ACS needs new vehicle, hopes for public’s support

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) needs a new vehicle and is looking for the public’s assistance in acquiring it.

ACS had to take one of its buses off the road in late 2017 due to the costs of maintaining the vehicle, which was an accessible vehicle capable of accommodating 16 people. That vehicle was roughly ten-years-old and removing it from the road left ACS short a vehicle, said executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo.

The non-profit organization states it has provided almost 25,000 rides to Amherstburg and LaSalle seniors in the past three years. ACS is aiming to raise $75,000 to purchase a new accessible eight-person vehicle.

Local rides have been reduced by a day and DiBartolomeo said they want to restore that as soon as possible and not risk any further cutbacks. Reducing the amount of days seniors and others with accessibility issues have to use their vehicles “snowballs,” said DiBartolomeo.

“That means seniors that use the service have to cancel appointments at specialists they may have had to wait months for,” she said.

There is also a “Day Away” program that also could be impacted, as family members and caregivers have to rearrange plans if the vehicle service is not available.

“Of our three remaining vehicles, two of them are over ten years old, and frankly, if and when any of those need to be repaired, we might find ourselves in a spot where we need to turn people away,” DiBartolomeo said. “If ever there’s a time we need help from our community, now is that time.”

ACS keeps its vehicles in the best condition possible, added community awareness and fundraising co-ordinator Austin Tyrrell.

“Maintenance costs don’t go down with age,” he said. “These vehicles are well maintained but the costs to maintain them are significant. The new vehicle will help us reduce those costs.”

DiBartolomeo pointed out that it isn’t as easy as just making an application to the government for money. While ACS will request help from the Erie-St. Clair LHIN, the local agency is in competition with other agencies for funding and it could be a process that may take years before any funding is granted.

ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo stands beside of the agency’s buses, being driven by Dawn Laliberte. ACS had to take one of its vehicles off the road recently and is fundraising for a new one.

There may also be restrictions placed on how use of a government-funded vehicle could be utilized.

“By having your own vehicle, you can give more people access to a ride,” she said.

ACS wants to be a solution to the issue of accessible transportation, DiBartolomeo added.

DiBartolomeo says that Amherstburg Community Services have already sent out letters to local businesses requesting donations. They also started selling tickets for their annual 50/50 lottery draw with the cost being three tickets for $5 until their SOUPer Wednesday fundraiser Feb. 21. Tickets for that fundraiser are also on sale now.

DiBartolomeo has asked that anyone interested in donating to ACS can do so by cash or cheque at their office at 179 Victoria St. S. in Amherstburg, or by credit card through their website, www.amherstburg-cs.com/make-a-personal-donation.

 

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