Austin Tyrrell

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.

Coats for Kids program strong in Amherstburg



By Ron Giofu


The annual Coats for Kids program has received a solid response in Amherstburg.

The program is administered locally by Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) under the umbrella of the Unemployed Help Centre of Windsor. ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo and community awareness/fundraising co-ordinator Austin Tyrrell agreed that the support from the Amherstburg community was tremendous.

“We had some very generous donors this year,” said DiBartolomeo. “The community was very generous.”

Tyrrell pointed out that there were 100 articles of clothing distributed to just over 50 children in the first three days alone.

“It’s pretty steady,” Tyrrell said. “There’s a lot of people who have never used the service before.”

Amherstburg Community Services executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo (left) and volunteer Christina Bezaire stand with some of the coats that were available at the ACS office.

Tyrrell estimated that it was the first year of participation for at least half of those who stopped by the ACS office.

“We collected a lot,” he said. “We had a lot of support. It says a lot about the spirit of our community that we get the support we do.”

Amherstburg Public School collected a lot of coats for the Coats for Kids project while the Nifty Needleworkers, a group of women who knit and crochet every week at the Gibson Gallery, also made their annual donation.

DiBartolomeo said that is an example that “community supports community.”

Distribution continues Friday (Nov. 10) from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and DiBartolomeo said they will still likely distribute coats to those in need early next week.

Amherstburg Community Services is located at 179 Victoria St. S. For more information on the list of programs and services they offer, call 519-736-5471 or visit They are also found on Facebook at or on Twitter at

Fifth Wine n’ Hop event raises more than $4,000 for Amherstburg Community Services



By Jolene Perron


With more than 100 people in attendance, Amherstburg Community Service’s bi-annual Wine n’Hop was able to bring in a significant amount of money to help the organization with their 20-plus programs.

The bar-crawl style event is organized by ACS themselves, taking visitors to a handful of Amherstburg’s downtown restaurants to enjoy a unique culinary experience which helps to make Amherstburg such an attractive destination.

“The bi-annual event made its debut in 2015, and is now in its fifth iteration.,” explained ACS community awareness/fundraising coordinator Austin Tyrrell. “Since that first 2015 event, it remains the only bar-crawl style evening event in Amherstburg, and continues to provide a unique experience that complements a festival-rich town. We have provided free local transportation services at every event, in order to make sure that patrons have a safe ride home available.”

The fifth Wine n’Hop event brought attendees to five local restaurants, one of which was the Artisan Grill September 27 to taste some local wines and brews, and try a few of the restaurant’s appetizers.

Tyrrell said the event’s biggest strength is the quality of the participating restaurants. Since it began in 2015, they have seen six local restaurants plus the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 157 participate. This year’s event featured the Artisan Grill, Rosa’s, Beacon Ale House, and the Dalhousie Bistro, as well as the Legion which began and ended the event. Ticket holders were able to try one food item and one local wine or beer at each of the stops.
This year’s event sold out within two weeks.

Vanessa Mifusd has lived in Amherstburg for two years. She and her husband went to the first event shortly after they moved to town to get to know people.

“This year we’re meeting up with the first group that we met,” said Mifusd. “It was a chance to meet people and get to know what restaurants are available, how the food is and of course the local wines. When I retired from London, I was from the Ministry of Community and Social Services so I knew of different organizations in the area. I know it’s helping people and that’s always been first on my list.”

Tyrrell said the funds raised from the event allow ACS to continue to support a variety of programs they provide to families and individuals in Amherstburg, LaSalle, Harrow and even McGregor. Without them as the county connection, the next closest place to get many the services they provide would be Windsor.

“Support for the event seems to be strong, and it is our intention to continue to grow the event and provide even more memorable experiences moving forward,” said Tyrrell. “The Wednesday event raised nearly $4,000 for the small, local charity, thanks in part to their four sponsors: John D’Alimonte and Kim Wheeler RE/MAX Preferred Realtors, Dollars and Cents Investments Inc., Bornais Financial Services, and Tech-IT-Easy.”

Amherstburg police toy drive helps make Christmas brighter for families


By Ron Giofu


The Amherstburg police toy drive has once again assisted families this year with the help of some community partners.

The toy drive, overseen by Const. Nathan Harris and his wife Ashleigh, was run in partnership with Amherstburg Community Services (ACS). In turn, ACS also partnered with the Secret Santa benefit dinner run by Norm and Janet Mickle and the staff at Mealtime Express.

“For the past three years, we’ve worked with the Amherstburg Police Service on their toy drive,” explained ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo.

This year’s toy drive will help with brightening the holiday season for numerous local families, she added.

Amherstburg police completed its toy drive last week in partnership with Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) and Mealtime Express. From left: Austin Tyrrell and Kathy DiBartolomeo from ACS, Ashley & Const. Nathan Harris.

Amherstburg police completed its toy drive last week in partnership with Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) and Mealtime Express. From left: Austin Tyrrell and Kathy DiBartolomeo from ACS, Ashley & Const. Nathan Harris.

“In the end, we were able to help 49 children in 27 families,” said DiBartolomeo.

ACS had already partnered with Mealtime Express for the Secret Santa program so it made sense to combine everything, added ACS community awareness co-ordinator Austin Tyrrell.

“The police service were able to assist us in delivering the toys,” said DiBartolomeo.

The children were able to get more gifts this year than in previous year, said Nathan. Ashleigh added they received a lot of donations including new bicycles. One person even purchased 52 gifts by himself, she added.

“It’s been really nice,” said Nathan. “The Christmas spirit is alive and kicking in Amherstburg.”

ACS “showcasing the value of local seniors” throughout June



By RTT Staff


June is Seniors Month and that is being very much observed by Amherstburg Community Services (ACS).

ACS is taking the opportunity to showcase the value of local seniors in their communities and to thank them for their ongoing contributions during the month of June. The not-for-profit agency plans on hosting numerous events and initiatives during June that focus on seniors.

The first event is a bus tour through Essex County’s greenhouses has been scheduled for this Monday, ACS will also be posting weekly bios on local seniors who are making a difference in their community during the month.

The agency states that anyone who signs up for the Friendly Social Senior’s congregate dining group this month will receive one free lunch and that seniors who sign up for the Meals on Wheels program this month will receive one free lunch. Seniors who register for the CareLink transportation services this month will receive one free local round trip.

The organization’s executive director, Kathy DiBartolomeo, believes local seniors deserve their time in the spotlight.

“We see so many seniors working every day to improve their communities and it is a true inspiration,” said DiBartolomeo. “That just goes to show that age really is just a number, and nothing can stop us from being the difference this world needs.”

June 2016 is the 32nd anniversary of Seniors’ Month in Ontario, with this year’s theme being “Seniors Making a Difference.”  Anyone who knows a senior who they think deserves recognition is encouraged to nominate them to be featured on Amherstburg Community Services blog and social media, by calling their office or sending them a message through social media.


Austin Tyrrell, ACS’ community awareness and fundraising co-ordinator, said the agency serves approximately 350 seniors on average per month. He noted there are other programs that seniors can take advantage of as well. He pointed out that ACS offers the “Friendly Visiting” program, where a volunteer will visit a senior regularly over a cup of tea, or go shopping together, or simply go for walks – whatever the senior is comfortable doing with the objective of reducing the effects of isolation and loneliness.

“The other program that would be good to highlight would be the security reassurance program, where we provide regular phone calls and check-ups to seniors living alone in order to give them the peace of mind that should anything bad happen, or the person needs anything, someone will be there to check up on them,” said Tyrrell. “We also provide free computer classes and a public book exchange.  Finally, we also do our annual stuff-a-stocking for seniors program every Christmas, in which we collect donated goods to stuff into stockings which we then provide to all of our senior clients in order to ensure that no person, regardless of their age, goes without a Christmas gift.”

Information regarding the Friendly Social Seniors congregate dining group, other local services for seniors, or local volunteer opportunities can be found online at or by calling their office at 519-736-5471. ACS is located at 179 Victoria St. S.