Kathy DiBartolomeo

“Give a Little, Help a Lot” campaign raises almost $500 for ACS



Special to the RTT


After a store-wide fundraising campaign, Meloche’s No Frills presented local charity, Amherstburg Community Services with a cheque for $485.

The money was raised through by customers of the Amherstburg grocery store as part of the “Give a Little, Help a Lot” campaign.  Chris Meloche says him and his wife, Tina, who both own and operate the store, are always excited to help their community.

“We try to help local groups whenever and however possible,” Chris said.  “If everyone gives just a tiny bit, it can go such a long way.  This campaign makes it as easy as possible for busy people to make a big impact.”

Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo accepts a $485 cheque from Tina and Chris Meloche of Meloche’s No Frills. The money was raised through No Frills’ “Give a Little, Help a Lot” campaign. (Special to the RTT)

The campaign encouraged customers to donate small amounts to local charities like Amherstburg Community Services.  Tina Meloche says their store’s customers deserve credit for their donations.

“We have a role as a local business to encourage a giving and generous community, and our staff did a great job of that, but at the end of the day, it’s the customers,” she said.  “It’s simply incredible to have customers who are so generous and willing to help others.  It’s clear we live in a caring community.”

According to the executive director at ACS, Kathy DiBartolomeo, the money will go directly towards helping the most vulnerable people in the region.

“As a small charity, we really do rely on the support of our community to make an impact,” DiBartolomeo said.  “We are so grateful to the staff and owners at our local No Frills, and especially to every customer who donated.”

General donations like this support a variety of programs that help the elderly, low-income families and individuals, and others living in Amherstburg.  Anyone interested in learning more can contact Amherstburg Community Services directly at 519-736-5471 or people can make a donation by visiting their website at www.amherstburg-cs.com.



Car dealers, realtors band together to help ACS



By Ron Giofu


First it was Concours Mold Inc., now it is a group of Amherstburg car dealers and realtors helping to get Amherstburg Community Services’ (ACS) complement up to full strength.

Just weeks after the Goggin family and Concours Mold teamed to bring the fundraising total to $75,000 for a new accessible bus, four local car dealers and a pair of local realtors were at ACS last Tuesday afternoon where a 2009 van was presented to the agency.

Representing the car dealers were Scott Elliott and Mike Bezzoubkin from Amherstburg GM, Matt Semande from Thrasher Sales and Leasing, Michelle Ropac from Joe Meloche Ford and Leo Racicot Jr. from Racicot Chrysler while realtors John D’Alimonte and Kim Wheeler also were part of the team that helped acquire the van.

Elliott said once the issue went public about ACS having their former vehicles break down and removed from the road, everyone decided to help out.

“The four (car dealerships) got together and said we want to help with the situation,” said Elliott. “John and Kim heard about it and wanted to help too.”

The van, valued at approximately $10,000, will assist ACS with different services but the primary focus at the current time will be the St. Clair College shuttle service. The shuttle service had been cancelled for the fall semester due to the vehicle shortage but has now been restored thanks to the donations from the community.

Local car dealers and realtors banded together to purchase a new van for Amherstburg Community Services (ACS). From left: Leo Racicot Jr., Kim Wheeler, John D’Alimonte, Mike Bezzoubkin, Michelle Ropac, Kathy DiBartolomeo, Branka Stewin, Scott Elliott and Matt Semande.

Elliott said the process took about six weeks to come together.

Thrasher Sales & Leasing stated they are pleased to be part of a “terrific group of dealers” that allowed such a donation to happen.

“Thrasher Sales would like to send a big thank you to our customers and community, as it’s their support that allows us to give back and help organizations like the ACS and so many other local causes. These organizations help so many people in our community,” Semande stated.

Kathy DiBartolomeo, executive director at Amherstburg Community Services, was very happy with the donation and said students can now have a reliable way of getting to class. She noted there are students who used the service for three years and now, in their graduating year, can continue.

“We are relieved we can continue to get them to St. Clair,” she said.

DiBartolomeo stated it “will be a well-used vehicle” and that it could be used for other purposes as well.

Branka Stewin, program co-ordinator at ACS, said there are five students currently enrolled for the St. Clair College student shuttle. While that doesn’t mean it’s filled up, there are few spots remaining but those who sign up after spots are filled can be placed on a waiting list.

DiBartolomeo added that ACS is “extremely grateful” that the community has come together to learn about and support the agency. They offer over 20 services out of its office.

For more information on Amherstburg Community Services, visit www.amherstburg-cs.com, visit their office at 179 Victoria St S. or call 519-736-5471.

ACS continuing “Fill a Backpack” program until supplies run out



By Ron Giofu


Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) is continuing with its “Fill a Backpack” program into this week and possibly beyond.

The program, as of last Friday morning, had assisted approximately 70 children from 50 families in need but there were still school supplies that ACS would like to distribute.

“The supplies will be available for the next couple of weeks,” said ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo.

Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo (left) and program co-ordinator Nicole Smith hold some of school supplies still available as part of the Fill-A-Backpack program.

The “Fill a Backpack” program is geared to help children from low income families have the necessary school supplies when they return to class Sept. 4. Supplies will be offered through ACS while they last.

“Everyone has moments where you need a helping hand and that is whom it is geared for,” DiBartolomeo said of the “Fill a Backpack” initiative.

Amherstburg Community Services expressed its gratitude towards all the donors and sponsors who contributed to the initiative as well as the volunteers who helped run it.

The Amherstburg Community Services office is at 179 Victoria St. S. with people able to come in from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. if they need school supplies. For more information about “Fill a Backpack” or any of the other programs and services ACS offers, call 519-736-5471 or visit www.amherstburg-cs.com.

ACS, town co-host town hall meeting for seniors



By Ron Giofu


Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) and the Town of Amherstburg reached out to the senior community in an effort to try and hear what they want and need.

A town hall meeting was held at the Libro Centre with about 40 people in attendance. Attendees were asked what they required in terms of medical care, recreational amenities and accessibility among other topics.

“This started in late 2017,” explained Rick Daly, the town’s manager of recreation services.

Daly said there was a stakeholder information meeting in which the town and ACS tried to find out what is being offered to seniors and what services are still needed. How the gaps in services get eliminated is part of the process, he added.

“We need to find opportunities for all of our residents,” he said.

Kathy DiBartolomeo, executive director with ACS, said the agency is often approached about what they can do for seniors. ACS offers such programming as lunches, transportation and programs where seniors are called and visited along with programs such as Meals on Wheels. They will continue to work with the town on additional programming, she indicated, and that consultations with the community will continue.

Amherstburg Community Services executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo fields a question from a resident as part of the seniors town hall meeting ACS held in conjunction with the Town of Amherstburg Aug. 16.

“These talks will be ongoing,” she said. “It’s not a one-off meeting.”

Ideas ranges from bringing in medical specialists, having exercise classes, educational sessions for singles and couples on such topics as cooking, alternative medicine, year-round pickleball, and having a community garden. Stephanie Thomson commented that she moved to Amherstburg from Toronto and was lucky to find someone to help her get acclimated to the town.

Thomson suggested a service where people could socialize and introduce new residents to the town.

“Social isolation will kill you,” she said.
John Miceli, the town’s chief administrative officer (CAO), said he saw a greeter service manned by volunteers when he visited Chicago. He believes something similar could work in Amherstburg.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity for the town,” said Miceli.

Miceli added that the town is planning on erecting electronic signage at the north and south ends of town and that will help advertise additional town programs. He believes those signs will be erected by late fall.

Questions over the seniors hub at the former St. Bernard School site were raised, with Miceli stating “we’ve got some major partners” that are coming. However, he said he can’t share a lot of details at the moment.

Local naturalist Greg Nemeth speaks about his hobby at the Aug. 16 town hall session for seniors at the Libro Centre.

Miceli added that a partnership with the Greater Essex County District School Board will allow for “a tremendous amount of opportunities for seniors programming” at the new public high school that will be erected on 15 acres of Centennial Park.

Greg Nemeth, a local naturalist, spoke on how he took up that hobby when he retired and was diagnosed with epilepsy. He suggested a boardwalk on lands within the Big Creek watershed would be useful, as he regularly walks and photographs wildlife in the area between Thomas Road and Concession 3 North.

“When you are walking with nature, it’s a different experience,” said Nemeth. “It’s calm. It’s relaxing. Put a boardwalk in for seniors. They’ll really enjoy it.”

ACS and the town hosted seniors expo earlier this year, DiBartolomeo pointed out, adding they hope it gets “bigger and better” every year.

“Every year, we hope to expand it,” she said.

Daly added he would like to see an advisory committee for seniors established, one that would report to town council. He said an advisory committee would have “the ear of council.”

ACS to get new accessible vehicle thanks to local family



By Ron Giofu


Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) will be re-adding an accessible vehicle to its fleet thanks to a local family and an area company.

The Goggin family of Amherstburg donated $32,000 to ACS’ accessible vehicle fundraising campaign. That money, on top of the $18,000 raised by ACS, brought the total to $50,000 and by reaching that amount, it triggered the Concours Mold Challenge.

Concours Mold Inc. pledged to donate $25,000 if the community could raise the first $50,000 towards a new $75,000 accessible vehicle.

Kenny Goggin, deputy chief financial officer (CFO) with Concours Mold Inc., stated that when the company heard that ACS had to take a vehicle off the road due to maintenance issues, they issued the challenge to bring the community together and fundraise for a new accessible vehicle. A second vehicle had to be removed from the road earlier this summer.

“(ACS executive director) Kathy (DiBartolomeo) and the team do a great job,” said Kenny. “Amherstburg really came together.”

Kenny said that his family wanted to make the large donation to trigger the challenge after learning of news reports that pointed out that the St. Clair College student shuttle wouldn’t be offered for the fall semester by ACS due to a shortage of vehicles. The service will be able to be restored thanks to the new vehicle.

Goggin credited his mother Joanne for the family’s donation. In a statement, Joanne Goggin said the family – which also consists of Mark, Dennis and Jmar as well as Kenny and herself – hope to see their donation inspire others in the community to support the services ACS provides.

“When we saw that ACS was having difficulty raising funds for the new van and heard the story about (another vehicle) breaking down, we knew we wanted to commit personally to completing this purchase,” Joanne stated. “This is a fantastic organization which has benefitted the senior community but many other groups in Amherstburg as well; we want these programs to flourish. Hopefully, our gift will inspire others to donate personally to continue the services ACS operates in this beautiful community we call home.”

Kenny said a number of employees at their Lakeshore plant come from Amherstburg, adding he was raised on Texas Road.

Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) will be able to purchase a new accessible vehicle thanks to the Goggin family and Concours Mold Inc. The Goggin family donated $32,000, which brought the fundraising total to $50,000. By reaching $50,000, Concours Mold Inc. donated the remaining $25,000 necessary to purchase the new vehicle. ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo accepts the $25,000 cheque from Concours’ deputy chief finanical officer Kenny Goggin (left) and marketing director Jmar Eduarte (right).

“We have employees whose children use the service,” he added.

Agreeing with his mother, Kenny stated that ACS has a lot of excellent services to help the communities they operate in and they hope to shine a light on them.

“I think more importantly is the work Kathy and her team do that goes unnoticed,” he said. “My family made sure these types of programs are highlighted.”

DiBartolomeo called the donations by both the Goggin family and Concours Mold Inc. “unbelievable” and said ACS is very grateful for them.

“I’m not sure words can describe just how important this is to us and to the rest of the community,” DiBartolomeo said. “So many people rely on our services to stay mobile, and those are the people this fundraising campaign has been for. On behalf of them and everyone else this donation will affect, thank you so much.”

ACS will be able to not only restore programming, but expand it as well, DiBartolomeo indicated. She said ACS will soon start recruiting volunteers to help those they help transport with getting on and off the bus and to help with such things as grocery shopping or helping out at medical appointments.

The new accessible vehicle will be able to transport ten walk-on travellers or two wheelchairs and six walk-on travellers. They are in the process of ordering the vehicle and hope to have it within three to six months.

Further announcements are expected in the coming weeks regarding the restoration of programming, such as the student shuttle.

“A very big thank you to Concours Mold Inc. and the Goggin family,” she emphasized.

People are still welcome to donate towards vehicle maintenance or any other program ACS offers, DiBartolomeo added.

“Although the challenge has been met, and we’re grateful for that, vehicle repairs and maintenance are always an issue for us,” she said. “It’s a priority we don’t let this (vehicle shortage) happen again.”

Amherstburg Community Services has provided accessible transportation services to seniors and other adults who qualify since 1989.  They began fundraising for this vehicle that the order went in for in February this year after one of their vehicles was deemed unsafe and removed from their fleet, with the second accessible vehicle being taken off the road in July.

For more information on ACS or to donate, visit their office at 179 Victoria St. S. or call 519-736-5471. Their website is www.amhertburg-cs.com. To “like” them on Facebook, visit www.facebook.com/AmherstburgCS and to follow them on Twitter, visit www.twitter.com/ACSAmherstburg.