ACS, town co-host town hall meeting for seniors



By Ron Giofu


Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) and the Town of Amherstburg reached out to the senior community in an effort to try and hear what they want and need.

A town hall meeting was held at the Libro Centre with about 40 people in attendance. Attendees were asked what they required in terms of medical care, recreational amenities and accessibility among other topics.

“This started in late 2017,” explained Rick Daly, the town’s manager of recreation services.

Daly said there was a stakeholder information meeting in which the town and ACS tried to find out what is being offered to seniors and what services are still needed. How the gaps in services get eliminated is part of the process, he added.

“We need to find opportunities for all of our residents,” he said.

Kathy DiBartolomeo, executive director with ACS, said the agency is often approached about what they can do for seniors. ACS offers such programming as lunches, transportation and programs where seniors are called and visited along with programs such as Meals on Wheels. They will continue to work with the town on additional programming, she indicated, and that consultations with the community will continue.

Amherstburg Community Services executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo fields a question from a resident as part of the seniors town hall meeting ACS held in conjunction with the Town of Amherstburg Aug. 16.

“These talks will be ongoing,” she said. “It’s not a one-off meeting.”

Ideas ranges from bringing in medical specialists, having exercise classes, educational sessions for singles and couples on such topics as cooking, alternative medicine, year-round pickleball, and having a community garden. Stephanie Thomson commented that she moved to Amherstburg from Toronto and was lucky to find someone to help her get acclimated to the town.

Thomson suggested a service where people could socialize and introduce new residents to the town.

“Social isolation will kill you,” she said.
John Miceli, the town’s chief administrative officer (CAO), said he saw a greeter service manned by volunteers when he visited Chicago. He believes something similar could work in Amherstburg.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity for the town,” said Miceli.

Miceli added that the town is planning on erecting electronic signage at the north and south ends of town and that will help advertise additional town programs. He believes those signs will be erected by late fall.

Questions over the seniors hub at the former St. Bernard School site were raised, with Miceli stating “we’ve got some major partners” that are coming. However, he said he can’t share a lot of details at the moment.

Local naturalist Greg Nemeth speaks about his hobby at the Aug. 16 town hall session for seniors at the Libro Centre.

Miceli added that a partnership with the Greater Essex County District School Board will allow for “a tremendous amount of opportunities for seniors programming” at the new public high school that will be erected on 15 acres of Centennial Park.

Greg Nemeth, a local naturalist, spoke on how he took up that hobby when he retired and was diagnosed with epilepsy. He suggested a boardwalk on lands within the Big Creek watershed would be useful, as he regularly walks and photographs wildlife in the area between Thomas Road and Concession 3 North.

“When you are walking with nature, it’s a different experience,” said Nemeth. “It’s calm. It’s relaxing. Put a boardwalk in for seniors. They’ll really enjoy it.”

ACS and the town hosted seniors expo earlier this year, DiBartolomeo pointed out, adding they hope it gets “bigger and better” every year.

“Every year, we hope to expand it,” she said.

Daly added he would like to see an advisory committee for seniors established, one that would report to town council. He said an advisory committee would have “the ear of council.”

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