Amherstburg Community Services

Amherstburg well represented among MP’s Canada 150 medal recipients



By Ron Giofu


Essex MP Tracey Ramsey recently awarded approximately 40 Canada 150 medals and Canada Sesquicentennial Pins to people from around the riding and Amherstburg was no exception.

Ramsey said the medals were to “incredible people of Essex (County) who have really inspired me. I knew they should be recognized for their efforts.”

Ramsey said that being the area’s Member of Parliament since 2015 has opened her eyes to all of the work taking place in the area.

Eleven-year-old Gabby Wilkinson of Amherstburg (left) was one of about 40 recipients of Canada 150 medals presented by Essex MP Tracey Ramsey.

“You can live here your whole life and not realize the work being done around us,” said Ramsey. “In the past two years I was able to meet and connect with incredible individuals who have inspired me. I have the wonderful opportunity to work with people in our communities who dedicate themselves every day by showing how much they care about their neighbours, making life better for all those around them.  I am honoured to be able to recognize them for their outstanding efforts to make our community a better place with these special symbols of Canada 150. I want to thank every recipient for their continued generosity of spirit that makes our riding of Essex and Canada the best place in the world to live.”

Essex MP Tracey Ramsey (left) presents a Canada 150 medal to ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo.

Among the recipients was Gabby Wilkinson, a student at Amherstburg Public School. Wilkinson was six-years-old when she had problems in math class with patterns. She received help in making patterns and that led to her making bracelets.

From there, Wilkinson started selling the bracelets at an Alzheimer fundraiser in Windsor and raised $68. “Gabby’s Gifts” evolved out of that and the local youth continues to volunteer and sell treats, crafts as well as her bracelets for numerous local charities and causes, including helping the homeless.

Essex MP Tracey Ramsey (left) presents a Canada 150 medal to Amherstburg Freedom Museum board president Monty Logan.

“I was nervous and excited,” Wilkinson said about getting the award. “It was a nice surprise.”

Wilkinson is now 11-years-old and in her fifth year of helping others.

Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission Tim McAllister was another local recipient. Born in Barbados, McAllister came to Canada and attended St. Clair College and became a welder. The married father of four worked in that field for several years before an auto accident involving a drunk driver cut his career short.

McAllister started volunteering with the mission with founders Andy and Pat Gervais and would eventually become president, a position he has held for the last 17 years. He is also a board member at Matthew House in Windsor. He has also won other numerous awards for his efforts.

Essex MP Tracey Ramsey (left) presents a Canada 150 medal to Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission president Tim McAllister.

“As president of the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission, I have found great pleasure in our motto ‘People Helping People’,” said McAllister. “I didn’t volunteer to receive this award but on behalf of my board of directors and volunteers, I do it with a humble and thankful heart. For all of those who volunteer and support the mission, I thank you.”

Kathy DiBartolomeo, executive director at Amherstburg Community Services (ACS), was another of the medal recipients. DiBartolomeo started volunteering with ACS in 2007 as a way to give back and to support the community. She worked her way up the ladder and by 2009, she had shown the skills and passion to become the executive director.

With DiBartolomeo at the helm, ACS is in the Amherstburg, McGregor, Harrow and LaSalle communities and assists thousands of people who are vulnerable, elderly or in need. She is also willing to volunteer her time to assist other organizations who need a helping hand.

“I am very honoured and humbled by this Canada 150 medal,” DiBartolomeo stated. “To be recognized for what you love to do is rewarding and gives me and my staff the encouragement to continue serving  our community.

Team Ontario – a group of Essex-Windsor EMS members who won back-to-back gold medals at the Ralleye Rejviz international paramedic competition – were honoured by Essex MP Tracey Ramsey (centre) with Canada 150 medals. Amherstburg native Lance Huver is second from left.

Monty Logan was also recognized with a Canada 150 medal and pin. Logan, president of the Amherstburg Freedom Museum’s board of directors, was elected to that position in 2012, after joining the board the previous year.

Logan has helped guide the museum through key strategic, infrastructure, programming and fundraising initiatives as well as a transformation from the former identity as the North American Black Historical Museum to the Amherstburg Freedom Museum. Two elements of the transformation are complete – the curated archive on the Underground Railroad and the Amherstburg Freedom Summit. The final component is the Amherstburg Freedom Institute, which will focus on promoting solutions to address social and economic challenges facing young people today.

“It’s awesome to be honoured for the work we do at the museum,” said Logan. “More importantly, it’s getting our name out there. It’s an honour to be recognized for the work we do.”

Several police officers were among the medal recipients, including Amherstburg police chief Tim Berthiaume. Berthiaume, who has spent his entire career in Amherstburg, was contacted by the RTT and he said he was happy to be recognized.

“I am honoured and humbled to be recipient of the Canada 150 Medal,” said Berthiaume.

Team Ontario, the group of Essex-Windsor EMS paramedics that won gold at the Rallye Rejviz international competition, was also honoured. EMS Team Ontario members Chris Kirwin, Shawn May, Lance Huver and Mike Filiault made up the 2017 team with Huver being an Amherstburg native.

ACS helps seniors with “Stuff a Stocking” initiative again this year



By Ron Giofu


Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) once again brightened the Christmas season for area seniors.

ACS held its “Stuff a Stocking for Seniors” initiative for the fourth straight year with the number of stockings given out being increased from 200 to 400 this year. Executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo said they received a strong amount of donations from the community this year, with everyone from sports teams to schools joining members of the general public in helping out.

Volunteers from Caesars Windsor help ACS stuff the stockings for seniors.

DiBartolomeo said they deliver to seniors’ homes, including those who use ACS’ services like Meals on Wheels or another service. They also get requests from people who know a senior that needs help around the holiday season.

The stockings were also distributed at ACS’ congregate dining meal last Friday at the ACS office on Victoria St. S.

The stockings were filled with chocolates, gloves, various toiletries and other small items suitable for senior citizens.

“It’s been really successful,” said DiBartolomeo.

Staff from Caesars Windsor came out last week to help ACS stuff the stockings. Caesars Windsor donated $1,500 towards this year’s campaign. Andre Houad, one of the Caesars employees that came to the ACS office to help, said they were glad to do so.

A group of seniors hold up their stockings at ACS’ congregate dining meal Dec. 15.

“It’s for a good cause,” he said. “It’s just a few hours of your day that goes a long way. It puts smiles on people’s faces.”

DiBartolomeo added that ACS does hear positive feedback from seniors who receive the stockings.

“We get letters from them and phone calls. They are very appreciative,” said DiBartolomeo. “Some of them say it’s the only gift they’ll get.”

ACS teams with town for seniors roundtable



By Ron Giofu


A group of nearly a dozen service providers for seniors gathered at the Libro Centre last Wednesday morning to explain what they do.

Representatives from church groups, service clubs, senior-centric businesses and medical professionals gathered for the roundtable as part of a process to start networking and to have the town and Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) get a handle on what is out there.

“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.”

Rick Daly, the town’s manager of recreation services, said the senior population is rapidly growing and that as of 2016, 16.4 per cent of Ontario’s population is 65-and-over. In Amherstburg, 18.1 per cent of the population is in that age group.

“Seniors now are more active than ever,” he said. “The question we want to answer is how do we support our senior population?”

DiBartolomeo said seniors want to be active and they were also trying to find out what barriers may exist that prevent some seniors from being active. She said they are trying to network with others, compile a database of senior services and continue to work together.

“Amherstburg is a jewel,” she said, though many groups continue to “work in silos.”

Service providers outlined concerns about transportation, educating people about what is out there, and accessible housing. There are those seniors who don’t want to be a burden and others that simply don’t know what is out there, it was explained.

ACS and the town held a roundtable with senior service providers. ACS community awareness/fundraising co-ordinator Austin Tyrrell, ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo and town manager of recreation services Rick Daly gather input from Heather Vandenham from Seasons Amherstburg.

Daly said grant opportunities are being explored and that the town is pursuing a master aging plan. There is hope of possibly developing the former St. Bernard School into a “hub” for seniors activities.

“There are a lot of opportunities coming Amherstburg’s way,” said Daly. “It’s an exciting time to be a senior because of the opportunities.”

In the short-term, additional racks could be put up around the Libro Centre to house pamphlets with seniors activities.

Service providers and groups that were not able to attend last 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 DiBartolomeo can be contacted directly at


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.