“Shining a Light on Compassion Celebration” comes to Amherstburg



By Ron Giofu


The Windsor-Essex Compassion Care Community (WECCC) brought its “Shining a Light on Compassion Celebration” to Amherstburg.

Amherstburg Community Church hosted the celebration with WECCC already having hosted similar celebrations in other local municipalities.

WECCC director Deborah Sattler said they wanted to come to Amherstburg to spread word of the movement throughout Windsor-Essex County. She noted the idea began three years ago and evolves around the notion of communities asking what is important about your quality of life.

Simple things make the difference in people’s lives, said Sattler, and preventing people from being isolated and them knowing people care and are there to help is important. She said in communities like Amherstburg, one in five are seniors and about 1,500 have some sort of disability.
Sattler said they want to bring together people and agencies to “fill in the gaps” so people don’t feel isolated and alone and get the help and comfort they need.

There were also several “Shining a Light on Compassion” Awards presented at the celebration with recipients including Laura Soutar-Hasulo, John McDonald, Angela Kelly, Rev. Ken Mervyn, Marita Wistuba, Melissa Piva, Mandy Theriault, Terry Noble, Dennis White and Catherine Cristofaro.
McDonald was credited as being an active church member who travels to Cuba to deliver medical supplies, a member of the Park House Museum board and a Kingsville Folk Festival and a donor of instruments to Hospice.

Kelly helped with such projects as the Miracle League, the Give Project, the John McGivney Children’s Centre and many other causes. She is also the mother of a 20-year-old daughter with cerebral palsy.

Rev. Mervyn was senior pastor at Amherstburg Community Church from 1991-2006 and was credited with supporting young people and those young at heart “with openness and positive reinforcement.”

Wistuba was once the youngest foster parent in the local system when she began fostering in her early 20’s and has continued through the years. She has adopted five children and has three biological children of her own.

Piva was honoured for her new book “Rory’s Rainbow” which revolves around gender identity and acceptance. She is trying to get the book into libraries to increase acceptance.

Among those receiving “Shining a Light on Compassion” awards recently were Melissa Piva, Catherine Cristofaro, Terry Noble, Marita Wistuba, Rev. Ken Mervyn and Angela Kelly. WECCC director Debra Sattler is second from right.

Theriault is a dedicated volunteer with the Canadian Cancer Society and has spent seven years supporting the cause. She is also president of the community advisory team, campaign captain, event volunteer and “someone who takes the lead when needed.”

Noble was recognized for her many hours overseeing the collection and transportation of thousands of boxes going to children around the world as part of the Christmas Shoe Box initiative.

White was honoured for creating and donating works of art for fundraisers for Brentwood and other charities over the years. He mentors young artists and offers sound advice and encouragement.

Cristofaro is described as “someone who treats others as she desires to be treated” and is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, a volunteer at retirement homes to assist seniors through music and movement and also makes people feel welcome in her Catz Meow dance studio by extending compassion to them.

Pastor John Bustard of Amherstburg Community Church spoke about that church’s role within WECCC and said “meaningful relationships really matter. What is life without relationships?”

Bustard said the compassionate care movement is “going to empower us to connect with people who need it the most and are the least known.”

Kathy DiBartolomeo, executive director at Amherstburg Community Services (ACS), pointed out they offer over 20 services including many to seniors. She said she was thrilled when she came across the WECCC movement and believes “community hubs are more relevant now more than ever” and that hubs “must work with community leaders to be successful.”

DiBartolomeo said more and more seniors want to stay in their own homes but also don’t want to burden anyone, so they shut themselves off from the outside world and don’t share their issues as often as they need to.

Agencies from around the area attended the celebration to share what they do, including Happy Soles, Primerica, Assisted Living Southwestern Ontario (ALSO), Canadian Blood Services, ACS, EquiConnect and Senior Chair Yoga.

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