Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission

Chili Cookoff packs punch for charities



By Ron Giofu


It was a milestone year for the Charity Chili Cookoff.

The cookoff, held annually at the Columbus Community Hall (formerly known as the Knights of Columbus Hall) in Amherstburg, was presented for the 25th time last Saturday night. Organizer Ron Fryer said there were eight teams this year.

Teams, and the charities they were helping, included the Columbus Community Hall (benefiting the K of C), the Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157, the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission, Maria’s Restaurant (benefiting Amherstburg Community Services), Smashed Apple Gourmet Catering (benefiting the United Way), the Artisan Grill (benefiting Amherstburg Community Services), Wolfhead Distillery (benefiting the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission) and Royal LePage (benefiting cancer research).

Fryer said he updated the event several years ago, got rid of the judges and allowed the people to choose the winner. While the participants served the chili, they didn’t necessarily serve their own entry as chili was poured into eight identical serving trays and dished out from those as to keep the competition as fair as possible.

The winners from the 2018 Charity Chili Cookoff were crowned at the Columbus Community Hall Saturday night. From left: Natalie Borrelli and Kirk Churchill from Maria’s Restaurant (third place), Tim and Winston McAllister from the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship MIssion (first place) and Kevin and Court Meloche from the Columbus Community Hall (second place).

“For $10, where are you going to go to sample chili?” asked Fryer. “For $10, where can you go for a night out?”

The Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission came in first place, the Columbus Community Hall finished second and Maria’s Restaurant came in third.

Mission president Tim McAllister, who served the chili with his son Winston, joked prior to the judging that he was there to win it.

“We’ve won second and third but we never won first,” McAllister said once the results were announced. “We are excited, grateful and thankful that people came out and supported us in this event. It was a lot of fun. I’m glad we were able to win.”

“It’s for a good cause,” added Winston.

The band Rio Michaels performed after the cookoff was concluded. Final totals of what each winning team won was not available at press time.

Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission celebrates updated website



By Ron Giofu


It was a two year process, but the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission has an updated website.

Formerly maintained by a Windsor resident who has since relocated to western Canada, the old website became out-of-date and tough to maintain locally. After offers to create a new one didn’t pan out, mission vice-president Shirley Hitchcock turned to her son to create a new website.

The mission had further hurdles to get the name back but once that was done, the website can now be updated locally with the aid of Hitchcock’s husband Jon.

“Our website has an entirely new look ,” explained Hitchcock. “It now contains updated information, photos and bios of our board members, a place to make a donation, a listing of what we need most, how we support the community and how they support us, upcoming events, when we’re in the news, etc.  Most importantly, all of the information is current.”

Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission Tim McAllister surfs the mission’s new website.

Mission president Tim McAllister was thrilled with the results.

“Shirley and her team started almost two years ago putting the website together,” said McAllister. “It was a lot of challenges, tears and frustration but it’s beautiful. It’s well done. The mission board of volunteers is very thankful to Shirley, her husband and her team for the efforts to put the website together.”

McAllister said such dedication is nothing different for the mission, as all board members and volunteers are committed to making the mission a better place.

“Everyone gives their dedication and commitment to the work,” said McAllister. “As president, it makes me feel good I have that support.

Local musician planning concert to benefit Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission


By Ron Giofu


The music of Rick Rock is known throughout Amherstburg and surrounding areas and he will be using his music to give back to a local charity Feb. 2.

Rockworld and Showtime Productions will be presenting the “Simply Queen” live tribute concert at the Caboto Club in Windsor as a fundraiser for the Amherstburg Food & Fellowship Mission. Rock is one of the promoters of the concert and will be performing as Freddie Mercury at the show.

“I have been performing for Amherstburg’s food mission for many years, as a volunteer musician for their events such as their Christmas volunteer dinner and any function (vice president) Shirley (Hitchcock) and (president) Tim (McAllister) asked for help with.”

The Simply Queen band will be performing a benefit concert for the Amherstburg Food & Fellowship Mission Feb. 2 at the Caboto Club in Windsor. (Photo courtesy of

Rock said he lives in Amherstburg and while other missions around the region get more assistance, he feels the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission “gets left out” in large, regional fundraisers.

The Simply Queen band will be performing a benefit concert for the Amherstburg Food & Fellowship Mission Feb. 2 at the Caboto Club in Windsor. (Photo courtesy of

“Even though the concert is in Windsor, I want to take care of the mission in Amherstburg,” said Rock. “I have a special place in my heart for Amherstburg and for the people here. I love Amherstburg. I feel it’s the pearl of Essex County.”

Between ticket sales, a silent auction and any further donations, Rock is hopeful of raising anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000 for the mission. Donations of canned goods and non-perishable food items will also be welcome.

Other members of the Simply Queen band include Windsor-Essex County musicians Mitch Taylor on bass and Phil Charette on drums plus other musicians from the Toronto area.

According to Rock: “Simply Queen performs all the iconic songs that made Queen one of the most legendary rock bands of all time, and faithfully recreates the grand scope of Queen’s live shows, both musically and visually, with attention to detail capturing the amazing live Queen experience that filled stadiums around the world.  No backing tracks – it’s all live, and ‘Guaranteed to Blow Your Mind!’”

Rock said if they get 400-500 people at the concert, “we’re happy,” but clearly wouldn’t mind if they topped that.

“If we get more, that would be dandy,” he said.

Simply Queen performed a concert last year that benefitted the Canadian Diabetes Association Windsor District and Rock said that drew over 700 people.

The Simply Queen band will be performing a benefit concert for the Amherstburg Food & Fellowship Mission Feb. 2 at the Caboto Club in Windsor. (Photo courtesy of

Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. The Caboto Club is located at 2175 Parent Ave. in Windsor, at the intersection of Tecumseh Road East.

Advance tickets are $20 and are available online thru  or cash at the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission as well as the Bod-E-Tone Kiosk at Central Mall in Windsor. If tickets don’t sell out by the Feb. 2 show date, tickets will be available at the door for $30.

If there are businesses or individuals that wish to donate cash or a door prize, please contact Rock by phone at 519-567-7520 or by e-mail at

The Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission also has a newly designed website, found at The site is geared towards providing information on what the mission needs most, any upcoming events, support received from the community and other items of community interest.

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.

Ramsey continues tradition of serving Christmas meals at mission



By Ron Giofu


A Christmas Day tradition continued Christmas Day at the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission as the riding’s Member of Parliament once again stopped by to help out.

Essex MP Tracey Ramsey helped serve Christmas dinner to the crowd of approximately 35-40 people and it was something she said she continues to enjoy doing.

“For me, it’s just a way to give back to the community,” said Ramsey. “I’m appreciative of what everyone does at the mission. It’s all about helping them serve and catching up with everyone.”

Essex MP Tracey Ramsey helped serve Christmas Dinner at the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission. From left: Lana Talbot, Ramsey, Gabrielle MacKinnon, Tim McAllister and Ted Laporte.

Ramsey said her family has a history of giving back, noting her grandparents’ involvement with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. The spirit of giving has filtered through the generations with the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission also having a family connection, as Ramsey’s husband’s aunt Lana Talbot is a volunteer at the mission.

“It’s something we enjoy doing – giving back,” she said.

Christmas Day was not the first time Ramsey was at the mission in December, as she helped deliver canned goods and other food items there. The NDP MP explained that a “reverse advent” was held at her community office where people were encouraged to bring in cans or non-perishable food items daily with the proceeds going to a number of food banks and missions in the area.

“After the holidays are a tough time at food banks,” she explained. “We want to make sure their shelves are full.”

Ramsey said she is “amazed” at what happens at the mission as well as the other food banks in the area.

“All of the communities are so giving,” she said.

The mission is no stranger to having the local MP visit, as former MP Jeff Watson also made it a yearly tradition to come by the mission and help out on Christmas Day.

Tim McAllister, president of the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission’s board of directors, said they cooked six 22-pound turkeys as well as all of the trimmings for the Christmas celebration.

“It is a lot of work but we see the smiles, laughter and joy,” he said. “It’s worth giving up sleep to do it.”

McAllister said it was “a great Christmas” and that he calls it a “community dinner” as all the food was donated from various businesses and individuals.

“We didn’t have to go and buy anything for the meal,” he said. “The mission didn’t have to take money and buy anything. It is truly community based. Everything is donated. That makes us excited as we see the support from everyone.”