Columbus Community Hall

“Addy’s Angels” hold fundraiser for four-year-old with mitochondrial disease

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Four-year-old Addy Weith and her mom Lisa came to Amherstburg Sunday on the weekend where Addy was the guest of honour.

A group of volunteers known as “Addy’s Angel’s,” which include Addy’s grandmother Mickey Dinunzio and great-aunt Heather Amlin, presented a fundraiser for “Addy’s Journey.” The Sunday fundraiser at the Columbus Community Hall raised money to pay for a bus to go Hudsonville, Michigan Aug. 5 for a large fundraiser there. Hudsonville is where the Weith family, including Addy’s twin sister Norah and dad Eric, live.

“It’s overwhelming,” said Lisa. “I saw the parking lot and thought ‘oh my goodness.’ It’s pretty special.”

Lisa is originally from Amherstburg and is a graduate of General Amherst High School. She said it was great to be back in her hometown, reconnect with people she hasn’t seen in a while, and know it is all to help her daughter.

Addy’s Angels, a local group raising money to help four-year-old Addy Weith, held a fundraiser last Sunday. (Photo by Danica Skakavac)

There was a hospital stay for Addy a few weeks ago that Lisa described as “rough,” as Addy was in intensive care for a few days. She recovered from that and the family hopes she stays in good health for a while longer.

Mitochondrial disease, also known as Leigh Syndrome, is a severe neurological disorder characterized by progressive loss of mental and movement abilities. The disease typically results in death in two to three years after diagnosis due to respiratory failure. As Addy and her family deal with that, they are comforted by the fact there are fundraisers such as the one Sunday and the one in Hudsonville Aug. 5. Another recent event for Addy and her family was a special day on a trolley with her favourite TV character Daniel Tiger.

Dinunzio said details will be forthcoming in the foreseeable future about how people can get on the bus and visit with the family in Michigan in August. She said they were ready for over 100 people last Sunday.

“It’s a small town with a huge heart,” she said of Amherstburg.

“Everything was donated, even the hall,” said Amlin.

Amlin pointed out the Weith family has a great support system on both sides of the border.

“It’s just incredible the amount of people who are involved,” added Lisa. “Saying thank you doesn’t seem big enough for everything we’ve been getting.”

For more information on the Aug. 5 event in Hudsonville, Michigan, e-mail heather_amlin@yahoo.ca or brouwer.1@hotmail.com. People can also call Amlin at 519-713-9293.

Rotary Club of Amherstburg’s annual Easter Seals dinner April 18

Special to the RTT

 

The Rotary Club of Amherstburg will hold its annual Easter Seals Dinner at the Columbus Community Hall April 18 from 5-7 p.m.

The dinner funds opportunities for children and adults with physical disabilities. The Rotary Club has named the pasta dinner in honour of the late Martin Breshamer, who created it locally. The Columbus Community Hall is located at 190 Richmond St. in Amherstburg.

Martin was a quiet pillar of the community through his many activities, all the while being the busy former plant manager for the local Seagram (now Diageo) plant.

The Martin Breshamer Memorial Easter Seals pasta dinner is next Wednesday night. Breshamer (pictured) organized the dinner annually as well as a walkathon. (Submitted photo)

For those with disabilities, he was a board member of Easter Seals, organized the Easter Seals walkathon and pasta dinner, ensured playgrounds were handicap-accessible, and was a board member and former chairman of the Rotary Children’s Rehabilitation Centre (now John McGivney Centre).

For Amherstburg, he arranged the Seagram Concert Series for the Windsor Symphony Christmas Concert, installed the Rotary Clock at the foot of Richmond St., was a board member of the Amherstburg Historic Sites Association and the Park House Museum, a fund raiser for the St. John the Baptist Church Restoration Fund, manager of the annual haunted house, and of course, president and board member of the local Rotary Club.

For the area, he was a United Way chairman where he exceeded the goal by 20 per cent and assisted small business through the Essex Community Future Development Corporation.

Having been born in The Netherlands where he survived WWII as a boy, Martin used to say, “Canada has been good to me and in my retirement, I can give my time to help others.”

In view of his many accomplishments, it is understandable why Canada awarded him the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 and Rotary presented him the Paul Harris Award.

Pasta dinner held for Hope of St. Joseph Shelter in the Congo

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A pasta dinner fundraiser was held in Amherstburg for a shelter in the Congo with the priest who runs it formerly being based at St. John the Baptist Church.

The shelter was started in 2006 by Father Donato Lwiyando, who the Amherstburg community recently bid farewell to as he is now back in the Congo. Despite Father Donato leaving Canada for his homeland, the social justice committee at St. John the Baptist Church is still moving forward in raising money and awareness of the African women’s shelter.

Mary Beneteau, a member of the social justice committee, said she regularly corresponds with Father Donato and he arrived back home safely.

Father Donato Lwiyando is back in the Congo but the social justice committee at St. John the Baptist Church is still raising money for his Hope of St. Joseph Shelter. They recently held a pasta dinner at the Columbus
Community Hall. (Special to the RTT)

“It’s a little more dangerous there than it was when he visited in the summer,” said Beneteau. “He has to be in before dark. It’s not safe to be outside after dark.”

However, Beneteau said “the girls are fine” and were thrilled to see Father Donato when he returned to Africa.

“He’s getting to know the kids. There are many new ones,” said Beneteau. “He’s happy to be there. He’s been spending time with the girls and his family.”

March is “Month of the Woman” in the Congo so Father Donato has gone shopping with them and purchased fabric for new clothing. He still stays in touch with people locally, including Beneteau, via Skype, Facetime and text message.

“I hear from him every two or three days, at least,” said Beneteau.

While he has built the shelter, Beneteau said Father Donato still dreams of building a school in the Congo. In the meantime, he will work at the shelter fixing beds and doors and trying to provide the girls with blankets and a television.

The St. John the Baptist Church social justice committee held a pasta dinner recently to help Father Donato’s shelter in the Congo. Starting front row left: Rose Shaw, Rose Beneteau, Harry Beneteau. Back row (from left): Larry Allen, Mary Beneteau, Marc Beneteau, Susan Monaghan, Christina D’Aloisio, Ralph Orsi.

Beneteau added electricity is “irregular” in the Congo as it is only available to citizens a few hours per day. A calendar sold through St. John the Baptist Church has provided for solar panels, which helps give the shelter even more access to electricity.

Father Donato sends his love and best wishes to the Amherstburg community, Beneteau added, as he enjoyed his time in the community.

Anyone wanting to purchase a 2018 calendar can call Beneteau at 519-736-6263. The cost is $10.

To donate to the shelter or to sponsor a girl, people can make an e-transfer from their financial institution to stjoseph@hopeislife.ca or mail or drop off a cheque payable to Hope of St. Joseph Shelter, 273 Fryer St., Amherstburg, ON, N9V 3G7.

For more information, visit www.hopeislife.ca.

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.

Community bids farewell to Father Donato

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A beloved local priest is heading home to Africa but is leaving with positive memories of his time in the area.

Father Donato Lwiyando has left for his homeland of the Congo with his last day in Canada being Tuesday. Father Donato spent six years in Canada with stops at churches in Windsor and London before coming to St. John the Baptist Church in Amherstburg as associate pastor. His most recent church was Good Shepherd Church in Lakeshore. He also spent time assisting those of African origin in the area.

Upon his return to the Congo, Father Donato will look after the Hope of St. Joseph Shelter he founded.

“I have the shelter and I need to take care of it,” said Father Donato. “We have 40 girls living there in the shelter. I think it’s a good time for me to go and take care of those girls.”

ather Donato Lwiyando visits with parishioners from St. Jerome Church from Windsor during a farewell party March 4 at the Columbus Community Hall. He leaves March 6 to move back to the Congo.

Women and children both live in the shelter, with the shelter being a safe haven for the women who have suffered rape and abuse.

Father Donato said he has enjoyed his time in Canada and made many friends during his time in Amherstburg but it was time to go back to Africa. He said he started thinking about returning in February 2017 and made his decision in January 2018.

“I love the community of Amherstburg. I love it very much,” he said. “I had to choose between friends who are OK and friends who are suffering. I chose those who are suffering.”

Father Donato will also be a parish priest and also hopes to return to teaching in the seminary in the Congo. He will also try and help provide medical treatments to those in his homeland.

“When I went home to the Congo, I found people dying of sicknesses that could have been healed,” he said.

Father Donato’s time in Canada also saw him assist with the Spanish-speaking population near Sarnia. He would visit at least twice per month. He was also involved with other groups that helped spread love and peace in the area.

“I will miss the people. I really love the people of Amherstburg,” he said. “They were very, very kind. I will miss their smiles.”

Father Donato hugs a St. John the Baptist Church parishioner (right) during his farewell party at the Columbus Community Hall.

Adding he will always remember how he was welcomed to the area, Father Donato stated that he will always remember Amherstburg’s generosity.

“The people of Amherstburg are really, really generous,” he said. “I will miss that. I have very, very good memories of this community. I felt very loved, very welcomed. I will never forget them.”

Father Donato also spoke highly of St. John the Baptist Church priest Father Brian Jane.

“He has been very friendly, very supportive and very human,” Father Donato stated. “May God bless him.”

While Father Donato has gone home, fundraising for the Hope of St. Joseph Shelter continues. A pasta and salad dinner will be held at the Columbus Community Hall March 18 starting at 4:30 p.m. The cost is $10 and all proceeds will go to the shelter.