March for Meals

ACS participates in the “March for Meals” to highlight Meals on Wheels program

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Local dignitaries from Amherstburg and LaSalle helped Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) highlight the Meals on Wheels program last week.

Amherstburg fire chief Bruce Montone joined volunteers in Amherstburg while LaSalle Mayor Ken Antaya joined police and fire officials and volunteers in LaSalle.

“This day is to bring awareness to the community of our Meals on Wheels program,” said ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo.

DiBartolomeo said the “March for Meals” highlights the fact that people are now able to live independently in their own homes longer. She also noted that Meals on Wheels does not have to be a long-term commitment for people, as it can also be used on a short-term basis for people recovering from surgery or those needing it for other reasons if only for a brief time.

Austin Tyrrell, fundraising co-ordinator and community awareness co-ordinator with ACS, said they want to educate the community on the service and the fact it is not only for older adults.

Amherstburg fire chief Bruce Montone holds three totes used for Meals on Wheels. At left is Amherstburg Community Services executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo.

Montone said the Amherstburg Fire Department gets involved as they use it as a way to get into homes and ensure people are safe. While visiting with Meals on Wheels clients, Montone also checked smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they were in proper working order.

“It’s sort of a natural fit between ACS and our organization,” said Montone. “It’s become a natural partnership.”

ACS helps provide people “the basics of life,” Montone continued, and the Amherstburg Fire Department helps by making sure the residents are safe. In addition to checking smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, they also take other fire safety measures by making sure there aren’t any combustibles near appliances and that clutter isn’t an issue.

Both DiBartolomeo and Montone state that the carbon monoxide detector program, initiated last year with the assistance of the Amherstburg Rotary Club, is still ongoing and that people can call the Amherstburg Fire Department at 519-736-6500 or ACS at 519-736-5471 if they know of people in need.

Debbie Vigneux serves up one of the meals served in the Meals on Wheels kitchen at ACS.

“This is a way to make sure family and friends are also protected,” said Montone. “We need to think of the most vulnerable all year long.”

The “March for Meals” also allows ACS to showcase their other services as well, with DiBartolomeo stating people can always contact their office to see what other services are available.

“They can always call and get more information,” said DiBartolomeo.

People can also drop by at 179 Victoria St. S. or visit www.amherstburg-cs.com.

Local dignitaries helped participate in the “March for Meals” March 21. From left: Amherstburg Community Services executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo, Meals on Wheels volunteer Patricia Baker, Amherstburg fire chief Bruce Montone and Marlene Turkington.

Marlene Turkington, one of the Meals on Wheels clients visited last Wednesday morning, said she is impressed by not only Meals on Wheels, but the variety of programs ACS offers.

“I really think a lot of it,” she said. “There’s so many different things you can do.”

Turkington said she uses ACS for a number of different services. She also spoke highly of the volunteers that bring her food to her home for Meals on Wheels.

“The volunteers are very, very good,” she said. “It’s nice to have people checking up on you when they bring your food. You get some visitation as well.”

“March for Meals” initiative promotes Meals on Wheels

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The “March for Meals” campaign to promote Meals on Wheels received assistance again this year thanks to local politicians and officials.

Meals on Wheels is operated locally through Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) with Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, police chief Tim Berthiaume and deputy fire chief Lee Tome delivering meals to Amherstburg residents.

LaSalle Mayor Ken Antaya and the respective police and fire chiefs of his community – John Leontowicz and Dave Sutton – delivered meals in their town as well as part of the “March for Meals” initiative.

ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo, police chief Tim Berthiaume, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and deputy fire chief Lee Tome helped promote Meals on Wheels last Wednesday morning.

ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo, police chief Tim Berthiaume, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and deputy fire chief Lee Tome helped promote Meals on Wheels last Wednesday morning.

“We are very pleased to have local leaders from Amherstburg and LaSalle help to spread the word about seniors and their needs,” said DiBartolomeo.

DiBartolomeo said Meals on Wheels assists in many ways, including allowing seniors to stay in their homes longer.

Having local dignitaries endorse the program by delivering meals helps assure people who may have questions about Meals on Wheels, she added.

“We hear lots of misconceptions about who Meals on Wheels are for and what its benefits are,” DiBartolomeo said.  “Having such respected individuals come out to support us will hopefully bring more attention to the program and spur people to take a closer look at how Meals on Wheels can change their lives and the lives of their loved ones.”

Tome said it is a good partnership the Amherstburg Fire Department has with ACS, noting the Meals on Wheels event is also a chance for fire officials to get into homes and help ensure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly.

“(The initiative) allows the fire department to get into homes we don’t normally get into,” he said.

Tome said they know that many seniors may have difficulty maintaining their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, so by him being allowed into the home to deliver the meals, it allows him to help the homeowner and check the alarms for them.

Donato DiBartolomeo (centre) received a meal last Wednesday from police chief Tim Berthiaume, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, Meals on Wheels volunteer Graeme Hutchinson and Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo.

Donato DiBartolomeo (centre) received a meal last Wednesday from police chief Tim Berthiaume, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, Meals on Wheels volunteer Graeme Hutchinson and Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo.

The Amherstburg Fire Department is proud to be part of the program and to assist the residents that ACS serves, Tome added.

Berthiaume said he was happy to help bring awareness “to this valuable community program.

“I think we all know of someone who has received benefits of the Meals on Wheels program,” Berthiaume continued. “It really is an invaluable service.”

Berthiaume’s mother used to receive Meals on Wheels and had strong praise for the program.

“They are just wonderful. The people are all volunteers,” said Berthiaume. “This community is made up of terrific people.”

The mayor said it was an opportunity to meet people in the community he might not normally meet, as some have mobility issues that don’t allow them to get out as much.

“This is one time a year I get the opportunity to do what people do day in and day out,” said DiCarlo. “It is a privilege and an honour they invited me.”

DiCarlo called Meals on Wheels “an essential service” and hopes all communities have such a service or something similar. People who need something to volunteer for, including retirees, can get involved with the program.

“There’s always something to volunteer for,” said DiCarlo. “This is a great cause.”

“I dare say, that the Meals on Wheels program is the most thoughtful, caring, humane service we provide to the community,” Antaya said.

Antaya used to deliver meals, and still does when his schedule allows it.

“It is providing a service to those who need it. It empowers those who are delivering the service,” he added. “If you can brighten somebody`s day with a hot meal, plus a short visit of a few minutes, it restores our faith in human nature, if only for a moment. I love doing it.”

Ursula Eldracher, a long-time community volunteer, now is serviced by volunteers as she started receiving Meals on Wheels two months ago.

“It’s the best thing that has happened to me because I hadn’t been eating well,” she said. “All the meals are good. This gave me a chance to get more nutritious meals into my body.”

Eldracher received her meal Wednesday not only from volunteer Graeme Hutchinson, but DiBartolomeo, DiCarlo and Berthiaume as well with Tome being on another route. The amount of dignitaries, and media, that attended her home was something that made her “feel like a real VIP,” she remarked.

Donato DiBartolomeo received a meal at his home as well. He said he enjoys the food and that it allows him to eat healthier as well.