Austin Tyrrell

ACS needs new vehicle, hopes for public’s support



By Ron Giofu


Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) needs a new vehicle and is looking for the public’s assistance in acquiring it.

ACS had to take one of its buses off the road in late 2017 due to the costs of maintaining the vehicle, which was an accessible vehicle capable of accommodating 16 people. That vehicle was roughly ten-years-old and removing it from the road left ACS short a vehicle, said executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo.

The non-profit organization states it has provided almost 25,000 rides to Amherstburg and LaSalle seniors in the past three years. ACS is aiming to raise $75,000 to purchase a new accessible eight-person vehicle.

Local rides have been reduced by a day and DiBartolomeo said they want to restore that as soon as possible and not risk any further cutbacks. Reducing the amount of days seniors and others with accessibility issues have to use their vehicles “snowballs,” said DiBartolomeo.

“That means seniors that use the service have to cancel appointments at specialists they may have had to wait months for,” she said.

There is also a “Day Away” program that also could be impacted, as family members and caregivers have to rearrange plans if the vehicle service is not available.

“Of our three remaining vehicles, two of them are over ten years old, and frankly, if and when any of those need to be repaired, we might find ourselves in a spot where we need to turn people away,” DiBartolomeo said. “If ever there’s a time we need help from our community, now is that time.”

ACS keeps its vehicles in the best condition possible, added community awareness and fundraising co-ordinator Austin Tyrrell.

“Maintenance costs don’t go down with age,” he said. “These vehicles are well maintained but the costs to maintain them are significant. The new vehicle will help us reduce those costs.”

DiBartolomeo pointed out that it isn’t as easy as just making an application to the government for money. While ACS will request help from the Erie-St. Clair LHIN, the local agency is in competition with other agencies for funding and it could be a process that may take years before any funding is granted.

ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo stands beside of the agency’s buses, being driven by Dawn Laliberte. ACS had to take one of its vehicles off the road recently and is fundraising for a new one.

There may also be restrictions placed on how use of a government-funded vehicle could be utilized.

“By having your own vehicle, you can give more people access to a ride,” she said.

ACS wants to be a solution to the issue of accessible transportation, DiBartolomeo added.

DiBartolomeo says that Amherstburg Community Services have already sent out letters to local businesses requesting donations. They also started selling tickets for their annual 50/50 lottery draw with the cost being three tickets for $5 until their SOUPer Wednesday fundraiser Feb. 21. Tickets for that fundraiser are also on sale now.

DiBartolomeo has asked that anyone interested in donating to ACS can do so by cash or cheque at their office at 179 Victoria St. S. in Amherstburg, or by credit card through their website,


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.”