

Special to the RTT

 

After returning from a brief trip out east last December, Carol, 80, came home to find a bright red Christmas stocking filled with gifts at her front door.

This year, thanks to a donation of $1,500 from Caesars Windsor as well as continued support from Amherstburg and LaSalle residents, Carol will be one of over 300 seniors to receive a gift from the Stuff-a-Stocking for Seniors program.

The Stuff-a-Stocking for Seniors program, which is organized by Amherstburg Community Services (ACS), collects small gifts from the community and puts them into Christmas stockings that are then delivered to seniors in Amherstburg and LaSalle. According to ACS executive director, Kathy DiBartolomeo, the aim of this program is to reduce the feelings of loneliness and isolation faced by seniors.

Amherstburg Community Services is currently accepting donations to help “Stuff-A-Stocking for Seniors” this holiday season. The River Town Times staff stuffed stockings and mugs last week to bring to ACS for the event. Donations will be accepted until Nov. 29 at their 179 Victoria St. location between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Fridays. They are looking for toiletries, winter wear, homemade cards, stockings and monetary donations.

“Senior loneliness and isolation is a serious problem that can be highlighted during the holidays,” DiBartolomeo said.

DiBartolomeo continued by saying that the contribution from Caesars Windsor, which will also be sending staff to help pack and sort the stockings, makes a huge difference.

“I cannot tell you just how much we appreciate their contribution – this will allow us to help more seniors than ever before,” she said.

After her experience last year, Carol says that the impact of this program is certainly felt by individuals like her.

“It actually made me cry because I had lost my husband only months before that, so the holidays were a difficult time for me,” Carol explained. “It was truly wonderful to open that up and see all the love that was packed inside. I’ll never forget it, and I made sure that every item in that stocking went to good use.”

ACS will be collecting donations for the program until Nov. 29. Small gifts such as gloves, socks, scarves, toiletries, small treats and candies, Christmas stockings, and homemade holiday cards, as well as monetary donations are needed and can be dropped off at ACS’ office at 179 Victoria St S in Amherstburg.

Drop-off boxes will also be set up at the Vollmer Complex in LaSalle and the Libro Credit Union Centre in Amherstburg. Seniors can be signed up by themselves or by others by calling ACS at 519-736-5471.

Secret Santa Benefit Dinner popular again at Mealtime Express

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Mealtime Express once again gave people a chance to have a chicken dinner and help local children at the same time.

The ninth Secret Santa Benefit Dinner was held Sunday evening at the Sandwich St. S. restaurant with the public responding favourably again in 2017. The final total of what was raised amounted to $9,270.50.

“We’ve pretty much sold all the tickets,” said Norm Mickle, who owns the restaurant with wife Janet.

Mickle said they have had businesses come forwarded with a wide variety of raffle prizes, adding Mealtime Express is very grateful.

“Everyone is volunteering their time,” he said. “We’ve donated the restaurant and the food and all of the proceeds go to local kids.”

The Secret Santa Benefit Dinner was held Sunday night at Mealtime Express. Staff volunteered their time to be there and were joined by Santa & Mrs. Claus. It is a partnership between Mealtime Express, the Amherstburg Police Service and ACS.

Once again this year, Mealtime Express teamed with Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) and the Amherstburg Police Service on the toy drive aspect of the Secret Santa program. ACS helps buy and distribute the goods with Amherstburg police also assisting with a toy drive as well. Mickle said they are happy with the partnership.

The Secret Santa program has been a big success in Amherstburg in its first eight years, he added.

“We’ve helped 200 families and over 500 kids over the first eight years,” said Mickle. “Local kids have received over 3,000 gifts right off of their Christmas lists. It’s actually gifts the kids want for Christmas.”

Mickle called the program “a real community affair” and now team with ACS and Amherstburg police after handling it themselves the first number of years.

“Everyone has their role. It’s perfect,” said ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo. “It’s a great partnership between the three of us. It only helps us get bigger and reach more families.”

Const. Nathan Harris, who helps organize the Amherstburg police toy drive with the aid of wife Ashleigh, said it is in its fourth year with the first three having gone well. Harris said the community seems to have rallied behind the toy drive and they have been able to help a good number of families in Amherstburg.

“We’re hoping to be as successful, if not more, this year and to continue to spread Christmas cheer,” added Harris.